If you have experienced a slip and fall accident due to the negligence of another, you’re entitled to damages for your injuries. At Long, Jean & Wechsler, P.A., our slip and fall lawyers represent accident victims on a contingency basis. That means that our clients don’t have to pay out of pocket for our professional legal representation.
We also offer free, no-obligation consultations where you can speak to a slip-and-fall attorney about your specific case. The following frequently asked questions are the type we frequently hear from our clients. If you’ve been injured in an accident, and don’t see the answer to your question in our slip-and-fall FAQs, call today to speak to an attorney.
What Types of Damages Can I Claim in a Slip and Fall Accident?
Professional slip-and-fall lawyers divide damages into compensatory and non-compensatory. Compensatory damages are further divided into two sub-categories for a total of three damage classifications:
- Economic Damages – These are the financial costs associated with an accident, such as medical bills, lost wages, damage to personal property, etc.
- Non-Economic Damages – Full compensation should include damages for physical pain, emotional trauma, loss of quality of life, and sheer inconvenience. Personal injury attorneys also refer to non-economic damages as “pain and suffering.”
- Punitive Damages – These are non-compensatory damage that is intended to penalize the defendant for wanton or wilful behavior. Punitive damages are not always a part of a settlement or jury award. They’re reserved for cases where the defendant acted with malice or a high disregard for the safety of others.
What are the Damage Limits in the State of Florida?
For compensatory damages, there are no limits. Your attorney is free to pursue full compensation for economic losses and pain and suffering. For punitive damages, the limits are either $500,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages — whichever amount is greater. For example, if your compensatory damages were $400,000, the court could award up to $1.2 million, while if they were $100,000, the court would be able to award up to $500,000.
How Long Do You Have to Go to the Doctor After a Slip and Fall in Florida?
It’s never too late to go to a doctor after an accident, but we encourage our clients to seek medical attention as soon after a slip and fall accident as possible. Even if you don’t feel that you are seriously injured, you may have an undetected medical condition.
What Should I Do Immediately Following a Slip and Fall Accident?
While every slip and fall accident case is different, there are some consistent aspects of these types of incidents. The following suggestions may help you avoid further injury and strengthen your case.
- Call 911 – If you need immediate medical attention, it’s important to get first responders to your location as soon as possible. In addition to the address of your location, the dispatcher may need a description of where you are located within the property.
- Notify the Management – It’s important that you notify the proprietor or manager about the accident. This will enable them to take precautions to prevent other people from being injured and will allow them to alert their insurance company. When you speak to them, ask them to preserve all CCTV recordings from the time you entered the store.
- Take Pictures – The scene of a slip-and-fall accident can change rapidly. It’s important that you document the way the scene looks at the time of the incident.
- Talk to Witnesses – Anyone who witnesses the slip and fall can be invaluable to your personal injury claim. Ask for the name and contact information of people on the scene, as well as the names and contact information of any employee that you spoke to.
- Seek Medical Attention – Allow EMTs to examine you on scene. If they recommend transporting you, allow them to. Otherwise, follow up with your doctor at your earliest convenience.
- Don’t Accept a Settlement Before Speaking to an Attorney – It’s a common practice for insurance adjusters to proactively contact victims and offer them a fast settlement. The problem with this is that if your injuries turn out to be worse than initially anticipated, you will not be able to seek further damages. Wait to speak to a personal injury lawyer prior to taking a settlement.
How Do I Prepare for a Slip and Fall Case?
The first step is to schedule an appointment with a personal injury attorney. They will be able to help prepare you for what’s to come. For your initial consultation, it will be helpful if you bring any documentation you have available for the case, including accident reports, medical records and receipts, contact information for witnesses, photographs, etc. If you have already spoken with the insurance company, bring the contact information of the adjuster and any settlement offer they’ve made.
What Injuries Are Hard to Prove?
Certain injuries are more difficult to prove than others. Examples of these injuries include whiplash, deep-tissue bruising, sprains, tears, and other types of soft-tissue injuries. That’s why it’s important to get to a doctor as quickly as possible. With a soft-tissue injury, the bruising and swelling is the most prevalent after a day or so, but then it begins to heal. Once healed, injuries can be difficult to identify, even if you continue to feel pain.
How Bad Does an Injury Have to be to Claim It?
There is no minimum injury threshold that you have to cross in order to make a claim. However, in order to claim compensation, you have to be able to prove damages. If your injury is less severe, you can expect a lower settlement.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Determine Whether I Have a Valid Slip-and-Fall Case?
In order for your claim to be valid, your attorney will have to prove the following four elements:
1. Duty of Care – The defendant must have had a duty of care for the plaintiff’s wellbeing. In a slip-and-fall case, a property owner has the responsibility to ensure that their premises are well-lit and clear of obstructions or slippery substances so that visitors and employees can move about safely.
2. Breach of Duty – The plaintiff’s attorney must then be able to show that the defendant somehow breached their duty of care to the defendant. For example, a restaurant manager has an employee mop the bathroom floors but does not provide them with a warning sign to let patrons know that the floors are wet.
3. Causation – Did the breach of duty cause the accident? In the above example, if a patron slipped on the bathroom floor, it would be easy to show that the proprietor’s failure to warn visitors that the bathrooms were being cleaned led to the accident.
4. Damages – The final element that a personal injury attorney must prove is that the accident led to damages for the plaintiff. If you’ve been injured in an accident, you have damages, even if you haven’t incurred out-of-pocket costs yet.
During your initial consultation with Long, Jean & Wechsler, we will determine if all four elements are met. If they are, we can offer you immediate representation.
How Long Do Most Personal Injury Claims Take?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. As a rule, the more severe the injuries are, the longer the case will take to settle. That’s why it’s essential that you contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
What’s the Statute of Limitations for a Slip-and-Fall Injury Case in Florida?
For most cases, the statute of limitations is four years from the date of the accident. After that time, you will not be able to pursue damages in court and the insurance company is not obligated to pay your claim. For wrongful death claims, the statute of limitations is still four years, but it starts from the date of death.
What if I’m Partially at Fault for an Accident?
Florida follows the comparative negligence principle. That means that if you are partially responsible for your accident injuries, you can collect damages proportionate to the other party’s fault. For instance, if a store owner fails to clean up an oily substance on the ground, but you were also running down the aisle of the store at the time of the accident, the court may determine that you were 40% responsible for the accident. If your damages come to $100,000, you could collect $60,000 (60% of $100,000).
When to Contact a Slip-and-Fall Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, you should contact Long, Jean & Wechsler, P.A. as soon as possible. Evidence can be lost within days of an accident. The sooner you involve our accident attorneys, the better the chance of making a full recovery. All consultations are free, so call today.