Top 5 Defenses Used in Slip and Fall Accidents in Florida

Slip and Fall Accidents

Serious injuries from a slip-and-fall on someone else’s property can be life-changing. Unfortunately, recovering fair compensation in Florida can be a challenging battle. Property owners and their insurance companies often try to minimize payouts after slip-and-fall accidents. While you’re focused on healing, they might be searching for reasons to deny or reduce your claim.

The aftermath of a slip and fall injury can be overwhelming.  One of the biggest issues to financial recovery is proving the property owner’s negligence. This means establishing they failed to maintain a safe environment, which directly led to your accident.

After suffering an injury from a slip and fall, you will immediately see how difficult it is for property owners and their insurance companies to compensate you fairly for your injuries. In these situations, having the help of a Slip & Fall / Premises Liability Lawyer like the ones we have here at Louis Berk Law Firm can help you in overcoming these situations that can be frustrating, and we understand it. 

One of the main roadblocks to financial recovery after a slip-and-fall accident in Florida is getting the owner to admit fault. Even in a Wrongful Death case, admitting liability is difficult, so in this blog post, we will cover the top five common defenses these at-fault parties tend to use to avoid liability. An experienced slip-and-fall attorney can help you get past these defenses and help you on the path to recovery. Let’s take a look:

“It was your fault”

Facing a slip-and-fall injury is tough enough. But what happens when the property owner tries to blame you? This is a common tactic used by property owners and their insurance companies to minimize their liability. Here’s how they might try to shift the blame:

  • Improper Footwear: They might claim you weren’t wearing shoes with enough tread, implying you caused the fall.
  • Reckless Behavior: They might allege you were acting carelessly or distracted, like being on your phone, and therefore responsible for the accident.
  • Ignoring Warnings: They might argue you ignored posted warning signs, absolving them of any fault.

Florida operates under a legal principle called “comparative negligence.” This means if the court finds you share some blame for the accident, it can reduce your compensation by that percentage.

For example, You slip and fall at a store due to a wet floor that wasn’t properly marked. However,  if the court also finds you were texting and not paying attention, they can determine you were at fault, and your total compensation could be reduced.

The best way to counter these tactics is to avoid making any statements about the accident until you speak with a slip and fall/premises lawyer. An attorney can help you navigate these situations and build a strong case that proves the property owner’s negligence.

They were Unaware of the Hazards that Led them to the Accident

Beyond placing blame on you, property owners often try to claim they were unaware of the hazard.  However, you must know that property owners have a legal responsibility to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. This involves regular inspections and promptly addressing potential hazards.

Even if the owner wasn’t directly aware of the specific danger, they can still be held liable under “constructive notice.” This means the hazard existed for a long enough time that the owner should have discovered and rectified it through reasonable inspections.

To overcome this situation, you need to demonstrate that the hazard existed and caused your fall and that it was there long enough for the property owner to know about it.

The Property Owner took Safety Measures 

To recover from a property owner or insurance company after a slip and fall, you must prove that your injuries were caused by the property owner’s negligence. However, if the premises owner can demonstrate that they took reasonable safety measures, they can be excused from liability. 

To overcome this situation, your premises liability lawyer can help you demonstrate that the owner’s safety measures were not enough and that they did not reasonably maintain their property. By safety reasonable measures, we include regular inspections, adequate lightning, a non-slipping floor, adequate warning signs, and overall proper maintenance of the place. 

It was an open and obvious danger 

Property owners in Florida might use the “open and obvious danger doctrine” to avoid liability. This means that if the hazard causing your slip-and-fall or potential death accident was clearly visible and easily avoidable by a reasonable person, the owner might argue that they’re not responsible for your injuries.

Imagine a bright banana peel on a dry sidewalk. Most people would see it and avoid it. In such a case, the open and obvious doctrine could shield the property owner. However, there are exceptions. 

Even if a Hazard is noticeable, it might be so dangerous that the owner should still be held liable. On the other hand, if the property owner knew about the hazard but failed to take action (like fixing it or putting up a warning sign), they might still be liable. These actions can also lead to a potential death, and the at-fault party can be held liable for their carefree attitude. If the situation ends in this case, an Orlando Wrongful Death Attorney can help you in taking legal action against the owner of the property.

You were late filing the lawsuit

In Florida, you generally have two years from the date of your slip and fall injury to file a lawsuit. This is called the statute of limitations, and missing this deadline can significantly harm your case. If you don’t file within two years, the property owner may be legally excused from any responsibility for your injuries.

The Bottom Line: Consult an Attorney First

The laws surrounding slip and fall claims and the statute of limitations can be complex. Don’t risk missing your deadline.  An experienced attorney can advise you on the specifics of your situation and ensure your claim is filed within the appropriate timeframe.

Insurance companies are in the business of minimizing payouts.  After a slip and fall, you might be offered a lowball settlement that fails to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. When you hire a slip-and-fall accident attorney, you have better chances of winning fair compensation for your wounds.

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