Each year, large numbers of people, many of them elderly, are seriously injured or even killed due to a “slip and fall” accident. The Florida Department of Health reports that accidental falls are a major source of injury, permanent disability and even death for Florida residents, mostly to people over the age of 65. Approximately 53,000 residents required medical treatment or a hospital stay after an unintentional fall in 2007, and about 1,700 died as a result of their injuries.
An injury caused by a slip or trip and fall usually occurs on someone else’s property, which brings into question the property owner’s liability for the accident. The owner, or the person or company responsible for maintaining the property in proper condition so as not to cause an accidental fall, may be held legally responsible. This area of case law is referred to as “premises liability”, and many factors need to be researched and investigated to determine if there is any fault on the owner of the property.
There are several reasons that contribute to a slip and fall injury. Some may be caused by unsafe and dangerous surfaces, such as worn, bulging or ripped carpeting, uneven levels of flooring, wet floors or uneven or narrow stairwells. Sometimes the dangers are not visible to the person using the premises, such as improperly secured floorboards or wooden walkways, unsecured handrails and loose carpeting. Other injuries occur due to cracked sidewalks or parking lot pavement, an escalator that may not be functioning properly or even inadequate lighting in or near a building.
In order to determine fault in slip and fall injury cases, Florida personal injury lawyers are diligent and thorough in considering all of the mitigating circumstances in every situation. Often times, the accident is simply that – an accident, caused by the carelessness of the injured individual. The motor skills, vision and general health of the injured person are all factors to be considered, particularly with the large number of older residents in Florida. Other times, however, a lawyer who is familiar with the intricacies of slip and fall accidents can carefully examine the exact circumstances involved in the accident, and determine that it was the result of negligence on the part of the property owner.
A successful recovery for a slip and fall injury case must clearly indicate that the property owner created the unsafe condition leading to the accident, and that he or she knew the condition existed and failed to correct it. If a person is in a public place, they are entitled to being advised of any potentially dangerous or unsafe conditions that may exist. Should that person choose to proceed with full knowledge of the hazard, that person assumes at least a partial risk and liability for an accident. Other injuries occur when a property owner has attempted to rectify a hazardous situation, but the efforts were not adequate to properly solve the problem.
The Smallest Detail…
A personal injury lawyer who is properly trained to investigate slip and fall injury cases knows that even the most seemingly insignificant detail must be thoroughly examined to help determine liability. A tile or other hard surface floor can appear to be dry and safe to the naked eye, but perhaps there is an invisible residue of cleaning or sealing solution that renders the surface unsafe. The improper use and application of floor care products like waxes, cleaners, and sealants, and the implements used to apply them, can all result in a slippery and hazardous floor surface. In fact, the National Safety Council has determined that many slip and fall accidents occur because of incorrect application of certain oil-based cleaning products, and by the residue build up remaining on the floor surface after it has dried. Even though the floor may appear to be dry and safe for foot traffic, these hidden dangers can lead to a serious slip and fall injury.
“We have all seen the “caution – wet floor” signs in restaurants, malls and other commercial establishments”, says Attorney P.J. Scheiner, of the Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner Personal Injury Law firm. “But there are countless other factors that may lead to someone suffering a serious injury or even death caused by slipping and falling.” The Scheiner firm has been fighting for the legal rights of accident victims for nearly four decades, and utilizes an array of expert authorities to investigate things like uneven surfaces, proper lighting, construction codes and building practices, all of which can play a major role in determining exactly who is at fault in a slip and fall case. Call 1-800-DIAL-BLS to learn how our expertise and focus on justice can help if you or a loved one has suffered a slip and fall injury.