Fort Lauderdale Slip and Fall Lawyer
One minute you’re shopping at your local grocery store in Fort Lauderdale, the next you’re on your back with a broken hip and a concussion. What happened? An unsafe property hazard that someone could have – and should have – prevented. If you recently sustained injuries in a slip, trip, or fall accident in Fort Lauderdale, know that someone may be responsible for paying your medical costs and other physical, personal, and financial losses.Our Fort Lauderdale slip and fall injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Chalik & Chalik can help you pursue damages in slip and fall accidents.
Slip and fall accidents are often associated with wintery weather, snow, and ice. But these cases are a surprisingly common occurrence in sunny locales too, including Fort Myers and elsewhere in Florida. Many slip and fall accidents can be attributed to a property owner or manager’s negligence or carelessness. Injuries can include everything from sprained ankles to serious head trauma or paralysis.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Slip and Fall Injury Attorney
At the Law Offices of Chalik & Chalik, we’ve handled hundreds of premises liability claims throughout Florida. We’ve won million-dollar settlements for our past clients with rigorous legal representation in and out of the courtroom. Our team of Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers want to help you fight for justice against a negligent property owner or other party that caused your slip and fall. You could recover for your medical bills, pain and suffering, missed time at work, and other fall-related damages with help from a legal settlement or win. Call our office today for a free, no obligation consultation.
Below is a guide to understanding how slip and falls occur, why they typically signal negligence and what a victim can do to protect his or her rights to compensation.
How Slip and Fall Accidents Occur
A slip and fall accident occurs when a victim loses traction while walking (owing to a hazard such as water, oil, ice, liquid, fabric) and literally falls.
A slip and fall victim will most often fall backward. This can result in injuries such as:
- broken bones (including, but not limited to, fractures of the arms, legs, wrists, hands, ankles, feet, pelvis or hips)
- traumatic brain injury
- spinal trauma
- herniated disc;
- neck injury
Slip and fall injuries – particularly hip fractures – can be especially dangerous and even fatal for elderly victims.
Where Can Slip and Fall Injuries Occur?
While slip and fall injuries can occur anywhere and anytime, there are certain places that are more prone to these types of accidents. Major grocery store chains and International airports can be locations that make you especially vulnerable to a fatal slip and fall accident. According to data released by the National Floor Safety Institute, falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits every year and is the leading cause of ER visits. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), flooring and floor materials contribute directly to more than 2 million injuries per year and most occur at ground level.
Why the Location of a Slip and Fall Accident Is Important
The place where the accident occurs is important as it determines the damages that are available, the parties to sue, the liability rules and the steps that you need to take to pursue a slip and fall accident claim. The unique circumstances of the accident’s location can influence the outcome of a slip and fall lawsuit.
A slip and fall lawsuit aims to identify the parties legally responsible for the hazardous condition. Figuring out who is liable is not always easy or straightforward. Many factors need to be examined to determine fault. This includes whether the party had control over the dangerous condition. If so, did they fail to fix it despite knowing about it? For example, store employees responsible for keeping floors clean could have been careless in mopping up spilled liquids, causing you to slip and fall.
A slip and fall accident can leave you or your loved ones injured and in need of medical care through no fault of your own. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, there are several steps you should take immediately after the incident. Make sure you report it to the store manager, landlord or any other person in charge of where the accident took place. You should also remember to document your accident as it could be of help later in case you choose to take legal action. Also note the names and contact information for any witnesses. Be certain to seek medical attention immediately for your injuries, even if you feel they are not serious. Injuries from slip and fall accidents can range from minor scrapes and bumps to serious injuries such as broken bones and head trauma.
Examples of common slip/fall accident locations:
Why Slip and Fall Accidents Typically Signal Negligence
Slip and fall accidents are prosecuted as premises liability claims. This is because property and business owners are legally obligated to maintain reasonably safe premises. This includes minimizing hazards that lead to slip and fall accidents. A slip and fall accident often is the result of an owner or property manager’s negligence.
Examples of negligence and liability include failing to:
- perform routine maintenance, such as fixing a leaky pipe that drips onto a floor, creating a slip hazard;
- install high-traction flooring;
- mop up or otherwise remove spilled liquids; and
- warn the public of a slip and fall hazard.
A Fort Lauderdale slip and fall attorney can help determine if negligence played a role in a slip and fall accident and identify all financially liable parties.
What a Slip and Fall Victim Can Do to Protect His or Her Rights
A slip and fall injury victim may have the right to pursue compensation in a personal injury claim or lawsuit and damages may include:
- medical expenses (including the cost of all medical tests and procedures deemed medically necessary in connection with an accident injury);
- lost income (a claim may cover a portion of lost wages and the loss of future income in connection with the injury);
- other accident-related expenses (such as transportation, home healthcare and housekeeping);
- pain and suffering (to account for the negative impact of the accident on a victim’s day-to-day life); and
- wrongful death damages (available to qualified family members in the event of a fatal accident).
Hiring a lawyer is an important first step in protecting your right to compensation. Learn about your options by contacting the attorneys at Chalik & Chalik. Call (954) 476-1000 or contact us via our online form.
What Is a Transitory Foreign Substance in a Slip/Fall Case?
You might come across the term “transitory foreign substance” during your slip and fall case in Florida. This is a legal phrase that stems from a specific Florida premises liability statute. It refers to any liquid or solid substance that is somewhere it does not belong. If your case involves you slipping or tripping on an object, liquid, or other substance that should not have been there, you will need to understand the laws surrounding transitory foreign substances in Florida premises liability claims.
What Does the Law Say About Transitory Foreign Substances?
Florida slip and fall laws have a special provision regarding lawsuits over “transitory foreign substances” at business establishments. Florida Statutes Section 768.0755 states that if a person slips and falls on a transitory foreign substance on a commercial property, the victim must prove that the establishment had “actual or constructive knowledge” of the transitory foreign substance yet failed to take action to prevent accidents. Constructive knowledge is something a plaintiff may prove through evidence such as:
- The substance existed for so long that a reasonable business establishment would have known about the condition.
- The hazard occurred regularly and was therefore foreseeable.
Proving a transitory foreign substance existed – and that the business should have known about it – may require testimony from eyewitnesses. It can be a difficult burden of proof for a victim, since he or she must not only show that the hazard existed, but that the store was negligent in failing to prevent an accident. An attorney can help an injured person prove that the item had either been there long enough or happened often enough to result in store liability.
About the Case that Created the “Transitory Foreign Substance” Statute
The case where lawmakers first defined transitory foreign substance, Owens v. Publix Supermarkets, Inc., involved a victim who slipped on a banana and fell at a Publix in Florida. The banana was a transitory foreign substance because it was in the chip and bread aisle instead of where it belonged – with the other bananas on a stand in the produce aisle. The first footnote that defined this term stated that it was a “liquid or solid substance, item, or object located where it does not belong. A substance found where it is not supposed to be found.” Examples of transitory foreign substances on floors include:
- Spilled food or drink items
- Broken eggs
- Oil or grease
- Floor wax or cleaner
- Melted ice
Florida premises liability trials, trial court orders, and appellate court decisions may all use the term “transitory foreign substance” when deciding slip and fall claims. In the Owens case, a trial court sided with Publix, stating that the victim’s evidence was not enough to show that Publix should be liable. The victim went on to appeal the decision but did not win the case. Still, her lawsuit changed all future premises liability cases in Florida by establishing a definition and burden of proof for claims involving transitory foreign substances.
Fort Lauderdale Slip/Fall Laws
Unintentional falls are the number one cause of injury-related death in Florida residents 65 and older. Every year, thousands of Floridians die in fall incidents, and tens of thousands more go to hospitals for non-fatal fall injuries. A slip and fall can result in damages from broken bones to brain and spinal cord injuries, depending on the setting. A fall from the top of a staircase, for example, could be deadly. Property owners and leasers owe duties of care to visitors to prevent these accidents from occurring. These responsibilities include:
- Repairing known hazards, such as faulty staircases, elevator/escalator issues, loose carpeting, an uneven curb, icy parking lot, or a wet/oily floor. Property owners must repair known issues in a timely manner, so as to avoid related injuries to unsuspecting visitors.
- Searching for unknown hazards. When visitors are “invitees,” such as customers at a store, property owners must also reasonably search for and repair unknown hazards. For example, a property owner should schedule regular maintenance on plumbing systems to prevent leaks and wet floors in bathrooms.
- Warn of existing property hazards. Some areas are inherently dangerous, such as pool decks. Property owners should post warning signs such as “Caution: Slippery When Wet,” or “Wet Floors” as necessary to notify guests of a known or foreseeable property hazard. Otherwise, property visitors would have no way of reasonably seeing or predicting the hazard.
To find a property owner guilty of negligence in a slip and fall case, the courts must rule a “reasonable and prudent” person would have done something different in the same circumstances. For example, say the plaintiff suffered injuries because of a freshly waxed floor at a shopping mall. In this case, the plaintiff would need to prove the property owner’s negligence, such as failing to post a warning sign. The courts must rule that the property owner should have done something to prevent the harm.
Slip and Fall Injury Statistics
According to data collected by the CDC, fall death rates in the U.S have increased by 30% from 2007-2016. The data suggests that if these rates continue to rise, there will be 7 fall fatalities every hour by 2030. According to their report, each year 3 million older people (those who are 65 and older) are treated in the emergency room for their fall injuries. These injuries include traumatic brain injuries (TBI), hip fractures, head injuries and broken bones. Slip and fall accidents cost $50 billion annually — this includes $9 billion in Medicaid, $12 billion for out of pocket and $29 billion in Medicare expenses.
How to Prove Your Slip and Fall Case
If your slip and fall accident happened at a business establishment because of something on the floor that should not have been there, contact a lawyer. These cases are notoriously difficult to prove, but our attorney can improve your chances of achieving a settlement or verdict. A lawyer may need to investigate the accident, speak to witnesses, gather evidence, and use comparable cases to help prove your claim.
Again, it is not enough to show a transitory foreign substance is what caused your fall. You must take your case a step farther and prove the business establishment knew or should have known that the substance, item, or object existed but did not do anything to remedy the dangerous condition. Contact our attorneys to discuss your slip and fall case in more detail.