Florida property owners, especially those that invite visitors on to their premises for business purposes are legally obligated to take steps to ensure that the property is safe. While many property owners are careful to conduct regular inspections, repair problems, and properly train employees on how to prevent accidents, an alarming number do not, which leaves visitors at risk of being injured in a slip and fall accident. If you were injured in such an accident, don’t automatically assume that it was your fault or merely the result of clumsiness or carelessness on your part. Instead, keep in mind that it is the property owner who may have been at fault for the slip and fall accident, meaning that you could be entitled to compensation for your related losses.
Slip and Fall Accidents Can Happen at Any Time
One of the reasons that slip and fall claims are so common is that these kinds of accidents can happen in just about any setting, including:
- Someone else’s home or property;
- Grocery stores;
- Parking lots and parking garages;
- Public parks and city buildings;
- Common areas in apartment complexes;
- Amusement parks;
- Gas stations and convenience stores; and
- Shopping centers and malls.
When the owners or managers of these kinds of properties are found at fault for a slip and fall accident, they can be held liable for the victim’s medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. In retail and commercial settings, this usually means that a property owner’s liability insurance provider will be responsible for compensating the victim. In a residential setting, on the other hand, a homeowner’s insurance policy will most likely cover the victim’s losses.
Proving Liability for a Slip and Fall Accident
Slipping and falling on someone else’s property is not enough, on its own, to justify an award of compensation. Instead, a claimant will need to prove that:
- The slip and fall accident was the result of a dangerous condition on the property;
- The property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition;
- The property owner failed to address the condition; and
- He or she suffered an injury as a result.
The details are very important in slip and fall claims, including how long the dangerous condition existed prior to the accident. Generally, the longer a defect exists, the easier it will be for an accident victim to prove negligence on the property owner’s part and the less difficulties he or she will face in recovering compensation. To help establish fault, a claimant will need to provide strong evidence, including:
- Security or other video footage from the accident;
- Testimony from eyewitnesses who saw the accident;
- Employee testimony;
- Prior incident reports from the same location;
- The victim’s medical records; and
- Photos from the scene of the accident.
Unfortunately, many property owners and insurers are unwilling to cooperate when it comes to turning over this evidence. An experienced attorney, however, will be able to step in and force the companies to comply with the official request.
Going to Trial
Most slip and fall accident cases are resolved at the settlement phase. This means that the parties won’t need to litigate the case in court, where the matter would be placed in the hands of a judge or jury. Instead, the injured party, the property owner, its insurers, and the parties’ attorneys will meet and attempt to reach a settlement via negotiation. In exchange for accepting a settlement award, a claimant agrees to forego the right to file further legal claims against the company in question. While settlement amounts are often less than the amount of damages awarded by juries, attempting negotiation can save the parties a lot of stress and time by allowing them to avoid the courtroom. There is also, of course, always the chance that a court will rule against a plaintiff, leaving him or her without any options for recovery.
Available 24 Hours a Day to Answer Your Questions
Insurers and at-fault property owners are often unwilling to pay out the full value of slip and fall claims. Negotiating these settlements on the part of an injured slip and fall victim is only one of the many ways that an experienced Miami slip and fall lawyer can help maximize a claimant’s chances of recovery. To speak with an experienced attorney about your own legal options following a slip and fall accident in Florida, call Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein at 305-371-2692 today. You can also reach out to us via online message 24 hours a day.