LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Howard L. Citron | Oct 4, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions - Slip and Falls in Florida

Q: I tripped on a section of uneven sidewalk outside a business, fell down, and was injured. Do I have a case?

A: Unfortunately, there is never an absolute answer to this question because each case and corresponding set of facts and circumstances is different. In Florida recently, slip and fall and trip and fall cases have become increasingly difficult to prosecute. Under Florida law, in order to prevail in a slip and fall or trip and fall case, the injured party must prove that the landowner either created a dangerous condition on his/her property, or unreasonably allowed a dangerous condition to exist that he/she could have or should have corrected. It is important to remember that anyone injured in a slip and fall or trip and fall does not automatically have a claim against a landowner merely because they were injured on the premises.

In the example of an uneven sidewalk, it would be rare that a landowner would have intentionally poured an uneven sidewalk. In fact, sidewalks usually become uneven due to normal wear and tear or because of tree root that grow and move the land underneath or some other outside circumstance. In order to prosecute a case, the injured person must prove that the sidewalk was uneven to such a degree that it was negligent for the landowner not to have seen it and done something to correct the dangerous condition.

One must also consider the “open and obvious doctrine" in evaluating trip and fall and slip and fall cases. If a condition on another’s property is so open and obvious for the landowner to recognize it as dangerous, then the condition should also be open and obvious enough for the injured person to recognize it as well and avoid coming into contact with it.

Q: The store that I slipped and fell in claims that the fall was my own fault. Does this mean I cannot move forward with a case against them?

A: No, however, with the recent changes to Florida law, slip and fall and trip and fall cases are more difficult to prosecute since a more significant burden is placed on the patron claimant. Additionally, matters involving a slip or trip and fall almost always center on a dispute over who is at fault. Furthermore, the more dangerous the condition that caused the fall, the more obvious it should be to the store, but, more obvious to the patron as well.

Q: I was injured on someone else’s property. Do I have a case?

A: The answer to this question depends heavily on the facts of the case. In general, however, the following elements need to be met in order to successfully prosecute any personal injury case: negligence on the part of another person or organization; a connection between that negligence the harm suffered; and damages. In many instances, this analysis is easy – whereas on other occasions it is more difficult. One common misconception in premises liability matters inFlorida is that the landowner or property owner is responsible for all injuries that occur on his/her property. Unfortunately for personal injury claimants, that is incorrect. In order for a claimant to recover money damages in a case against a landowner or business owner is to prove that the owner created a dangerous condition or permitted a dangerous condition to exist he/she was aware of the danger or should have been aware of the danger.

Q: I slipped and fell. My body is aching. What should I do?

A: First, report the fall and your corresponding injuries to the property/business owner or store manager. Thereafter, ask if you can fill out an incident report or document the fall in writing (always ask to keep a copy). When possible, take photographs (you can use the camera in your cellular phone) of the condition that caused you to fall. Additionally, if anyone witnessed your fall, write down their names and telephone numbers. Finally, request that the owner or store manager preserve any surveillance video that may show your fall.

Once you have completed the above steps, seek out immediate medical care and treatment if you are hurt or injured.

Q: Does it cost anything to speak with a personal injury attorney at Citron & Bloom?

A: Each initial consultation that we have with prospective clients is free. You will never have to pay any money to our firm (fees and costs), unless we are successful in making a recovery in your favor.

Q: I tripped and fell in a supermarket. Now the market’s insurance company is calling me to take a statement. What should I do?

A: The answer is simple - seek legal counsel and speak with a personal injury attorney before speaking with the insurance adjuster. In our experience handling personal injury cases, the primary goal of the insurance adjuster in taking a statement is to try to convince you to resolve your claim quickly for less money than it is truly worth or to minimize your injuries. It is unfair for an injured party to discuss the permanency of their injuries immediately following a trip and fall. In fact, it can take weeks or even months before a person’s injuries are completely appreciated.

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