Slip and Fall Accidents by the Numbers
Hospitalizations from Fall Accidents in the U.S. (2018)
Avg. Cost of Hospitalization for Fall Accident (2018)
Medical Costs for Seniors from Fall Injuries (2015)
Source: CDC Older Adult Safety
A Serious and Dangerous Problem
It might seem innocuous at first—slipping and falling—but slip and fall accidents are very serious and costly. Whether it’s a wet floor, a loose stair, or a broken handrail, thousands of Floridians are hurt every year because they slip on a substance or trip over an object that should not have been there in the first place.
According to CDC data, 8.1 million Americans were injured in fall accidents in 2018, making slip and falls the leading cause of unintended injury. In fact, 1.26 million people had to be hospitalized because of injuries they sustained in falls.
On top of this, the average cost of a hospitalization to treat a fall injury is nearly $40,000. Add to that the amount of lost work costs, which the CDC estimates at $56,000 (for 2010), and a slip and fall accident could nearly cost you around $100,000!
The sheer number of injuries caused by slip and fall accidents plus the cost of medical treatments associated with those injuries mean that slip and fall accidents are in no way trivial. Proving negligence on the part of the business or property owner and recovering damages for your slip and fall injuries can be difficult, so seeking help from a qualified Boca Raton slip and fall lawyer, who knows the relevant Florida premises liability laws, is critical.
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Florida’s Premises Liability Laws
In Florida, property owners and businesses are legally required to keep their property safe for visitors, customers, and guests. When property owners fail to do so, a court can hold them liable for any injuries caused by their negligence.
Florida’s premises liability law (F.S. §768.0755) specifically allows people who have been injured from slipping, tripping, or falling at a place of business or residence to sue for damages. However, Florida law also places the burden on the injured party to prove the negligence of the property owner or business.
Actually Know or Should Have Known
The statute requires that a person who slips and falls on a “transitory foreign substance” must prove that the business had:
- Actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition, and
- Should have done something to fix it.
Circumstantial evidence can be used to prove constructive knowledge, and to do that, you or your attorney can show that:
- The dangerous condition existed for long enough that the business would’ve known of the condition had it been exercising ordinary care, or
- The dangerous condition occurred regularly and was foreseeable.
The fact is that it is unlikely that businesses will fail to fix a hazardous situation about which they have actual knowledge. This means that most slip and fall cases rely on proving constructive knowledge—i.e. the business or owner should have known about the dangerous condition.
For example, during the rainy season in Florida it would be appropriate for businesses to use floormats, regular site checks, and other means to prevent or fix hazardous conditions caused by wet floors. Failing to address this situation could be considered negligent since, one could argue, it was a foreseeable situation: If it’s raining and customers are coming in and out of a business, water will accumulate near the doors.
7 Key Steps After a Slip and Fall
As the terminology in the statute suggests, most slip and fall cases are caused by “transitory” substances, meaning the condition can often be cleaned up, repaired, or replaced quite easily after an accident occurs. In fact, insinuating no malice on the part of the businesses and property owners, you would expect them to take immediate steps after someone had been injured on the premises to remedy the issue so that no other patrons are injured.
Unfortunately, proving the existence of the dangerous condition is critical to a successful case. So, if you’ve slipped and fallen at a business, office building, grocery store, or bulk supply store, here are a few things you can do to help your slip and fall lawyer build the strongest possible case on your behalf:
- Call 911. If you have been seriously injured in your slip and fall (and often even if you aren’t), call emergency services immediately. This will ensure both that you receive prompt medical treatment for your injuries and that the injury scene is properly documented by the police.
- Document the Scene. Take pictures of the area where you fell (floor, stairs, curb, etc.). Be sure you include any substances that caused you to slip—remember, they will be cleaned up once you leave.
- Document Your Outfit. Take pictures of your clothes and shoes, including the soles of your shoes. Put these items aside and do not wash them.
- Document Your Receipt. Take a picture of your receipt to prove that you were at the business in question and that you were patronizing the business (i.e. were there for legitimate purposes).
- Inform the Owner. Let the business or property owner know about the accident. Ask them to write up an accident report and request a copy. Do not give a statement for the accident report unless a copy of the report will be given to you.
- Gather Witness Names. If possible, get the names and contact information of anyone who saw your accident. These eyewitness accounts could be valuable later to proving your version of events.
- Seek Medical Attention. If you weren’t seriously injured and didn’t call 911 you’re your injuries, you should always seek medical care after a slip and fall accident. Slip and falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries according to the CDC, which may not manifest immediately.
Finally, the last step is to seek out the help of a trusted and qualified legal representative to handle your slip and fall case. You have been injured and should be focusing on recovery.
Where Slips Happen and What Causes Them
Slips, trips, and falls can happen in all kinds of places. There are some areas where slip and fall accidents are more common, including:
- “Big Box” or Bulk Retail Stores
- Grocery Stores
- Convenience Stores
- Office Parks
- Theme Park
- Sports Arenas
- Apartment Complexes
- City and Government Property
Types of Injuries
We find that people often don’t take slip and fall accidents as seriously as they should because many falls do not cause injuries. But one out of five falls does cause a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury. These injuries can drastically reduce a person’s movements and hamper their quality of life.
- Falls often lead to broken wrists or arms, sprained or broken ankles, or fractured pelvises and hips. The angle of the fall and our reflexive movements to stop our fall tend to make these injuries more likely.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Brain trauma is very serious and can cause long-term damage such as chronic headaches, depression, behavioral changes, and seizures.
- Especially for the elderly, slip and fall victims, even if they’re not seriously injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities. When a person is less active, they become weaker and this increases their chances of falling.
Worse When You’re Older
Despite where the slip and fall accident occurs or whether water, gravel, or a loose handrail caused it, not all age groups are affected by slip and fall accidents equally. Slip and fall accidents disproportionately affect Florida’s elderly population both in number and severity of injury. For people over the age of 60:
- Over $3.9 billion was spent on medical costs (in Florida alone) related to fall injuries.
- Over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling.
- U.S. families spent $754 million on fall-related deaths.
Most telling is that the fall fatality rate for Floridians aged 60+ is nearly 14 times higher than it is for those under 60.
Recoverable Damages from a Slip and Fall Accident
When a Florida resident is injured in a slip and fall or trip and fall accident, they can bring a premises liability claim against the property owner to recover damages. These damages include:
- Medical Costs
- Physical Therapy Costs
- Pain and Suffering
- Lost Wages
- Emotional Distress
No matter the severity of your injuries, if they were caused by a property owner’s negligence, the property owner should be held responsible. Why should you have to pay to recover from injuries you sustained in an accident that you had no part in causing?
This is exactly where the business or property owner—or more likely, their insurance company—will try to turn the tables on you. Because Florida is a “comparative fault” state, both parties in an accident essentially share fault at first, and then the plaintiff (the injured party) tries to prove the defendant bears greater liability. The defense will try to shift as much liability onto you as possible, and for every ounce of liability they put onto you, the property owner is an ounce of liability lighter. Importantly, the liability assignments directly determine the amount of damages you can recover.
For this reason, it’s absolutely critical that you contact a qualified slip and fall accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case and develop a plan of action.
Why You Should Hire a Slip and Fall Lawyer
If you are here, chances are that you or someone you know has been injured in a slip and fall accident. We are truly sorry that you are going through this, and we sincerely hope that you recover from your injuries and that you can return to your normal life as soon as possible.
We also want to help you make smart decisions about your case so you can choose the right slip and fall lawyer and get on the path to full recovery—both physically and financially. The effects of a slip and fall accident can be devastating—especially for older Boca Raton residents—and without a dedicated personal injury lawyer on their side, victims often don’t recover the full amount of damages to which they are entitled. When thinking about hiring a lawyer for your slip and fall accident, keep a few points in mind.
Insurance companies see it as their job to avoid paying you
They have teams of highly trained adjusters and lawyers—and very deep pockets—all focused on keeping your claim as small as possible. You need someone in your corner, who also has experience and training, to take on the insurance company.
The insurance company’s bag of tricks is ineffective on a legal expert
By hiring a personal injury attorney, you force the insurance company to deal with an experienced legal professional who won’t be coerced or fooled into taking a low-ball offer. You will significantly increase your chances of recovering just compensation and of achieving a favorable resolution to your case.
Your peace of mind is critical for recovery
You or someone you love has been injured and worrying about filing deadlines and insurance claims is only going to make your physical recovery take longer. Having a personal injury attorney represent you means that you aren’t filing motions, taking statements, or conducting depositions. You can focus on recovering from your injuries.
If you have suffered a slip and fall injury in a Florida business, grocery store, theme park, or elsewhere, you need to seek out an experienced Florida accident and injury attorney who will guide you through the claims process. The insurance company will have attorneys and insurance adjusters on their side to protect their interests—so should you.
The personal injury lawyers here at Personal Injury & Accident Law Center would love to speak to you about your case and tell you how we can help you get on the path to recovery. Call us today at (561)372-3800 to schedule a free case evaluation or fill out the confidential form below and a team member will contact you soon.