How to avoid the pitfalls: Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys shed light on slip and fall accidents
Oops. Watch that banana peel. Look out for that mop bucket. Keep an eye on the wet floor. Steer clear of that bump in the rug. What do all of these potential hazards have in common? They are all slip and fall accidents waiting to happen.
As personal injury litigation attorneys in Fort Lauderdale, we have successfully litigated many slip and fall accidents, from slip and fall injuries that occurred at restaurants and big box retail stores to those that happen outside, on uneven terrain. Counseling people on how to deal with the aftermath of a slip and fall accident in Fort Lauderdale has made us experts in the field.
What you need to know directly after suffering a slip and fall accident is, do you need immediate medical help? Who was responsible for your injury? And are you entitled to compensation to help with your medical bills?
The bottom line is that sometimes the property owner is responsible for your accident. Sometimes it’s a store employee or manager. But sometimes you could be the responsible party.
Understand, of course, that items drop off of shelves, parking lots become scattered with debris, a stairway experiences wear and tear and bumps and lumps often appear on what used to be a smooth surface. It happens. This means that we all bear responsibility for watching where we’re going. Fluids are going to spill and chances are, they won’t be sopped up immediately – it’s your obligation to make sure you bypass an area that looks like it might be hazardous. That is to say, you should avoid a situation that a reasonable person would see as potentially dangerous.
On the other hand, store owners and/or managers are always responsible for maintaining a property that is hazard free.
So how is it determined whether you bear the fault or whether it is the property owner? For one, in determining liability, the following must have been true at the time of the slip and fall accident:
The situation – a spill or slippery and hazardous surface or situation – was caused by the owner, manager or employee of the premises, and they knew of the situation but did nothing about it. This is where the word “reasonable” comes into play: One must prove that a reasonable person taking care of the property should have discovered the situation existed and taken steps to remove or repair the disruption. The phrase “should have known” is also tricky and involves the employment of common sense – is it common sense to believe that the owner should not have allowed the situation on his property to continue without remedying it?
A judge and jury will also determine whether the owner has made regular efforts to maintain a safe and clean property. So the following also needs to be addressed:
Was that ripped or torn piece of carpeting, uneven ground area, loose step or slippery floor a situation that went on long enough that a reasonable person should have known about it and alleviated it?
Is there a regular procedure by which the property owner and manager takes the initiative to clean and repair damaged areas of the premises? Does the owner keep a log of how often these routine inspections and maintenance jobs take place?
Was there a reason for that piece of debris or object to be in that store aisle? Could the object have been removed or could the area been made safer by the posting of some sort of warning sign? Or could the object have been moved to a safer location without it being inconvenient for the owner or manager?
Was there sufficient lighting at the point of the accident?
If these questions favor your claim, you may be able to receive compensation. Then again, could you have avoided the area or was the accident caused by your own carelessness? This is also something a judge and jury will consider. There are rules of “comparative negligence” that apply to slip and fall accidents and another set of questions to ask yourself, to see if you own any responsible for the accident. You can bet an insurance adjustor will ask these questions, so it’s best for you to ask them of yourself ahead of time.
For one, why were you in the area that was dangerous? Did you have good reason to be there?
Was there every reason to believe you should have noticed the danger and taken steps to avoid it before the accident occurred?
Was there a warning in place alerting you to the danger?
Was there something that distracted you from paying attention to where you were going? Were you moving in a way that forced your accident – running or jumping in the dangerous area?
If you have been the victim of a slip and fall accident through no action of your own, remember to seek medical attention immediately, and contact expert personal injury litigation attorneys in Fort Lauderdale. Slip and falls can be life-threatening and can cause injury that could take years to heal. Make sure you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.