Trip and Fall Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale
Each year, falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits . Trips and falls can often lead to serious injuries that can disrupt victims’ lives. If you recently suffered an injury in a trip and fall accident in Fort Lauderdale, a trip and fall lawyer may be able to help you get compensation.
Common Trip and Fall Causes
Trip and fall injuries can occur on any property. From privately owned homes to shops and restaurants or even your place of work, dangerous conditions can exist in any space. There are many common trip and fall hazards, including:
- Uneven walking surfaces
- Loose flooring such as area rugs
- Unmarked obstacles
- Poorly lit steps or walkways
- Wet or slippery surfaces
- Improperly maintained property (potholes or broken sidewalks)
- Steps or stairs without handrails
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, floors and flooring materials contribute to more than 2 million injuries each year . Regardless of how the accident occurs, it is important to know your rights if you are injured on another’s property due to unsafe conditions. The Fort Lauderdale trip and fall lawyers at Schlacter Law will be able to evaluate if your accident injury was caused by negligence.
Trip and Fall Injuries
While many trips can result in a normal bump or bruise, it is important to acknowledge that serious injuries can also result from a fall. Depending on where the accident occured, the conditions involved, and even the prior health and wellbeing of the victim, trip and fall injuries can be severe or even deadly. For example, according to the CDC in 2005, over 15,000 people over the age of 65 died as a result of a fall . While death from a trip and fall accident is severe, there are many other types of injuries typical to a trip and fall accident including:
- Cuts and bruises
- Sprained ankles and wrists
- Broken bones
- Shoulder dislocations or muscle strains
- Knee damage
- Spine and nerve damage
- Traumatic brain injury
If you were injured in a trip and fall accident in Fort Lauderdale, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Not only will this ensure your injuries are properly attended to, but it will establish formal documentation of the incident. Medical bills for a trip and fall injury can rack up quickly, and a trip and fall attorney will use your medical records to begin building a case for compensation.
When is the Property Owner Liable?
Florida has very strict premise liability laws, designed to protect property owners from frivolous personal injury lawsuits and property insurance claims. A Fort Lauderdale property owner is only liable if the injured party was an invitee or a licensee. An “invitation” means that the visitor entering the premises had a reasonable belief that they had been invited or was otherwise welcome to the portion of the property where the injury occurred . The invitation can be either explicit or implied. Invitees can include invited guests, customers at a store, or contractors working on a property. A licensee, by contrast, is not on the premises by invitation, but is also not forbidden by the landowner. In a business setting, this might be a person who enters a grocery store to use the restroom, but not to buy groceries. A licensee could also be a door-to-door salesman to private homes, such as a cookie sales person. Landowners have a duty to protect both invitees and invited licensees from foreseeable hazards on their property by providing reasonable care for the safety of premise conditions.
A trespasser is a person present on another’s property without invitation or permission, and is not considered a legitimate visitor. As such, the property owner has no duty to protect them from foreseeable trip and fall hazards. For example, a burglar who breaks into your home and trips on a toy is not owed a duty of care.
Proving Negligence in a Fort Lauderdale Trip and Fall Case
To recap, a property owner has a duty to invitees and licensees to maintain their property in a way that is reasonably safe and free of hazards. If a property owner or manager is aware of any unsafe conditions, or should have known about a potentially dangerous situation, they must take immediate action to correct it or bring it to the attention of any visitor that might injure themselves. For example, if a tripping hazard cannot be removed immediately, a manager could rope off the area or place prominent signage to alert others to the danger. If a Fort Lauderdale property manager fails to eradicate the dangerous condition or to take these proper precautions, they may be held liable if a trip and fall injury occurs.
Negligence, by definition, is the failure to take proper care in doing something. To prove negligence, a trip and fall attorney must successfully demonstrate the four elements of negligence:
- Duty of care–the property owner or manager had a duty to provide the visitor with reasonably safe premise conditions free of dangers that could cause harm
- Breach of duty–existent conditions failed to provide that expected level of safety by allowing a potentially hazardous condition to exist
- Causation–the hazardous condition was the cause of a trip and fall and, subsequently, the cause of injuries
- Damages–the trip and fall victim sustained measurable damages (medical bills, lost wages, etc.) as a result of injuries
The biggest challenge in proving negligence in a trip and fall in a Fort Lauderdale case is demonstrating that the property owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it. According to Florida Statute 768.0755, liability can be proven circumstantially by showing that:
- The dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have known of the condition, or
- The condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable 
Trip and Fall Lawsuit Process
In Fort Lauderdale, many homeowners and business property owners maintain property insurance to protect against trip and fall claims caused by negligence on their property. Therefore, when claiming for damages resulting from a trip and fall injury, you will likely be dealing with the property owner’s insurance company.
Like many personal injury claims, once the claim is reported to the insurer, the company assigns an insurance adjuster to the case. During the investigation phase, the insurance adjuster will contact both the property owner and the injured party for statements, and will attempt to reconcile the two stories. The insurance adjuster will also gather other trip and fall case information such as an official injury report (if applicable), records and costs of medical treatment, and documentation of any other damages suffered.
It is important to remember that an insurance adjuster is not an impartial party. Their job is to protect the property owner, and to find any inconsistencies or areas of fault in the injured persons’ story. You should always consult a Fort Lauderdale trip and fall injury lawyer before giving a statement to an insurance adjuster. Having a professional lawyer can help you protect yourself from the insurance company’s tricky tactics and can ultimately give you the best chance for successful negotiations.
In the event the property owner does not have property insurance or negotiations between the injured party and the insurer are unsuccessful, a lawsuit can be filed against any or all responsible parties in the trip and fall case.
In Florida, a victim of a trip and fall accident only has four years to file a compensation lawsuit in court for negligence, called the statute of limitations. Many victims may feel ashamed about the cause of their injuries and can be reluctant about filing a suit for compensation. If a trip and fall victim fails to file their case within this four-year window, regardless of the gross negligence or the severity of injuries involved, a suit might be barred from proceeding and no compensation would be available. The trip and fall attorneys at Schlacter Law are well-versed in trip and fall law, and offer a FREE consultation for prospective clients. As the compensation process can be quite involved and require extensive research and negotiations, it is vital to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident.
- https://nfsi.org/nfsi-research/quick-facts/ ↩
- https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/pdfs/SeniorHazardsSketch2013.pdf ↩
- https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5709a1.htm ↩
- https://www.enjuris.com/florida/premises-liability/#:~:text=People%20on%20someone%20else’s%20property,must%20not%20be%20harmed%20intentionally ↩
- http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0768/Sections/0768.0755.html ↩
How We Handle Cases
- Your attorney will aggressively investigate your case. Schlacter Law will compile all necessary evidence needed to maximize the value of your case. Which includes but is not limited to photographs, police reports, security camera footage, witness statements, medical bills and medical records.
- You will remain in constant contact with Schlacter Law about the progression of your case.
- Your attorney will present your case to the insurance company and will attempt to resolve your case before the case goes to court for maximum compensation.
- Your attorney will make every effort possible to resolve the case as quickly as possible for the most amount of money you may be entitled to. You will be actively involved in the negotiation process with your attorney. Schlacter Law understands that this is your one opportunity to get justice for your loss.
- If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, Schlacter Law will be fully prepared to bring your case to court to fight for the justice you deserve.
- At no cost to you, Schlacter Law will hire any experts and professionals needed to maximize your recovery and present your case in the strongest form possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Florida is a comparative negligence state, meaning that if the plaintiff is partially at fault for the trip and fall accident in which they suffered harm, that person’s recovery of damages will be proportionately reduced. For example, if a Fort Lauderdale jury found that you were 80% at fault for the accident, you would still be entitled to recover 20% of your damages from the other party.
In a trip and fall case, there are several different ways you can be found at fault for your own injury. Examples include:
- You were not paying attention to your surroundings or were otherwise distracted. For example you were texting or on your phone
- You were in an area where you clearly shouldn’t have been, such as when a retail customer enters a door labeled “employees only” or when you go behind a cordoned off area
- The hazard was “open and obvious” to any person using reasonable caution
- You were wearing inappropriate footwear for the conditions or situation
At Schlacter Law, the trip and fall team understands that such “comparative negligence” defenses are one way business and property owners try to diminish their own liability when a dangerous condition results in a serious accident. We combine our industry-leading legal expertise with knowledge gained from dealing with trip and fall cases to fight back against property owners. We understand that the negligence of the property owner is almost always the overriding cause of a trip and fall accident, not the actions of the victim. We will work hard to protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.
In a Fort Lauderdale trip and fall case, compensation can vary widely depending on the severity of the injuries sustained, impact on the victims life, and the specific property or business establishment where the accident occured. In general, the potential for compensation can be divided into three categories of damages:
- Past and future medical treatment for your injuries
- Past and future lost wages (if any) that resulted from your accident
- Pain and suffering
Your past medical treatments must be documented through billing statements to establish a firm base of compensation. Future medical expenses for expected surgeries or ongoing rehabilitation costs can be determined through a medical professional’s opinion and other expert testimonials. An experienced trip and fall attorney will be able to gather the necessary documentation and personnel needed to substantiate your medical expense costs.
According to the Industrial Safety & Occupational Health Markets, 85% of worker’s compensation claims are attributed to employees slipping on slick floors. However, you do not need to trip at your place of work in order to receive compensation for lost wages. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 22% of trip and fall incidents resulted in more than 31 days away from work . While you are taking time to focus on your injury recovery, a trip and fall lawyer can work to ensure you are compensated for your time away from work.
In addition to the direct monetary costs of your trip and fall injuries, a physical injury can also cause severe pain and mental suffering. For example, half of all older adults (over the age of 65) hospitalized for hip fractures after a fall cannot return home or live independently after the fracture . Loss of independence can drastically affect one’s quality of life and cause severe emotional distress. While compensation cannot eliminate pain and suffering, it can help to provide better opportunities for a comfortable recovery and future.
The larger a business is, the more likely they are to have trip and fall liability coverage. However, a property owner’s insurance company or attorney will still try to pay you as little as possible for your trip and fall injuries. Hiring a reputable Fort Lauderdale trip and fall lawyer can help you negotiate the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries.
While you can try to navigate a trip and fall case on your own, an experienced trip and fall attorney can give you the expertise and confidence to successfully win compensation for your case. When negotiating with an insurance company or the property owner’s attorney, it is important to be wary of what you say. The insurance company will try to use their own evidence in determining a narrative of the fall, and can even use your own words against you. Without the assistance of a lawyer during proceedings, you may be at the mercy of the better negotiator. A trip and fall attorney knows how to handle property owners, and will work in your best interest during settlement proceedings.
The Schlacter Law team in Fort Lauderdale takes an individualized approach to trip and fall law, and works closely with victims to learn everything about the case. We understand that each accident case is unique, and we take the time and care to listen to your story and gather all pertinent evidence to bring the best case possible to the negotiation table. If a negotiation settlement is not possible, we are prepared to bring our extensive courtroom experience to the bench, ensuring that all avenues of justice are explored to get you the maximum compensation for your trip and fall injury case.