Fort Lauderdale Slip and Fall Attorney for Compensation After a Fall
If you are suffering injuries because of a slip and fall accident, a Fort Lauderdale slip and fall attorney at Maus Law Firm can help. Slip and fall personal injuries can be painful, even catastrophic. And the sad truth is that many of these accidents would never have happened if the person who owns or is responsible for maintaining the property had taken reasonable care of the premises.
Injuries suffered on another’s property – whether it is a home, store, apartment complex, shop, office, sidewalk, or commercial building – are often the result of negligent maintenance or even complete disregard for the safety of others.
If you or a family member suffered injuries from a slip and fall or some other type of accident away from your home, contact us for a consultation, you may have a personal injury claim. But how you go about proving your claim and the Fort Lauderdale slip and fall lawyer you select can make all the difference.
When Should a Victim Contact a Fort Lauderdale Slip and Fall Lawyer?
In order to recover financial compensation for injuries sustained in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident, it is necessary to prove negligence on the part of the owner of the property or business where you fell. The one major exception is for job-related accidents, for which injured employees can often collect no-fault workers’ compensation benefits. However, injured workers may have “third-party” claims against property owners and other businesses as well; and, for this reason, we recommend that all fall victims consult with a Fort Lauderdale slip and fall law firm to seek full compensation for their injury-related losses.
When it comes to slip-and-fall accident claims (also known as “premises liability” claims), negligence can take many different forms. For example, common grounds for seeking just compensation from property and business owners include:
- Failure to perform necessary maintenance or make necessary repairs
- Failure to install and maintain adequate lighting
- Failure to place warning signs, install fencing or cordon off hazardous areas
- Failure to repair (or prevent access to) malfunctioning elevators and escalators
- Failure to clear walkway obstructions or clean up spills
- Faulty construction of buildings, sidewalks, parking lots, and stairwells
- Other forms of negligence that expose guests, customers and employees to unnecessary and avoidable slip and trip risks
Who Can File a Slip and Fall Accident Claim in Florida?
Another important aspect of premises liability cases in Florida is that the reason why the victim was on the property matters. A key element of any negligence-based claim is proof of a “duty,” and property owners and tenants owe different duties under different circumstances. When evaluating your claim, one of your Fort Lauderdale slip and fall attorney’s first tasks will be to determine what duty was owed based on the reason why you were on the premises where you slipped and fell.
Under Florida law, when you are on someone else’s property, you are either classified as: (i) an invitee, (ii) an invited licensee, (iii) an uninvited licensee, or (iv) a trespasser.
1. Your Legal Rights as an “Invitee”
If you are patronizing a business or on public land for authorized purposes, you are considered an “invitee” (Florida cases have further divided this category into “public invitees” and “business invitees,” although the rights of all invitees are the same). With respect to invitees, property owners and tenants have a duty to remedy or warn of dangers of which they either (i) are aware, or (ii) should be aware with the exercise of reasonable diligence. In other words, they have an ongoing obligation to maintain their premises in reasonably safe condition.
2. You’re Protected If You Were Invited to the Property
If you are visiting someone else’s residence with an invitation, you are considered an “invited licensee.” Under Florida law, residential property owners owe the same legal duty to invited licensees as business owners owe to invitees.
3. Our Fort Lauderdale Slip and Fall Lawyers Can Help You Even if You Lacked an Invitation to Use the Property
If you are visiting a business or residence for your own purposes without an invitation, you are considered an “uninvited licensee.” This would be the case, for example, if you were going door-to-door soliciting business or donations. With respect to uninvited licensees, property owners and tenants in Florida have a duty only to refrain from causing “willful or wanton injury.” In other words, property owners cannot attack uninvited licensees (subject to Florida’s “stand your ground law”) or set traps designed to cause physical harm to unwanted visitors.
4. What if You Were Trespassing When You Slipped and Fell?
If you are on someone else’s property without authorization and without any legally-permissible purpose, you are considered a “trespasser.” In Florida, trespassers have the same legal rights as uninvited licensees with regard to seeking just compensation for injuries from slips and falls.
What was your legal status when you slipped and fell? Most likely, you were either an invitee or an invited licensee, so the property owner or tenant had a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect you against unnecessary harm. However, the property owner or tenant may dispute this; and, if it does, you will need your Fort Lauderdale slip and fall attorney to present a convincing case for just compensation. Attorney Joseph Maus has decades of experience handling slip and fall claims in Florida, and he can use this experience to prove your claim for damages.
The Legal Process for Slip and Fall Claims
It is important for a person who has been injured in a slip and fall accident to understand the legal process for making claims for compensation in Florida.
- Making a Claim With the Insurance Company: Your attorney is likely to first make a claim with the property owner’s insurance company. This is usually done in the form of a demand letter. The demand letter will state that the property owner is at fault for the client’s injury and make a demand for settlement. An experienced Fort Lauderdale slip and fall attorney will include critical information in the demand letter, such as information about the accident and evidence of the client’s injuries.
- Filing the Lawsuit: If the insurance company does not make an adequate settlement offer, your attorney may have no choice but to file a lawsuit against the property owner. However, the insurance company may still settle after the lawsuit is filed. In fact, filing the lawsuit can be exactly the leverage you need to force the insurance company to take your claim seriously.
- The Discovery Process: This is the phase of litigation where the two sides exchange information. The parties exchange written questions and answers and take depositions. In addition, an accident investigation will take place, and accident report will be created and statements may be obtained from witnesses.
- Trial: If the case reaches this point, the trial may be before a judge or jury. Both sides will present evidence and witness testimony, and the attorneys will present their arguments. Settlement may still be reached during trial or even after trial if there is the threat of an appeal.
A Fort Lauderdale slip and fall lawyer is essential for every step in this process. From dealing with the insurance company to taking the case to trial if necessary, your attorney will provide you with the best chance of recovering compensation.
Common Injuries in Falls
There are many ways that people can become injured in slip and fall accidents. Some of these are relatively minor, but others require hospitalization and might even produce long-term disabilities. Here are just a few common ways that people get hurt in these types of accidents:
1. Broken Bones
Often, when people fall, they attempt to catch themselves with their hands. This can cause broken bones in the hand or wrist.
In other cases, people can break their ankles, legs, hips or even fracture their skulls. Broken bones take a long time to heal, especially when the victim is elderly, so this kind of accident can have long-term consequences.
Injuring the spinal cord often is devastating and can result in partial or complete paralysis. This can happen when someone falls and hits his or her back on a hard object, such as a box or shelf, or when people fall at odd angles.
3. Head Trauma
A head wound can be dangerous. An open wound might bleed profusely; a closed wound might result in a brain injury or concussion. More severe head trauma can cause permanent, life-altering damage.
Damages Recovered in Florida Slip and Fall Cases
Serious injuries and even death can result from Fort Lauderdale slip and fall cases. Bone fractures, internal injuries and injuries to the head and spinal cord are all too common. Below are the most common forms of legal damages an injured victim can recover in slip and fall cases:
- Medical Expenses: This category includes bills for both past and future medical treatment. If a lawsuit is filed and the case proceeds to trial, expert testimony will likely be necessary to estimate future expenses.
- Pain and Suffering: While the amount of a pain and suffering award is unpredictable, it can be a substantial portion of a victim’s damages. If a slip and fall victim has to live with a serious injury that is long-lasting or even permanent, the amount of the pain and suffering award could potentially be high.
- Lost Wages: A person who misses work due to their slip and fall-related injuries may be entitled to recover lost wages.
- Lower Earning Capacity: If the injured victim can no longer perform the work they did before the accident or if they cannot earn as much, they may be able to recover damages for loss of earning capacity.
- Wrongful Death Damages: The family and loved ones of a person killed in a slip and fall may be able to recover wrongful death damages, such as loss of financial support and loss of companionship.
Our Fort Lauderdale Slip and Fall Attorney Advises You to Do the Following After a Fall
If you or a family member has suffered injuries from a slip and fall accident, ,you need to take immediate action. Along with scheduling a free consultation with a Fort Lauderdale slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible, we recommend taking the following actions:
- Seek medical attention. After an accident, your first step should always be to seek medical attention. Not only do you need to make sure that your injuries are treated right away, you need to be checked out because not all injuries from a slip and fall are readily apparent at the time of the accident. Latent injuries can cause big problems later. If you are seriously injured, call 911.
- Make sure your injuries are documented. Your Fort Lauderdale slip and fall attorney will need documentation of your injuries to help fight for just compensation for your injuries. Make sure you get this documentation from your doctor. If you called 911, get a copy of the EMS report.
- Get photographs. It is important to document the area where you fell. If you can, pull out your phone and take a photo of the accident and surrounding area as soon as the fall occurs. Insurance companies often try to dispute that a dangerous situation existed, and a picture paints a thousand words.
- Write down all the facts. The facts and details of your accident claim are extremely important. The location of the fall, the location of store employees near the fall, the type and size of the condition that caused you to fall, the lighting — these are all facts that play an important role in making a slip and fall or trip and fall claim. Write everything down while it is still fresh in your mind.
- Request that an accident report be completed right away. Most business employees are trained to complete an incident report. As experienced Fort Lauderdale slip and fall attorneys, we have seen situations where employees try to fix or clean up the dangerous condition that caused you to fall. Requesting that an incident report be filed at the time of your accident will make the business document that a fall occurred, that you were injured (be sure to explain all your injuries; and if you discover injuries later, go back and have the business update their report), and will hopefully contain notes about what caused you to fall. If your signature is requested on the incident report, MAKE SURE THE DETAILS ARE CORRECT, or the insurance company will try to use it against you in the future.
- Get witness names and contact information. There is strength in numbers. An insurance company and their attorneys will attempt to attack your credibility. But when your story is corroborated by another independent witness or two, who tell the same version of events that you have given, it makes it difficult for the insurance company to deny your claim.
Our Fort Lauderdale Slip and Fall Attorney Outlines the Importance of Video Surveillance Footage
Most businesses, especially retailers and grocery stores, use videotape cameras to record occurrences at the business. Although most businesses won’t admit it, the primary reason they use cameras is not due to guests, but to monitor their employees. A nice side effect to all the videotape cameras is that they capture everything that goes on at the business, including injuries and accidents that happen to guests. However, these videotapes usually tape over themselves after a certain period of time. In smaller businesses, the tape loop re-tapes every 24 hours. In larger businesses they keep the tapes for up to one week, or longer if the tape helps the business. If the tape shows a dangerous condition that caused a slip and fall accident, they usually get taped over or destroyed shortly after the accident.
An injured party should immediately notify the business where they become injured, in writing, that all evidence, including videotape surveillance of the business is to be preserved, without alteration, until the injured party has an opportunity to review the videotape. By taking this step — or asking your slip and fall lawyer to do so — you may possibly preserve the single, most critical piece of evidence to your claim.
Slip and Fall FAQs
Should I Go Back to Where I Slipped and Fell to Take Photos?
Once you leave the location where you fell, you should generally rely on a Fort Lauderdale slip and fall attorney to collect any additional evidence. Your attorney can hire an investigator to visit the scene and take photos, and this investigator will know exactly what to photograph in order to help prove your claim for damages.
In slip and fall cases, it is often important to gather evidence quickly before the property owner remedies the issue that caused you to fall. As a result, rather than returning to the location yourself, you should contact a Fort Lauderdale slip and fall attorney right away.
What if the Owner of the Property or Business Prepares a False Incident Report?
If the property or business owner prepares a false incident report, you should not sign it if asked to do so. Write down the details as you remember them, and then give your notes to your attorney. By conducting an investigation, talking to witnesses, and using your notes and medical records to prove both the cause and the extent of your injuries, your attorney can work to overcome any false information put forth by the property or business owner.
Can I Go to Work While My Slip and Fall Case is Pending?
The answer to this question depends on your doctor’s advice. If your doctor says that you can return to work without risking further injury or delaying your recovery, then there generally won’t be an issue with you returning to your job. However, if your doctor recommends that you rest while your injuries heal, then returning to work prematurely could be detrimental to both your recovery and your claim for financial compensation.
Due to the potential impacts on your slip and fall accident claim, before you return to work, you should consult with your attorney. Your attorney can help you make a smart decision. If returning to work would be ill-advised but you are also at risk for going into debt, there are options available that your attorney can help you consider as well.
What Should I Do if I Slipped and Fell While Visiting from Out of Town?
If you slipped and fell while visiting Fort Lauderdale from out of town, you should still see a local doctor, and you should consult with a Fort Lauderdale slip and fall attorney right away. You can return home as soon as it is safe for you to travel, but it is important that you seek treatment promptly, and you will need to hire an attorney in Fort Lauderdale to handle your claim.
How Long Do I Have to Get a Fort Lauderdale Slip and Fall Attorney?
In most cases, you have four years to file a slip and fall claim under Florida’s statute of limitations. However, you will need to take legal action much sooner in some cases (i.e. if you fell on public property); and, as we mentioned above, it will be important for your attorney to collect the available evidence as soon as possible.
Get the Help You Need from a Top Fort Lauderdale Slip and Fall Attorney
Your claim deserves a lawyer that is experienced in slip and fall accidents and premises liability cases. We know the law and we know how to successfully pursue a claim for you. Speak to a Fort Lauderdale slip and fall attorney in our South Florida office to have your questions answered. Call 1-855-999-5297 today.