Boca Raton Slip and Fall Accident Attorneys
Passionately Pursuing Compensation & Justice for Trip and Fall Victims
Slip, trip, and fall accidents are among the most misunderstood types of personal injury claims. The insurance industry has been effective in promulgating the myth that most fall victims are malingers looking to make a quick buck. These inaccurate stereotypes have been reinforced by the comedic depictions in television and movies of fall victims wearing “removable” neck braces. These misrepresentations are no laughing matter. Slip and fall injuries cause much more damage than a bruised ego. Falls cause the unintentional deaths of over 31,000 people annually, which nearly matches the number of motor vehicle accident fatalities each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The fact that millions of seniors (65 and older) fall each year is particularly concerning because Florida is a haven for retirees. The CDC reports that one in four seniors suffer a fall annually and that the risk of falling doubles for someone who has fallen in the past. Even when only seniors are considered, 2.8 million people per year are treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries, and 800,000 of those elderly fall victims are hospitalized for hip fractures or head injuries. Falls also constitute the most common cause of traumatic brain injury. Collectively, this data paints a very different picture than that of the comedic stereotype of slip and fall accidents. Slip and fall and trip and fall accidents are one of the leading causes of serious injury in the U.S. and even wrongful death.
Why Choose Shiner Law Group for a Slip, Trip & Fall Lawsuit in Boca Raton
Our Boca Raton fall accident attorneys at the Shiner Law Group have been fighting for victims of hazards on the premises of individuals, business, and government for over 15 years. These cases often turn on challenging factual and legal issues, as well as preconceived notions that slip and fall accidents usually do not cause serious injury. During our time representing many people injured in falls, we have recovered millions of dollars for our clients. Our success and commitment to providing a very positive client experience have allowed us to develop a reputation for exemplary legal services among former clients, judges, insurance companies, and our peers. The exemplary relationships we have built with our clients along with our highly regarded professional reputation are evidenced by our many accolades, including the following:
- Designation as a top “AV” rated firm by Martindale-Hubbell
- Highest 10.0 rating by AVVO (reviewing every attorney in the U.S.)
- Recipient of many five-start reviews from former clients on websites like AVVO, Yelp, Facebook, Google, and other websites
- Classification of “Superb” by AVVO
- Recognition by Superlawyers® and Best Lawyers® in America
Types of Boca Raton Fall Accidents
Although fall accidents are frequently referred to generically as slip and falls, there are multiple types of falls on the premises of others that can result in injury.
Trip and Fall: This type of fall can be caused by damaged flooring that is not repaired or merchandise that is left in walkways in a manner that is unsafe.
Slip and Fall: Slippery or wet floors can cause a fall because when there is no adequate warning or barrier to prevent falls.
Step and Fall: This category of fall occurs when a fall is caused by a hole in the trajectory.
A serious fall can occur at any time in almost any setting because of a multitude of hazardous conditions that might include the following:
- Uneven or wet surfaces
- Defective sidewalks or cracks in the pavement
- Cluttered floors
- Recently waxed or mopped floors
- Potholes in parking lots
- Loose floorboards
- Torn or rumpled carpeting
- Broken steps
- Missing or loose stairwell railings
- Water on the floor from rain
Understanding Florida Slip and Fall Accident Law
The law is constantly changing and evolving, which is one of many reasons that it is important to be represented by an experienced Palm Beach County slip and fall lawyer. Florida law has undergone significant changes in recent years that have increased the legal and factual challenges of proving liability in a fall case against a business like a retail store, restaurant, big box store, bar, or other business. Whether you slip because of a substance on the floor that you do not see because you are looking at merchandise on shelves or there is a clear liquid on the floor, navigating Florida slip and fall laws can be complicated.
If you fall and suffer an injury in a Florida business, the law of negligence will govern your claim. Successful establishment of a negligence claim requires a slip and fall victim to prove the following: (1) the property owner owed the fall victim a duty of care; (2) the owner breached that duty; (3) the victim experienced harm; and (4) the breach was the actual and proximate cause of harm to the plaintiff. Although these elements apply to all types of negligent claims, Florida law defines these elements more precisely in the context of slip and falls.
Proving Breach of a Duty of Care by the Property Owner:
When a person enters a property to conduct business, such as when a shopper enters a grocery store, the person is deemed an “invitee” under Florida law. Invitees are the category of visitors on the property of another who receive the highest degree of protection under the law when compared to mere social guests or trespassers. A store owner or other property owner whose business is open to the public has a legal duty to keep their business premises clear of potential hazards that could cause injury to invitees. Florida law previously permitted the owner of a business or property who failed to exercise reasonable care in maintaining the premises in a safe condition to be held liable. The legal standard became more difficult after 2013 revisions to Florida premises liability statute.
Revisions in Florida Law Present Challenges for Slip and Fall Injury Victims:
The changes in Florida Statute § 768.0755 referenced above have increased the urgency of obtaining prompt legal representation in slip and fall cases. The revised statute requires a fall victim to prove the business or owner knew of a hazard on the premises that could cause injury. While the owner can be liable without “actual” knowledge of the hazard, the fall victim has the burden of proving the owner/business had “constructive” knowledge. Actual knowledge refers to situations where the business owner or an employee has learned of a safety concern like a leak, debris, or spill in an aisle that could endanger visitors to the property. By contrast, constructive knowledge involves imputing knowledge to the owner or business, which can be based on inference from the facts and circumstances. Examples of situations where the owner might be deemed to have constructive knowledge might include a fall on a puddle from a leaky swamp cooler that has a history of leaking on the floor. If a spill has been present on the floor for a prolonged period, knowledge of the hazard might be imputed because the substance should have been discovered with reasonable maintenance and inspection procedures.
The revisions in the law place the victim of a fall in the precarious position of needing to conduct a prompt investigation that might be impossible after suffering serious injury. When customers are receiving medical attention or coping with intense pain, they are not in a good position to determine how long a puddle has been present on the floor. The owner of the premises or business is in a better position to investigate and preserve evidence regarding a fall accident. However, the owner no longer has any incentive to preserve evidence because the burden rests with the plaintiff to establish the owner should have known of the hazardous condition.
Florida slip and fall law also is complicated because the law places limitations on how inferences can be used in slip and fall cases in Florida. The judge and jury can only use inferences at the exclusion of any other reasonable possible causes of the slip and fall. Courts have ruled that evidence an employee was using a high-powered floor waxing machine did not justify an inference that floor wax caused the shopper’s fall when she slipped on a substance that she could not identify.
Because these features of Florida slip and fall law make it essential to conduct a thorough investigation, you should seek prompt legal advice. Our law firm conducts a thorough investigation of falls to prevent critical evidence supporting constructive knowledge and other issues from disappearing. Evidence relevant to factual and legal issues that we seek includes the following:
- Poor lighting in the vicinity
- Duration that the unsafe condition was present
- Accident reports and other documentation regarding the incident
- Witnesses including employees
- The configuration of a walkway where the fall occurred
- History of accidents caused by the same hazard (.e.g. a water cooler that leaks)
- Maintenance procedures and logs
- Adequacy of warnings and barriers posted near the hazard
- Flooring with inadequate slip resistance
Proving Causation and Damages in a Boca Raton Slip and Fall
While proving property owners breached their duty of care is challenging, insurance companies also focus considerable effort on disputing the nature and cause of a fall victim’s injuries. Injured customers have a lot of influence on the effectiveness of this type of strategy. Prompt medical attention can preempt claims by an insurer that a plaintiff’s injuries were caused by some subsequent accident rather than the fall. Injury victims also can help neutralize potential allegations that fall victims are exaggerating or fabricating the severity of their injuries. The best practice is to seek prompt medical care and follow through on any diagnostic imaging ordered by your doctor like X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and similar diagnostic scans. These types of strategies by insurance companies also can be discouraged by attending all doctor’s appointments and completing the full course of treatment and rehabilitation.
Complications in Slip and Fall Accidents on Residential or Government Property
While business owners that hold their property open to the public have a duty to protect the public from hazards that they know or should know exist, the situation can be more complicated at a neighbor’s home or the courthouse. The legal duty owed differs based on the nature of the property.
Commercial Property: The owner or employee of a business can be liable for falls if they create the hazard. They also can be financially responsible if they had actual knowledge of the hazard but did not take action to remedy the hazardous condition. The owner or employee also can be liable if he or she should have known of the unsafe condition on the premises based on the surrounding facts and circumstances.
Public Property: Falls that occur on government owned property raise special issues that our experienced Palm Beach County slip and fall lawyers can navigate effectively. These special challenges include what qualifies as a sub-division of government, complex rules on filing a claim, and special statutory requirements.
Residential Property: A landlord or property owner might have to compensate a tenant or other visitor when someone is injured on the property. The pursuit of liability on residential property can be pursued if the owner of the home is responsible for causing the slip and fall accident. The homeowner has a duty to repair the problem if it would not be prohibitively difficult or costly, and the owner suffered significant injury because the hazardous condition was not repaired.
Actions for a Slip and Fall Victim to Take after an Accident
If you suffer an injury in a fall, you can have a dramatic impact on the outcome of your personal injury lawsuit. If you are involved in a fall on private, public, or commercial premises, the steps taken by a fall victim will influence the outcome of a personal injury claim.
Obtaining Medical Treatment: If you are injured in a fall, your health will be your top priority. Diagnostic scanning, blood tests, and other treatment records will provide valuable evidence regarding the nature and extent of your injuries. The bills and invoices from your care will assist in quantifying your medical expenses. Completion of your entire regimen of treatment also will forestall efforts to minimize the injuries experienced by a plaintiff.
Prompt Reporting of the Accident: If you fall in a grocery store, department store, restaurant, bar, other business, or private residence, the incident needs to be reported promptly to the manager, homeowner, or other responsible party. When the fall accident occurs in a rental unit or business, the owner must prepare an accident report. The injury victim should confirm that the facts in the report are accurate and that it includes details that support the negligence of the property owner, such as inadequate lighting, a bunched up area rug, or a broken step. The fall victim should get the name of the manager and owner of the property, as well as a copy of the report.
Gather Evidence: Because the injury victim has the burden of establishing the knowledge of a commercial property or business owner, efforts to gather evidence at the scene can improve the prospect of a subsequent lawsuit. Photos of the precise location of the accident and any injuries can provide important evidence. Any factors like lighting, narrow walkways, or confusing warnings that might have contributed to a fall also should be captured in pictures.
Note Witnesses: If there are witnesses to the accident, their name, phone number, and address should be written down. The retail and food service industries tend to experience prompt job turnover, so delays in obtaining this information can result in hard to track down witnesses disappearing.
Preserve Apparel: The clothing and footwear you wore at the time of the accident should be preserved in their post-fall condition.
Contact a Slip and Fall Lawyer: If you are injured in a slip and fall accident in a shopping mall, fast food restaurant, neighbor’s home, or a university campus, you should contact an experienced lawyer promptly. Our law firm typically engages in a prompt investigation to preserve critical evidence that can be used to explain the fall and prove the property owner of a business had reason to know of the hazardous condition.
Allow Your Attorney to Speak to Insurance Companies: The defendants in a slip and fall case typically will have commercial liability insurance, homeowner’s insurance, or other coverage. While it might be tempting to speak with an insurance adjuster who contacts you, these discussions generally will not lead to the resolution of an injury claim. Adjusters and other insurance company representatives are not contacting you because they are concerned about your best interest or financial well-being. These individuals are loyal to the insurance company that pays their salary. The adjuster might seek to obtain damaging admissions or inconsistent statements that can be used to attack your credibility. Shiner Law Group trip and fall attorneys have familiarity with the tactics used by insurance companies to avoid or minimize potential payouts on insurance claims.
Our Boca Raton slip and fall injury attorneys often guide our clients through the process of seeking medical and diagnostic evaluations. We also work closely with medical experts analyze medical records regarding the causal link between the fall and resulting injuries. This process also permits us to develop a compelling case regarding the nature and severity of our client’s injuries and any long-term disability.
Speak with a Boca Raton Accident Lawyer
When litigating a slip and fall claim, the task of identifying the responsible parties can be complicated. If your fall occurred in a department store that is located in a mall or shopping center, the owner of the store, as well as the shopping center landlord might be liable for the hazardous condition that caused the accident. Other parties that played a role in causing the hazardous condition also might share financial responsibility for a fall victim’s damages.
Our Boca raton slip and fall lawyers work diligently to identify all potentially liable parties and sources of insurance. When an individual is injured after slipping or tripping, any failure to identify and join all parties whose conduct contributed to the accident could result in less than a full damage award. Because our law firm has handled many slip and fall cases since its founding fifteen (15) years ago, our attorneys can assist clients in determining the parties that might be financially responsible for fall-related injuries and ensure that all appropriate parties are joined as defendants in a civil lawsuit. Our lawyers’ extensive experience means that we might have brought claims against companies in similar industries, which can be extremely beneficial because we will be familiar with the relevant safety regulations and standard industry practices.
If you or someone you love has died because of the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another, we welcome you to contact our experienced legal team so that we can evaluate your claim and advise you of your rights and options. We are committed to helping victims recover the compensation they need to move past injuries or loss, so call us 24/7 at 561-777-7700 or online for a free case review to see how we can help. The Shiner Law Group represents fatality victims in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, and throughout the surrounding counties.