Although the risk of slipping and falling on ice is minimal in Florida, there are many other dangerous conditions that can result in a slip and fall. A more common example of a slip and fall case in Florida is one where an individual is at a store and slips on a spill, sustaining injury from the fall. Despite slip and falls often being an anchor of slapstick comedy, slip and fall injuries in real life carry significant consequences, including lost wages and astronomical medical bills. At Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A., we understand the consequences of a slip and fall injury and have successfully represented injured Floridians for more than four decades. If you have been injured in a slip and fall, please contact one of our personal injury attorneys.
Who can I bring the claim against?
In Florida, you can file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the owner of the property on which you were injured. Additionally, you can file a claim with the property owner’s insurance company. The decision for which route to pursue will depend upon the specific circumstances of your case which you should discuss with your attorney.
What must I prove in a slip and fall case?
To successfully bring a slip and fall case, you must prove that you slipped and fell on another’s property and that the property owner is at fault for failing to provide safe premises. There are two actions upon which you can bring a lawsuit. The first is under the general legal tort theory of negligence which underlies most personal injury causes of action. To prove negligence, four elements must be met:
- The property owner owed you a duty of care
- The property owner violated that duty of care
- The property owner’s violation of his or her duty of care resulted in your injury
- You suffered real damages as a result of your injury
Failure to prove any of these four elements will result in an unsuccessful claim for slip and fall.
Florida employs what is referred to as a comparative negligence rule. This means that your culpability in the slip and fall may reduce the damages available to you. For example, the property owner may introduce evidence that you were on your phone and not paying attention, which contributed to your accident. If the jury were to determine that being distracted by your phone makes you 20 percent at fault, then your overall damages award would be reduced by 20 percent.
The second cause of action is statutory. Under Florida Revised Statute § 768.0755, a business establishment has premises liability. Premises liability requires the business maintain safe premises. If bringing a lawsuit under § 768.0755, you must prove “that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it.” Constructive knowledge may be established by presenting evidence establishing either of the following:
- The dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have known of the condition
- The condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.
Therefore, to bring a statutory claim for a slip and fall case based on premises liability, you must prove that you slipped and fell on the business’s premises and that the business had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have acted to resolve the dangerous condition.
What remedies are available to me?
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to damages. Damages can include the following categories:
- Lost earning capacity. If you have lost the ability to earn a living as a result of your slip and fall, you may claim that lost earning capacity as damages. For example, if you are a laborer and sustain a permanent injury to your neck and shoulder in a slip and fall that restricts your ability to work as a laborer and reduces your earning capacity, this lost capacity may be claimed as damages.
- Lost wages. If you cannot work while you are injured as a result of the slip and fall, then you may claim these lost wages as damages. For example, if you are not able to work for four days following the injury and have to forego those four days of pay, then this lost pay may be claimed as damages.
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses. Any medical costs that you incur as a direct result of the slip and fall injury may be claimed as damages.
- Pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is difficult to quantify as it is based on a multitude of factors including the severity of the injury, the treatment required, length of recovery, and impact on your life. An experienced personal injury attorney will work with you to quantify these damages.
- Property damages. Any personal property, for example, a watch that was damaged when you fell may be claimed as damages.
- Punitive damages. Punitive damages are only awarded in the most egregious circumstances as a manner of punishing the at-fault party and discouraging similar misconduct on the part of others. They are not meant to compensate you for your injury.
Contact Our Pensacola Slip and Fall Attorney
At Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A., we have helped thousands of individuals like you recover the compensation they’re entitled to. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident in the Pensacola area, please contact our office as soon as possible for a free consultation.