Falls are a common occurrence, especially among those who are elderly or disabled. The resulting harm can range from bruises to a fatal injury. The more serious the harm, the more sense it makes to explore your legal options if you’re injured due to a fall.
Falling and being injured isn’t enough to win a lawsuit against a property manager or owner in a personal injury case. Unless someone intentionally pushed you and you fell, you must rely on a negligence theory to obtain a settlement from an insurance carrier covering the party or pursue legal action in state court.
What Causes Falls?
These claims are often called “slip and fall” cases. They’re usually caused by:
- Unsafe stairs or handrails
- Unlit or poorly lit walkways or stairs
- Wet or slippery floors
- Cracked sidewalks or pavement
- Uneven surfaces
- An object
There may be multiple causes of your fall. It’s your burden to prove what happened.
What Injuries are Caused by Falls?
Slip and fall injuries can depend on your age and overall health before the fall, how far you fell, what part of your body absorbed the fall, and what you fell on. Injuries may include:
- Bruising & contusions
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck, spine, and back Injuries
- Paralysis, which can vary depending on where your spinal injury occurred
When you make a slip and fall claim, you must show the injuries you suffered and establish how they’ve impacted you.
What is Negligence?
This theory is the basis of nearly all personal injury claims. You have the burden of proving that it’s more likely than not that the other party not only made a mistake but was negligent when they did something or failed to do something, so they owe you compensation for your injuries. You need to prove:
- There was a relationship between you and the other party (like customer and store or parking lot owner), and as a result, they owed you a duty of care
- They breached that duty or obligation by failing to do something or doing something incorrectly or insufficiently
- That breach is the legal (or proximate) and factual cause of the accident
- You suffered harm that, under Florida law, entitles you to compensation
Depending on the facts, the defendant in the case could have defenses against your claim. They may allege that your own negligence caused your injury, or the harm you claim isn’t nearly as great as you allege.
What Can I Be Compensated For?
Depending upon the extent of the harm you suffer, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Resulting pain, suffering, and mental anguish due to your injury, its treatment, and how your life has been affected
- Medical expenses
- Physical and occupational rehabilitative care
- Psychological help
- Replacement of lost wages and benefits
- How a temporary or permanent disability impacted your ability to function and enjoy your life
Compensation can cover what has happened in the past and what is reasonably expected to happen in the future. The greater the negative effect on your life, the more money you should collect. Due to recent changes in Florida law, you won’t receive compensation unless you can prove the other party is at least half to blame for the fall.
Does it Matter Why I Was on the Property?
Generally, a property owner, or the party that maintains the property, has a legal obligation to keep the premises reasonably safe for those coming onto the property. If they fail that duty, they may be liable for injuries due to a fall on the property.
Your “status” as a visitor on the property determines how much of a duty the party owes you and whether the party will be liable for your injuries. Your status will fit in one of these categories:
- Business Invitee
- Recreational User
Generally, the property owner or manager owes the highest duty to a business invitee (someone who responds to advertising and comes into a store) and the least to a trespasser (someone who breaks into the store after it closes). However, property owners typically must maintain “reasonably safe and secure premises” for all visitors, including, to some extent, trespassers.
Contact Our Miami Injury Team
If you are injured by a fall on another’s property, contact Jeffrey R. Davis, P.A. to learn about your legal rights and how to receive compensation for your injuries. Obtain your free case review by calling (305) 577-3777 to speak with an attorney. Our attorneys will talk with you in English or Spanish/Se Habla Español.