Signs You May Have a Slip and Fall Case

signs you have a slip and fall case

Falls send millions of people to hospital emergency departments each year. Older people are especially vulnerable, and more likely to be seriously injured when they do fall. But, anyone can fall when confronted with an unexpected slick surface or a broken sidewalk or other hazard. And, anyone can sustain serious injuries in a fall.

When a fall occurs on someone else’s property, you may have a slip and fall or trip and fall case. But, you shouldn’t assume the property owner is liable just because you happened to be on their property when you fell. The property owner is only responsible for your injuries if they failed to live up to their duty to you. That duty differs in different situations.

Here are some signals that you may have a slip and fall claim against the owner of the property where you were hurt.

  1. You were invited or welcomed onto the property. In Florida, landowners have different duties of care depending on the reason a person is on their property. Businesses like retail stores invite the public onto their property for their own profit, and are held to the highest standard of care. Social hosts and others who allow people on their property also have a level of responsibility to their guests, but it isn’t as strict. And, landowners generally aren’t required to keep premises safe for trespassers, though they must refrain from intentionally harming them. A local slip and fall lawyer is the best source of information about the duty of care owed to you in your particular circumstances, and whether it appears that the landowner may have failed in that duty.
  2. Your injury was due to hazards on the property. “Hazards” may sound dramatic, but could be as simple as a loose stair railing or debris on the floor. You may have a slip and fall or trip and fall claim if you fell on someone else’s property and:
    • The floor or other public walking area was not well maintained. That may mean that there was debris on the floor/ground that presented a tripping hazard, or that a throw rug didn’t have proper backing and you slid when you stepped on it, that a floorboard stuck up and caused you to trip, there was an unexpected change in the level of the floor, or any other dangerous condition that caused or contributed to your fall.
    • The floor or walking area was wet. Florida has special rules for liquid on the floor in a retail establishment, but the business is still responsible for slip and fall accidents caused by liquids spilled or floors wet from cleaning in the public areas of the business if they knew of the hazard or reasonably should have known. For example, if an employee mopped the floor and left it wet and slippery, or if a spill was reported to an employee and it wasn’t promptly cleaned up. Even if they didn’t actually know about the spill, a business may still be responsible if they should reasonably have been expected to know.
    • Visibility was poor. Hazards aren’t always related to the item you trip on or surface you slip on. Sometimes, slips and trips happen due to poor visibility in the walking area. For example, an apartment manager might be liable for a trip that occurred in an unlit or poorly lit stairwell. A property owner may even be responsible for slips and trips that occur in unlit or poorly lit outdoor areas on the property.
  3. There were no signs or other warnings about the hazard. Property owners aren’t always required to fix every potential problem on their property, and they can’t always make repairs immediately. In these situations, a warning to visitors to the property may be sufficient. One common example you have probably seen is the “wet floor” signs often placed in retail aisles and other public areas after liquid has spilled or a floor has been freshly mopped. If the property owner gave adequate notice of the hazard and the injured person ignored it, the owner likely wouldn’t be responsible for the accident.
  4. You were injured in the fall. Obviously, proving that the landowner was negligent and that the negligence caused your accident is key to a slip and fall case. But, you also have to prove that you suffered damages as a result of the fall. These damages typically include things like your medical expenses and compensation for income you lost when you were off work recovering from the fall. If you don’t have any quantifiable damages from the fall, then you don’t have a claim to pursue, even if someone else was responsible for the fall.

The information here provides a general overview of the common signs that you may have a personal injury claim after a slip and fall accident. But, you may not be sure whether you fall into the category of invitee or licensee, or know how to determine whether a property owner reasonably should have known about a hazard on the property. The best source of information is always an attorney who is knowledgeable about Florida premises liability law and has experience with Florida personal injury claims.

An Experienced Slip and Fall Attorney is Your Best Resource

When you consult with an experienced slip and fall lawyer at Harrell & Harrell, we’ll look at the specifics of your case and tell you whether you likely have a claim, any obstacles to proving that claim, and what types of damages you may be entitled to if you choose to pursue a slip and fall claim.

It’s best to have this conversation as soon as possible after your fall, since what you do in the days and weeks after your slip and fall injury can either help or hurt your claim. To learn more about your options and how our slip and fall attorneys can help you build the strongest possible slip and fall case, contact us today. Just call (904) 251-1111 or fill out our contact form.