Slip and fall accidents can happen when least expected and result in serious harm to a victim. One out of five falls causes a serious injury, such as broken bones or a head injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These types of accidents can not only hurt you physically but also financially. Medical costs for fall injuries are $31 billion annually, with hospital costs accounting for two-thirds of the total.
Our Ocala slip and fall attorneys can assist victims of slip and fall accidents in filing a lawsuit for compensation. Compensation can help with all the bills and expenses you are burdened with. Whether the slip and fall occurred in a grocery store, shopping mall, or office building, our Ocala attorneys can work with you to determine if you have a viable lawsuit.
If you or a loved one was injured in a slip and fall accident, we may be able to help. To find out what our Ocala slip and fall attorneys may be able to do for you, please fill out our free case evaluation form today.
How Our Attorneys Can Help With These Claims
Our Ocala attorneys will work with you to determine if you have a viable slip and fall case. In handling your claim, your slip and fall attorney may:
Gather Evidence: To prove that the owner or occupier was negligent in maintaining the property and that this negligence contributed to your injuries, your attorney may:
- Visit the scene of the accident;
- Take photographs of the dangerous condition;
- Review video surveillance to establish how long the unsafe condition existed;
- Question witnesses;
- Obtain copies of accident reports; or
- Review a store’s operational records and store cleaning logs.
It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible following a slip and fall accident because witnesses often forget important details. Over time, key pieces of evidence may become lost or destroyed. In some cases, the attorney will take depositions of store employees to establish that the area where the accident occurred was not regularly cleaned or maintained.
Assess Injuries and Necessary Medical Treatment: Your attorney will review your medical records to evaluate the extent of your injuries. Your attorney may also work with a medical expert who may offer testimony regarding the medical treatments and rehabilitation procedures needed for you to recover.
In many slip and fall cases, injured victims suffer back injuries, which are among the most difficult injuries to diagnose and treat. The severity of a back injury may not become apparent until several months following the slip and fall accident. A medical expert will evaluate the extent of your injuries to help ensure you are fully compensated for the damages you suffered.
Negotiate a Settlement: In some cases, the slip and fall attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement with the property owner or its insurance company. Cases often settle because property owners and their insurance companies seek to avoid the costs and negative media reports that can be associated with a jury trial. As part of the settlement process, your attorney may present evidence detailing the economic and noneconomic damages you incurred as a result of the slip and fall accident. If the settlement negotiations do not result in an adequate settlement offer, your attorney will prepare the case for trial.
Elements of an Ocala Slip and Fall Lawsuit
Under Florida law, a person injured in a slip and fall accident must satisfy the following two elements to have a valid claim:
- The owner had actual knowledge of the dangerous condition or should have reasonably known through the use of due care that the dangerous condition existed. *The injured victim was unaware of the dangerous condition.
To prove that a property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition, your slip and fall attorney may present evidence that the dangerous condition had existed for such a long period of time that it should have been discovered by the owner of the property if he or she had exercised reasonable care in inspecting the premises.
For instance, your attorney may present evidence that a department store’s employees were in the immediate vicinity of the dangerous condition and should have noticed and removed the hazard. Your attorney may also present evidence that the store was understaffed, and therefore, the store owner failed to satisfy the duty to maintain a property free from hazards.
Dealing with Insurance Companies in Slip and Fall Cases
Insurance companies for property owners frequently attempt to avoid liability by claiming that the victim could have somehow walked around the dangerous condition, but failed to do so. Soon after an accident, insurance companies have been known to ask slip and fall victims leading questions so that they inadvertently make concessions that can be used to limit the insurance company’s liability if a lawsuit is filed.
For example, insurance companies often try to argue that the “open and obvious doctrine” applies by claiming that the injured person was not watching where he or she was walking or in some other way failed to exercise due care. Under the open and obvious doctrine, a property owner is not liable for injuries if the existence of the dangerous condition was obvious, yet the injured person voluntarily walked into it.
Before giving any statements to an insurance company, it is important that you first speak to an attorney who can advise you of your rights under Florida law.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Each of the following may indicate negligence on the part of the property owner or occupier:
- Improper maintenance of roads, sidewalks, and buildings
- Failure to display proper safety signs and warnings
- Unlit walkways
- Hazardous staircases or escalators, including broken steps, missing handles, or any other malfunction
- Wet, unmarked surfaces
- Hazardous material in the path of a pedestrian
- Building code violations
- Understaffed nursing homes
If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, we may be able to help. To learn more about how an Ocala slip and fall attorney may be able to help you, please fill out our free case evaluation form today.