Every year, thousands of Americans sustain injuries in slip and fall accidents. While some people may write falls off as minor events, one in five falls results in serious injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These injuries range from broken bones and lacerations to life-threatening brain or spinal injuries.
In Florida, falls are a serious and prevalent issue, particularly for retired and elderly Floridians. If a slip in fall accident results in injury, contact the personal injury attorney at Meldon Law to learn more about your rights to compensation.
Understanding Premises Liability—Who’s Responsible
Slip and fall laws address accidents through a set of legal principles known as “premises liability.” Premises liability principles require property owners and occupants to exercise reasonable care to prevent visitors from getting hurt because of an unsafe condition on the property. In other words, if you get hurt on another person’s property, the property owner or occupant may have a legal liability to you for damages.
Not all visitors to property have the same rights, however, because not all visitors to a property are there for the same reason, and not all properties have the same features. Instead, legal liability depends on who and how someone gets injured on someone else’s property.
Florida law separates visitors to other people’s property into three general categories, each with different rights to be kept safe by the property’s owner:
- Invitees: Property owners owe invitees the highest level of care. These are guests who receive direct or implied permission to be on the property for the benefit of the property owner, such as a customer at a store. Under Florida law, a property owner must ensure that the premises are safe and free of hazards. If a property owner is unable to remove all hazards they shall warn invitees of any dangerous areas.
- Licensees: Property owners owe a slightly lower duty of care to licensees, who are people on a property to conduct professional business or for their own benefit. This typically includes vendors, contractors, and hunters and fishermen. Confusingly, it also includes people a property owner “invites” to a social gathering in most (but not all) cases. The property owner must notify licensees of any known hazards but does not have to take steps to remove hazards.
- Trespassers: A trespasser is a person who has neither express nor implied permission to visit a property. Under most circumstances, a property owner has no legal liability if someone gets hurt while trespassing on their property. However, if the property owner discovers the trespasser, they shall not cause intentional harm and shall warn the trespasser of any known dangers. The owner has no such duty if the trespasser is on the property with the intent to commit a felony. The law also treats child-trespassers differently. Under a doctrine known as “attractive nuisance,” if a potentially dangerous feature of a property can be reasonably expected to attract children (such as a filled or empty swimming pool), the property owner must take reasonable measures to keep them out and/or keep them safe.
Where Do Slip and Fall Injuries Occur?
A fall can happen anywhere. Often, these falls occur because of someone else’s negligence. If you are hurt while visiting someone’s home or business, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you seek the compensation you deserve. Common sites of slip and fall accidents include:
- Inside retailers: Grocery stores and retail establishments have a responsibility to their customers, who the law treats as “invitees” owed the highest duty of care. Falls at stores often occur because of liquid spills, unstable flooring, or poor lighting.
- Restaurants: Restaurant patrons are also “invitees.” Most falls at restaurants happen because of a spill or wet floors. Restaurant owners have a duty to mop up any spills and display wet floor signs to warn patrons.
- Sports or concert venues: Large stadiums carry a high risk of fall injuries. The steep stairs and crowded conditions can cause someone to lose their footing.
- At a private residence: It’s confusing, but people you invite over to your house are usually treated as “licensees” who are owed a slightly-lower duty of care. Hazards for which homeowners have a duty to protect visitors from can include loose railings or unsecured carpeting.
Common Injuries After a Slip and Fall Accident
Falls are the primary cause of approximately one-third of all non-fatal injuries in the United States, according to the National Safety Council. While some falls only result in minor injuries, others can be fatal. Young children and older adults are most at risk of suffering a major fall injury. Common injuries include:
- Broken bones;
- Spinal cord injury;
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Lacerations, contusions, and abrasions; and
- Severe sprains and other soft tissue damage.
Of course, these are just the most common fall injuries. A fall can cause any sort of trauma. If you have sustained any kind of injury in a fall on someone else’s property, consult with an experienced Ocala slip and fall attorney right away.
Your Legal Rights After a Fall
After a slip and fall injury, you may have the right to take legal action to seek compensation. Falls can cause serious injuries that lead to long-term pain and financial consequences. The type of damages you may have the right to recover will depend on the circumstances of your case. Some of the most common damages sought in cases involving fall injuries include:
- Medical bills including doctor visits, medications, surgeries, and rehabilitative services.
- Lost wages for missed time at work. In some cases, you may also have the right to recover future wages or damages for lost earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering, including loss of life enjoyment, loss of consortium, and actual physical and emotional pain.
- Wrongful death to cover funeral and burial expenses as well as lost wages and medical expenses.
Injured in an Ocala Slip and Fall Accident? Contact Meldon Law
At Meldon Law, we take all slip-and-fall injuries seriously. If a fall on someone else’s property in the Ocala area has disrupted your life, the legal team at Meldon Law is here to help. Visit us online to request a free consultation or contact our offices at (800) 373-8000 in Ocala or at (352) 373-8000 in Gainesville.