A 2018 Center for Disease Control report revealed that falls caused 35,862 deaths in the United States in 2016. That is a staggering statistic considering how many times during the course of a regular day a person trips. There are many instances where the injuries related to slip and falls are not even reported, and those injuries could be serious enough to change someone’s life, for example a knee injury that could have lasting effects. Falling at a public venue or even at someone’s home can bring about premise’s liability claims, based on negligence. If you or someone you love suffered from a fall where there were previous complaints for the same reason, that information will strengthen your claim. The negligence will need to be determined by reviewing all of the factors that led up to the accident.
Defense strategies that could try to shift the burden on to you and reduce your claim might consider that others have used the same stairway and not fallen, or that something you did contributed to the accident such as 1) being distracted, 2) walking off balance due to something you were carrying, or 3) what type of shoes you were wearing at the time.
If the fall occurred because of poor lighting, loose handrails, a foreign substance on stairs or unsafe staircases below building code requirements, it may be easier to prove a negligence claim. A property owner is required to maintain safe conditions for visitors, especially in a school situation where a student has a purpose and pays to be there making it a business situation. Evidence must be gathered to include photos of the dangerous scene, witness testimony if someone saw you fall, accident reports, medical records and any evidence you can acquire about what caused your fall. As the claimant, you have what’s called “the burden of proof.”
Under Florida Statute 768.0755 for a Florida premises liability claim, a person can recover for injuries: 1) if they slip and fall on a transitory (not permanent) substance at a place of business; and 2) the business should have remedied that situation. If the business had actual knowledge of the situation they are accountable, and knowledge can be proven by showing that the dangerous condition existed for an amount of time to cause the damage and that its dangers were a known problem.
Types of Damages Awarded.
In the State of Florida, the courts award both punitive damages and/or compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are those that will compensate a victim for a loss that can be measured or calculated; and punitive damages are those that will be a punishment to the person who caused the damage. Personal injury cases usually do not have punitive damages unless a willful act caused the damage.
Damages are classified as economic or non-economic. Economic damages include: 1) medical expenses, lost income, property replacement values, loss of services, and funeral expenses related to loss of life due to the dangerous condition. Non-economic damages include loss that is not financial in nature such as: 1) anxiety, 2) pain and suffering; 3) loss of capacity to enjoy life; and 4) inconvenience caused by the accident.
Hire a Lawyer.
Jeffrey A. Rosenberg is a qualified, skilled personal injury attorney who can help you gather the information needed to pursue your slip and fall injury case. A slip and fall injury can be very costly, whereby you will need the assistance of a personal injury lawyer, but there are some situations where the case damages would not amount to more than $5,000. In that situation, a small claims case may be the best option.