Orlando Personal Injury Lawyer
About Orlando Slip and Falls
Slip and falls and other premises liability cases are becoming increasingly more complex over recent decades. Because of these complexities, it is imperative for one who is injured on the land or premises of another to consult with a competent and experienced Orlando personal injury lawyer who will review and assess the important facts, research the law and counsel the injured with respect to his or her rights.
Previously thought of as only “slip and fall” cases, premises liability cases now include a wide range of situations including slips, trips, dangerous conditions, dangerous methods of operation and various other scenarios where liability (legal fault) may be imposed on the owner of the premises where the injury occurred. The following is a list of frequently asked questions that are aimed to assist our clients and the general public who visit our website, and have concerns regarding slip and fall and premises liability cases.
1. What is premises liability?
Premises liability is the classification of cases including slips and falls, trips and falls or other situations which occur as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on the premises of another. A claim for damages may be brought against the property owner, the renter, or both. These claims include personal injuries as a result of a body of water, oil, an abrupt change in elevation of flooring, poor lighting or other hidden dangers. Premises liability cases also cover injuries stemming from dangerous methods a land owner or renter operates a business on the premises.
2. What is a dangerous condition?
A property owner is responsible for dangerous or hazardous conditions the he knows about, should have known about, failed to correct and/or about which he failed to warn. The danger or hazard may be known to the owner such as flooring, or a staircase that requires maintenance. A dangerous condition might be hidden, but one which the owner should have known about through the exercise of due care. For example, if the premises owner did not know about the dangerous condition, but should have known about it through routine maintenance and repair, premises liability may be imposed upon that owner. If the owner actually knows of the dangerous condition, his duty to protect others from that danger may require the owner to eliminate a known danger or exclude persons from the area of the known danger. Exclusion can be accomplished by creating a barrier, fence, gate or wall. In addition, an owner’s duty could entail, providing appropriate protective devices, warnings of the dangers, or to take some combination of these measures. A land owner has a duty to ascertain whether the premises are in a reasonably safe condition, which requires the owner to use reasonable care to periodically inspect and discover the existence of any such dangerous conditions that are not actually known to the owner. How thorough and frequent these inspections must be in order to comply with this duty depends on many factors. Some of these factors include the type of premises and business activity being conducted, the type of potential dangers reasonably expected, the kind of persons entering onto the premises, and the degree of danger involved. An owner may then be liable where he should have knowledge of the danger if a reasonable inspection would have revealed the danger, and if it existed prior to the injury for a length of time longer than between reasonably routine inspections.
It should be noted that a land owner is under no obligation to protect you against dangers which are known or that are so obvious and apparent they are reasonable expected. The rationale is that a person will use their common and ordinary senses to discover and protect themselves from open and obvious conditions. However, in any case where the land owner should anticipate the unreasonable risk of harm, someone entering the land in spite of knowledge of the dangerous condition, the owner may still be liable if he failed to maintain his premises in a reasonably safe manner by repairing the dangerous condition. For example, if the owner knows that accidents or injuries have been caused by the open and obvious condition in the past, he should have anticipated the harm to others in the future and he may be liable for subsequent injuries. Additionally, an owner may liable if he knows that other people who encounter the condition have become distracted from noticing it or are unable to notice it.
3. What should I do if I am injured on someone else’s property?
If we are injured (whether on the property of another or not) common sense tells us that we should immediately seek the most appropriate medical care for our injuries. If we are injured severely and require an immediate visit to the emergency room, we should go to the emergency room and get treatment. If we feel better and then suddenly the condition deteriorates or does not improve, we should also seek medical care whether from our primary care physician or an emergency physician. It is important to seek medical attention immediately since the severity of the injuries may be unknown. Radiological studies and other medical tests may be required before the actual injury is discovered.
It is critical to be aware of what condition actually caused the injury. It is imperative that the condition is preserved by video tape or photograph. It is common that the condition will change subsequent to the injury.
Awareness of statutes of limitation and notice provisions is crucial. These statutes and provisions may apply and must be met or your claim could forever barred. This is why it is important for you to consult with a Florida personal injury lawyer immediately to preserve your right to bring the claim and to evaluate your legal options.
In addition to taking pictures, it is important to get the names and contact information (telephone numbers and addresses) of any person who witnessed your injury or who may have knowledge of the dangerous condition. Also, document the names of any person who can describe the conditions of the floor, lighting, etc. at the time of, or immediately after, the injury. Document and keep records of everything!
If you are injured on the premises of a business, often times the store manager or security officer will create an incident report. Make sure you do not leave without a copy of the incident report. Do not fill out or sign the incident report. Take specific notes if you overhear someone mention that “a similar incident has occurred here before.” Get the name of any person who makes that comment, if possible.
4. What should I NOT do?
Do not provide any statements to the premises owner and certainly do not sign any statement or incident report, especially if you did not write it. Do NOT say anything that would imply fault on your own part. Do not say things like “it was probably my fault,” “I am such a klutz,” “I did not see the water on the floor,” or “I am clumsy” – stay away from all language that could imply that you were at fault.
Many times after an incident of injury, a claims adjuster or a third party claims administrator will contact you to find out information about what occurred and your injury. Do NOT give a statement to any person who contacts you. First, consult with an attorney who specializes in premises liability cases and the attorney will advise you as to whether a statement should be provided. Claims adjusters are trained in attempting to get you to admit full or at least partial responsibility for the injury. Any statement made such as “I’m feeling better now” may be used to minimize the extent or severity of your injuries. Additionally, the claims adjuster may attempt to persuade you to settle the claim immediately and sign a release in exchange for a minimal amount of money, or the adjuster may try to settle the claim prior to knowing the full extent your injuries.
5. If I was injured on the premises of another and I believe it was the fault of the land owner, what will I need to prove my case?
Every case is different. Every case has distinct facts and legal issues that set it apart from the next. You or your Orlando personal injury lawyer will need the following to help prove your case (at a minimum):
A. Photographs or a video tape of the scene, ideally depicting the dangerous or hazardous condition.
B. Names and contact information for witnesses to the incident, the dangerous condition, or the scene immediately following the incident. You will need as many witnesses as you can find to help corroborate your account of what happened.
C. A copy of the incident report, if one was created.
D. Proof of your injuries and damages. This includes medical records (and possibly live medical testimony) from your healthcare providers who treated you for injuries related to the incident. Additionally, keep all receipts of any out-of-pocket expenses that prove amounts you paid for co-pays for doctor visits, medications and other expenses paid as a result of the incident.
E. Reports or accounts of prior similar incidents “if they exist” which would help to prove that the premises owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition.
F. Some cases may require testimony of an expert witness to provide scientific opinions regarding the dangerous condition. An expert witness can evaluate the condition and testify as to what caused the fall (such as a slick surface or a violation of a building code) based on the expert’s education, training and experience.
6. Do I need a Florida personal injury lawyer?
Many cases can be handled without an Orlando personal injury lawyer in small claims court. However, it is important that you consult legal counsel in order to be aware of your rights the law. Many lawyers will not charge a fee for the initial consultation. In most personal injury cases, the attorney works on a contingency fee. This means that unless there is a recovery in your case, you do not owe any attorney fees.
7. What kind of damages are recoverable for an injury as a result of a dangerous condition on someone else’s premises?
In Florida, generally, the following damages may be recoverable:
A. Past medical bills and expenses incurred as a result of the incident.
B. Reasonable estimates of medical bills you will incur in the future.
C. Lost income from time missed from work as a result of the injury.
D. The fair value of any damaged property or clothing as a result of the incident.
E. Compensation for general damages including pain, suffering and other intangible damages which are difficult to quantify with a number.
8. Can I bring a claim against my employer if I injure myself from a dangerous condition on the job?
Most work related injuries are covered by the workers’ compensation system. This system gives the employer immunity from being sued for employee injuries. However, there are several exceptions which take the employer out of workers’ compensation immunity. Additionally, there are situations where a third party is responsible for the injury. This is yet another reason why it is important for you to speak with a Florida personal injury lawyer who specializes in premises liability cases to discuss your rights given the facts of the situation.
9. What happens if I injure myself at someone’s house?
If you injure yourself at someone’s house and that person owns the house, they probably have homeowners’ insurance coverage. If that individual rents, there may be renter’s insurance or another type of insurance available to cover your injury. Further, if they are renters, the land owner probably has insurance coverage for claims filed regarding the property.
10. If a lawsuit is pursued against a land owner, what defenses will the land owner have against the claim?
There are several defenses a land owner may assert depending on the facts and circumstances of each case. The land owner might argue that the condition was “open and obvious” and that you were yourself careless, inattentive or negligent and caused the injuries.
If the condition was a temporary or transient one, such as spilled water, the land owner may argue that this spill occurred too soon to give them an opportunity to correct the dangerous condition.
11. Suppose a third party, besides the land owner, was responsible for the accident on the land owner’s premises?
Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, the landowner and/or a third party may be legally responsible. The responsibility for the injury may fall on one or the other, or be shared by both with the amount of responsibility depending on each party’s percentage of fault.
12. What should a property owner do to protect against claims resulting from slip and fall and/or other premises liability injuries?
First, the property owner should make sure to carry some form of property insurance that contains liability coverage. If an incident does occur where someone is injured, immediately notify your insurance carrier. Failure to notify your insurance carrier could cause a refusal to protect your interests. Many insurance companies, pursuant to their policy, require the insured to notify them of any incidents and/or claims within a very short period of time.
Additionally, please be aware that if the injury occurred as a result of a permanent condition on the property, you should correct the dangerous condition immediately. Once an incident occurs, the premises owner is “on notice” of the potentially dangerous condition and will more likely be held liable for injuries if others injure themselves as a result of that same condition.
Premises owners should routinely monitor the business or home premises for potential dangerous conditions (including water, ice, natural and artificial conditions). Be sure to repair defects that could cause someone to fall.
Many insurance companies will provide a free consultation to educate insureds on reducing the risk of potential hazards on the property. If suggestions are made to correct any conditions, the landowner is on notice. Once on notice, a landowner is more likely to be held liable for a subsequent injury as a result of the dangerous condition.
DISCLAIMER : This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.
Call our Orlando premise liability lawyers at (800) 235-7060