When you enter someone else’s property, be it a residence, a place of business, or a government facility, that property should be safe. Still, thousands of people are injured in Florida every year due to unsafe property conditions that result in a slip and fall incident.
If a homeowner, property owner, or operator neglected to keep their premises safe, you may be able to recover compensation for damages including medical expense, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
At Tonya Stewart Law, I am dedicated to helping clients injured in slip and fall accidents in Lake Wales, Lakeland, and the surrounding communities in Florida. When someone owed you a duty of care and failed in that duty, I can help you seek compensation for your damages.
Premises liability is a property owner’s or occupier’s responsibility to maintain their property in a manner that ensures the safety of people entering the property. For example, a customer in a grocery store slips on a wet spot on the floor and suffers injuries requiring medical attention. The wet spot had been there long enough for employees to walk by it, and the business failed to either place cones or warning signs around the hazard or clean it up to make the area safe.
As another example, someone goes to a friend’s house for dinner and when leaving, grabs the stair railing on the front porch. The railing gives way, causing the person to fall down the stairs.
In Florida, there is a four-year statute of limitations for seeking compensation after a slip and fall. This means you have four years from the date you were injured to either settle a claim or file a civil suit in a Florida court.
There are varying degrees of care required of property ownership and the people who visit the premises, but all property owners and businesses are expected to inspect the property regularly and address any unsafe conditions.
Homeowners have a duty to keep social visitors, or “licensees,” safe and warn of potential danger. This applies to invited and uninvited friends and family visiting for non-business purposes. If a homeowner’s visitors are business invitees, which would include repairmen, utility workers, and delivery workers, the duty of care rises to the level of business invitees.
Businesses owe the highest duty of care to their customers by inspecting and maintaining the property to mitigate danger. Under Florida law, businesses must have or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition and should take action to remedy it. Constructive knowledge can be circumstantial if the dangerous condition existed for a length of time that should have been discovered and remedied.
Although government entities largely enjoy immunity from many legal causes of action, Florida law waives sovereign immunity in tort cases, including personal injury claims, when the government entity has been negligent and that negligence led to incidents (such as slip and falls) that led to the injury of an individual.
If you are injured due to your own carelessness on someone else’s property, you can be held partially liable for your injury. For example, if you consume alcohol at a bar, trip over a chair, and fall.
If the unsafe condition is “open and obvious,” the property owner is not required to warn you of it. For example, if there is a puddle in the parking lot and you step into it and fall, you likely could not prove that the owner was negligent because the puddle was obvious, and you could have avoided it had you been paying attention.
Florida law also follows a comparative negligence rule. This means that if you are found to be partially liable for your injuries, your compensation will be reduced accordingly. For example, if you are found to have been 20% responsible for the incident that led to your injuries, your recovery is reduced by that percentage. If you were awarded $50,000 in damages, you would recover $40,000 from the person, business, or property owner who was 80% at fault.
Premises liability cases such as slip and falls are difficult to prove. It is wise to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to help investigate the circumstances, preserve evidence, and negotiate aggressively with insurers and their attorneys.
At Tonya Stewart Law, I have the legal experience necessary to help my clients seek fair financial compensation for their injuries so that they can move on with their lives. I proudly serve clients in the areas of Lake Wales, Lakeland, Winter Haven, Davenport, and Haines City, Florida. Call me at Tonya Stewart Law today to schedule a free consultation.