Articles Posted in Slip And Fall

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Earlier this month, a woman who broke her ankle after slipping and falling on ice outside a Marriott hotel had her case reversed based on an error the trial judge made while instructing the jury. In the case, Alcala v. Marriott International, the court held that the jury’s general verdict finding the defendant negligent had to be reversed because two of the four theories of liability provided to the jury were based on improper instructions. As a result, the plaintiff will need to try the case all over again.

Snowy WalkwayAlcala v. Marriott International:  The Facts

Alcala was on a business trip staying at a Marriott hotel. During her stay, as she was exiting the hotel, she slipped on a sidewalk outside one of the hotel’s main exits. As a result of her fall, she sustained a broken ankle. She then filed a premises liability lawsuit against Marriott, claiming the company was negligent.

The plaintiff claimed that Marriott was negligent in several ways. First, its employees were not properly trained to handle icy walkways. Second, the company was negligent for failing to inspect the sidewalk. Third, the company was negligent for failing to safely maintain the sidewalk. Finally, the company was negligent for failing to use slip-resistant materials when constructing the sidewalk.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Maine dismissed a premises liability case against a city government because the plaintiff failed to notify the government being sued within 180 days of his injury. In the case, Deschenes v. City of Sanford, the court determined that the plaintiff’s verbal notification that he was going to file the lawsuit was not sufficient to meet the requirements of the state’s Tort Claims Act.

stairs-1215277The Plaintiff Fell Outside City Hall

The plaintiff was visiting city hall to obtain a copy of his daughter’s birth certificate when he tripped on some raised tread and fell down the stairs. After falling down the stairs, he slid into a set of glass doors and was injured as a result. City employees at the scene provided the man with some basic medical care until the ambulance arrived and could take him to the hospital. Upon arrival, it was discovered that he had not suffered serious or life-threatening injuries, although he did have a few “abrasions.”

The plaintiff did nothing for the first 177 days following the accident. However, on the 178th day, he again went to city hall, this time to inform the government that he would be filing a lawsuit against them for failing to maintain safe premises. However, when he arrived, all the doors were closed. He was able to speak with one employee, and he informed that employee that he would be filing a personal injury lawsuit. A few weeks later, the city received formal notice that the plaintiff had filed a lawsuit.

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of North Dakota issued an opinion in a premises liability case brought by a woman who was seriously injured when she fell to the ground after stepping on a rotten board at a county fairground. In the case, Woody v. Pembina County Annual Fair & Exhibition Association, the court determined that the fairground was not liable because they were entitled to immunity under the state’s recreational use statute.

fireworks-1550276What Is a Recreational Use Statute?

In general, owners of land have a duty to those whom they invite onto their property to keep the property safe and free of dangerous conditions that may result in serious injury or death. However, there are a few exceptions to this general rule, one of which being when the owner of the land opens up the land for free use to the general public for recreational purposes.

In Florida, the recreational use statute is designed to “encourage persons to make land, water areas, and park areas available to the public for outdoor recreational purposes by limiting their liability.” To do this, the law states that a land owner who opens up his or her land to the general public for recreational use “owes no duty of care to keep that area safe for entry or use by others, or to give warning to persons entering or going on that area of any hazardous conditions, structures, or activities on the area.”

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Florida premises liability law requires that the owners and managers of businesses maintain their establishments in a reasonably safe condition. If this does not happen, a person who is injured on the property may bring a lawsuit seeking financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.

When someone brings suit to recover damages for injuries sustained in an accident arising from allegedly unsafe conditions on business property, some in the legal community refer to it as a “slip and fall” case. In Florida, there are several statutory requirements that must be met in order for such a case to be successful. The District Court of Appeal for the Fourth District of Florida recently ruled that a particular woman’s case failed under statutory law.

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boat2If you or a loved one has been injured due to another party’s negligence, you may be surprised to know that, in most cases arising under Florida law, you do not have a legal right to sue the responsible party’s insurance company directly. This is true even if you were contacted soon after the accident by a representative of the insurance company and have never even spoken directly with the person or business that caused your injury.

The rationale for the “nonjoinder statute,” as it is called by the courts, is that a jury should not be told whether a defendant has liability insurance because an award of damages would be more likely if the jury knows that an insurance company (rather than the negligent party) would actually be writing the check at the end of the day. In the recent case of Starr Indemnity & Liability Co. v. Morris, the plaintiff attempted to find a way around this general rule by asserting a breach of contract claim, rather than a negligence action, against the insurance company under a medical payment provision.
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Personal Injury Lawyers Fort Lauderdale

When it comes to a slip and fall accident, sometimes the victims involved miss their opportunity to properly file a lawsuit. If you’ve recently been injured in a slip and fall accident, be sure to speak with a professional slip and fall accident attorney before beginning the journey on your own.

Reasons to File

There are many reasons to file a slip and fall lawsuit. It’s important to know everything about the incident to help prove your case. Here are a few important factors to pay attention to.

  • If the accident occurred and was due to another’s negligence, then that person is at fault. For example, sometimes spills occur and no one is warned, informed or even aware that the accident happened.
  • If the manager or owner was aware of the accident and took too long to repair or clean it up, he or she may be at fault. It is his or her job to ensure the customers or employees in their place of business are safe.
  • If a victim is seriously injured in this accident, then properly filing a claim can help the victim and/or the victim’s family receives a fair settlement.

Slip and Fall Examples

Slip and fall accidents can occur from a number of reasons. They can happen inside a building or outside on the property. Depending on how far the property extends and what accident occurs, the owner can be at fault. If you sustained an injury on business property, the owner might also be at fault. Some of the examples of injuries that may justify filing a slip and fall claim include:

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Slip and Fall Injuries

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, injuries as a result of slipping, tripping or falling are among the most common injuries. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.

Over a million Americans suffer such injuries annually. While tripping or slipping may seem like a minor problem it kills over 17,000 Americans a year.Falls are to blame for nearly nine million visits to American emergency rooms annually.

Slips, trips, and falls are the second most common cause of workplace fatalities. They account for 15% of all reported work-related injuries. Last year nearly seven hundred American workers died of workplace falls, slips, or trips.

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Swimming pools and water parks offer hours of entertainment and relaxation for adults and children alike. During the summer months, pools may be packed with friends, relatives and vacationers. However, the increased volume of bathers may unfortunately contribute to the proliferation of unsafe conditions around pools, as adults are forced to focus on other issues besides keeping the pool area free of hazards such as excess water, toys and refuse. While preventing swimmers from drowning is a critical aspect of pool safety, many forget that a great deal of accidents involve injuries sustained through falls on the pool deck.

Poolside risks

The materials out of which pools and their surrounding areas are constructed can be, by their nature, more susceptible to accidents, as the chlorinated water from the pool may create a perpetually slippery surface on the pool deck. This is exacerbated by the fact that most people are either barefoot or clad only in sandals or slippers, neither of which provides the necessary traction on a slick pool area. Tiled locker rooms and entryways may present additional dangers in the case of public pools and water parks.

Safety measures for pool owners

While common sense goes a long way to achieving pool safety, there are legal requirements with which pool owners must remain compliant. These include not only water quality standards and guard and barrier maintenance requirements, but also the standard negligence rules that require property owners to eliminate dangerous conditions ― such as slippery floors they have or should have knowledge of. This means that a pool owner may be liable for a condition that existed long enough that they should have known about it. It also includes regularly occurring conditions that the pool owner could have foreseen.

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According to the Polk County Fire Rescue, one person died on June 1, 2013 after a fire broke out in a small apartment complex. Another man sustained serious injuries when an explosion damaged an apartment spreading the fire further. The building sustained water and smoke damage. Additionally, 11 residents were displaced by the fire. County and state authorities are conducting investigations for the cause of death and fire.

The term premises liability refers broadly to landlords’ liability for injuries to others on their property, often involving slip and fall accidents or dog bite scenarios on residential, commercial or government property. A landlord is not expected to insure its tenants or occupants’ safety absolutely, but it is obligated to keep the premises reasonably safe. Safety is a complex, fact-specific standard that depends, though not decisively, on who gets hurt. The injured person may be categorized as an:

  • Invitee — Someone on the premises at the express or implied behest of a property owner, like a supermarket customer, social guest or sporting event fan. The owner needs to maintain the property in a safe condition and correct dangers the defendant knew or should have known about.
  • Licensee — An individual on the property with the explicit or unstated permission of the owner, but with no business interest. For example, someone breaking a large bill at a 7-11. Owners owe them a greater duty than trespassers, but less than invitees.
  • Trespasser — An owner owes a limited duty to prevent only intentional or reckless injuries to a person who enters the property without any authority.

Under Florida law it is crucial for the plaintiff to prove the landlord had actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition. If the condition existed for ample time and there was no inspection or remedy, the landlord may be deemed on “constructive” notice — whether in the case of criminal activity or a sinkhole on the premises.

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A “slip and fall” injury can damage more than just your self-esteem. Slip and falls are a leading cause of injuries, sometimes resulting in fatalities. Whether at a shop, office, apartment or government complex, your injury can cause months of intense pain and rehabilitation, lost wages and over-the-top medical bills.

There are some proactive and simple steps you can take to help yourself:

  1. Get immediate and ongoing medical help. The full extent of your injury or pain may not be understood until later. If you dislike going to the doctor, you may choose to suffer through the pain — but delaying medical treatment can upset your case just as much as accepting a settlement before you know the extent of your injury. Without immediate or ongoing treatment, the insurer may argue that some later event caused your condition.
  2. Create a detailed file, ASAP. You must prove your accident was caused by certain conditions. For reasons of legal evidence, it is preferable if the property manager creates a timely report. While potential defendants are usually disinclined to help your case — sometimes they even displace or destroy evidence — they may inadvertently admit things against their interest which may be helpful to your case. A report of the accident should include detailed witness statements and the circumstances of the fall, with exact time and dates. In this way, you can guard against a defendant who may claim your injury never happened.
  3. Determine what caused the accident. For a sustainable injury claim, it is essential to identify the injury causing condition. For example, was it an uneven surface or a hole in the ground? Did a solid or liquid object cause your fall? Time and date-stamped photos can spark your memory about an overlooked but vital detail. If cracks or uneven surfaces caused your fall, a simple ruler may gauge the scale of the location. Be aware that the accident scene often changes because the owner may remove or displace evidence. Some locations, like a construction site, evolve daily.
  4. Retain a competent law firm. A quality firm will have the means and expertise to thoroughly analyze the location where you fell by obtaining proof of prior problems at the scene from witnesses, physical evidence and/or surveillance video footage and will pick the appropriate expert for your case. The attorneys may partner with a structural engineer to prove safety hazards. If a trial is necessary, an expert jury consultant may help. A reputable lawyer can identify all potential defendants — owners (sometimes multiple), employers, parent companies and service providers. Sometimes you are dealing with a major conglomerate with an army of lawyers. In Florida, your case must be filed within four years or you risk permanently forfeiting your right to sue.

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident in Florida, level the playing field by contacting the Law Offices of Cohn & Smith, PA.

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