A slip, trip, or fall can take place almost anywhere. In public or private, on land or on water, in a store or out in the parking lot—slippery conditions and hazards exist everywhere. Sometimes, victims can avoid open and obvious hazards. Other times, landowners or store managers fail to keep their premises in safe conditions. If property owners violate this legal duty of care, victims can obligate them to pay compensation for any resulting injuries. The experienced slip and fall attorneys at the Dolman Law Group can help you determine and assert your legal rights after a slip, trip, or fall. They can also help guide you through the complicated legal claims process.
Slip and Fall Accidents in a Home
Florida legally obligates homeowners to maintain their properties in reasonably safe conditions. In some circumstances, this may also extend to a duty to warn guests about unsafe conditions on the premises that the homeowner is aware of, but that visitors may not readily notice. The extent of a homeowner’s legal duty of care—as well as the determination of whether the homeowner took any “reasonable” safety precautions—depends entirely on the specific facts of a slip and fall injury. A jury may decide that a homeowner unreasonably failed to warn guests about a slippery walkway. An insurance company, on the other hand, may deny liability in the same case, claiming that water or ice presented an obvious hazard and that the victim should have avoided the condition without a warning from the homeowner. Because a homeowner’s liability depends so completely on the specific facts of an injury, injury victims need a legal representative who can advocate for their claims.
Homeowners do not, however, owe the same duty of care to people who trespass on their properties. In most cases, a homeowner’s only obligation toward a trespasser is to avoid intentionally causing harm to that person. An exception to this rule is the attractive nuisance doctrine. Under this rule, a homeowner can face liability for injuries caused to child trespassers whom an attractive—but dangerous—condition lured onto the property. Pools and trampolines form common examples of attractive nuisances. The attractive nuisance doctrine only applies when a child is too young to appreciate the danger that the attractive nuisance poses. For this reason, adult trespassers rarely—if ever—receive the protection of the attractive nuisance doctrine.
When a company opens to the public for the purpose of conducting business, the law holds its owners to a higher standard of care than homeowners—because the business owner intends to profit from the presence of customers on the property. For this reason, a business owner or manager must generally take more thorough reasonable measures to make a property safe than those of a private homeowner. Often, the law will deem negligent a business owner who did not actively inspect the premises and make it safe for customers.
Section 768.0755 of the Florida Statutes imposes an additional obligation on victims who bring claims for slip and fall injuries incurred at a business establishment as a result of a transitory foreign substance on the floor. (This is a common situation when, for example, a grocery shopper slips and falls on squishy fruit in the produce section and sustains an injury.) The plaintiff must prove that the store owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it. Constructive knowledge comes when a store owner should have known about a dangerous condition. Plaintiffs may prove constructive knowledge by showing that: (1) 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 (2) the condition arose with regularity and the owner therefore should have foreseen it. Thus, store owners have a legal obligation to remedy transitory foreign substances that they know—or should have known—exist on their premises.
Slip and fall injuries are more likely to take place in some public areas. Slippery conditions often form on decks and walkways at pools and water recreation areas, for example. Management at such facilities should know and mitigate these risks. In many circumstances, these facilities face an obligation to warn patrons about the increased risk of slipping and take reasonable precautions to clear walkways. Boats, marinas, and beaches also present increased risks of slipping from water and sand. Business owners in these areas may also face an increased duty of care toward their patrons.
Slip and Fall Accidents on Government Land
Sometimes, slip and fall accidents take place on land the state of Florida owns. State agencies and subdivisions may also own land that gives rise to slip and fall injury claims. The state has waived some of its sovereign immunity under Section 768.28 of the Florida Statutes, and this allows some slip and fall claimants to recover compensation from the state. The statute requires injury victims to present their claims, in writing, to the applicable government organization. The time limits for such presentation vary by type of claim. Victims must also present some claims to the state Department of Financial Services. Consult with an experienced slip and fall attorney who can ensure that you meet all procedural requirements.
The Right Representation For Your Slip and Fall Injury Claim
Wherever your slip, trip, or fall took place, you have legal rights to aggressively defend. For more than 46 years, injury victims in the New Port Richey area have trusted the Dolman Law Group to protect their legal interests. Call (727) 853-6275 or write us online to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Our skilled personal injury attorneys have the experience necessary to achieve the best possible results in your case.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652