Thursday, August 4, 2016

Slip And Falls In Florida: The Law In General

Imagine you are at your local supermarket shopping for groceries. You are looking up and down the shelves for that perfect dinner item when all of a sudden your feet slip out from underneath you. Next thing you know you are on the ground. You feel pain, whether it’s in your knee, your wrist, your foot, or anywhere really. As you lay there on the ground, panic begins to set in. Did I break a bone? Will I have to go to the hospital? Is this my fault? Believe it or not, thousands of people in Florida have been in the same exact position. Their injury may not have occurred in a supermarket, but the injuries are the same. It is important to understand that you are not alone, and Florida has laws that protect those who have been the victim of a slip and fall accident.
How common are slip and falls in Florida?
More common than you might think. Most slip and falls go unreported, mainly because people do not know their rights and what remedies they may have. That is why it is important to understand your rights, and to know when you should go speak to an attorney. As far as those slip and falls that are reported, the number is into the tens of thousands. Each case is different and presents its own set of circumstances. The true value of a case, or its chances of success vary greatly depending on the facts. There are many dangerous conditions like torn carpeting, changes in flooring, poor lighting, narrow stairs, or a wet floor that can cause someone to slip and be injured.[1] Same goes if someone trips on a broken or cracked public sidewalks, or falls down a flight of stairs.[2] In addition, a slip and fall case might arise when someone slips or falls outdoors because of rain, ice, snow or a hidden hazard, such as a pothole in the ground.[3] According to the National Safety Council and the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
·      In the United States alone, over one million people suffer a significant injury due to a slip & fall
·      An average of 17,000 American die each year from slip and fall injuries.
·      Falling accounts for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits yearly[4]
As you can see, the statistics speak for themselves. Slip and falls can most certainly cause serious injuries.
Are there really laws to protect me?
Yes. In Florida, a statute exists to assist those who have been injured as the result of a slip and fall. This statute, 768.0755, explicitly states that a business can be liable if someone slips and falls while visiting. It is important to understand however that the business is not automatically liable just because you fell. The statute tells us that someone who falls has to prove that that the business had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it. Basically, this says that a person who falls has to prove that either the business knew about the condition, or should have known about it due to the length of time it existed. Let’s say there is a puddle of water on the floor. The puddle of water is next to a freezer. The company knew that the unit was broken and that it had been leaking, but they put no sign out to warn customers of the potential danger. That would be an example of actual notice. They knew about it, and did nothing to fix it. Constructive notice on the other hand is a little different. Let’s say for example that an ice machine is sitting at the front of the store. You realize after you have fallen that half of the ice has already melted and turned to water. One could make the argument that the ice, because it was partially melted, had been on the floor long enough to have been noticed by an employee and cleaned up. That would be an example of constructive notice. They may not have actually knew about it, but the condition existed long enough that they should have.
What should I do after I have fallen?
It is important to understand that after a fall, you may be severely injured. Some of those injuries are going to be obvious. You will most likely feel pain if you broke a bone or tore a tendon as a result of the fall. But other injuries are less noticeable. If, for instance, you hit your head on the ground during the fall, you may have a concussion, or worse, damage to the brain itself. Always be cautious, and even if you think your injuries are not severe, you should be examined by a licensed physician immediately. If you do not have someone who can take you to the emergency room, take an ambulance. The last thing you want to do is refuse medical treatment and find out down the road that you have a serious injury that could have been addressed right after the fall.
Should I contact an attorney?
It’s always best to meet with an experienced attorney after a slip and fall that way you understand your rights. Based on the circumstances surrounding your fall, you may be entitled to compensation. Speaking with a licensed attorney is the only way to know for sure. If you have been the victim of a slip and fall, or know someone who has, please call the experienced attorneys at the Dolman Law Group. They understand what you are going through, and are here to give you professional advice about how to move forward. Don’t suffer another day, call us at 727-451-6900.   
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
[2] Id.
[3] Id.