Most people assume slip and fall accidents and trip and fall accidents are the same thing. However, there is actually quite a large distinction between the two and these differences matter when legally pursuing compensation for injuries related to a fall.
Slip and fall accidents are caused by slippery surfaces such as water or other liquids. Other substances that may cause a slip and fall accident are treated flooring surfaces, ice, or algae and moss.
Most times, when a person slips, their feet go out from under their body, causing them to fall backwards. As such, common slip and fall injuries include Traumatic Brain Injury (from hitting the back of the head), low back injuries, hip fractures, and arm fractures.
On the other hand, trip and fall accidents are caused by uneven surfaces or when something is in a pathway. Tripping incidents usually cause an individual to fall forward and commonly result in neck injuries, wrist fractures, and leg fractures.
Slip/trip and fall accidents are some of the most common causes of injury in the United States. The following facts, provided the National Floor Safety Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention help corroborate this finding:
When thinking of slip/trip and fall accidents, many people automatically assume that they result in mostly minor injuries. However, while slip/trip and fall victims don't fall from a great distance, the resulting injuries are often significant. Many times, slip/trip and fall accidents cause severe and permanent injuries that are both painful and costly. The following is a list of the most common slip/trip and fall injuries:
Lakewood Ranch Trip & Fall
SARASOTA SLIP & FALL
LAKEWOOD RANCH TRIP & FALL
BRADENTON SLIP & FALL
BRADENTON TRIP & FALL
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Property owners, or those who control or maintain a property owe a duty of care to various types of visitors to their property. In Florida these visitors are divided into three categories: invitees, licensees, and trespassers and each category of visitor is owed a different standard of care by landowners pursuant to Florida law.
Most fall cases occur when an individual is walking in a store or other place of business (as an "invitee") and unknowingly steps on a substance that causes them to fall. This is what many people envision when they think of a "slip and fall" incident. Many people are also under the impression that the fact that they fell in a store or place of business due to the presence of this substance automatically makes the business or property owner liable. This, however, is not the case in Florida.
According to Florida Statute 768.0755, "If a person slips and falls on a transitory (not permanent) foreign substance in a business establishment, the injured person must prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it."
"Actual knowledge" of a dangerous condition is pretty self explanatory and easy to determine. "Constructive knowledge", however, is a bit more complicated. According to the statute, "constructive knowledge...may be proven by circumstantial evidence showing that (a) 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 (b) the condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable."
So, how do you get this "circumstantial evidence" referred to in the statute?
Florida currently recognizes a system of liability that includes "comparative negligence." This means that the amount a claimant can recover in an action is reduced proportionately by the amount they contributed to their injury or harm.
This is important to know, because comparative negligence is routinely utilized by insurance companies and defense lawyers in Florida to minimize the value of a claim brought by an individual injured from a fall. As such, comparative negligence factors in to almost every single fall case. The most common use of comparative negligence as a defense is to claim that an injured party "should have been watching where they were walking." Other ways comparative negligence is used in fall cases is to assert that the claimant was in an area of a business establishment they were not allowed to be in, or that the dangerous condition was obvious and should have been avoided.
However, an experienced Lakewood Ranch personal injury lawyer will immediately take action to either minimize, or eliminate, any comparative negligence defense.
Many times preserving the accident scene will effectively combat the use of a comparative negligence defense. Other times, obtaining witness statements or video surveillance of the fall will establish liability. And in some more complicated fall cases, an expert is hired to prove code violations or irregularities in a flooring surface.
Since most people are unfamiliar with Florida's system of liability and how it may be used against them when they're injured, it's very important that they contact an experienced Lakewood Ranch personal injury lawyer following a slip/trip and fall accident.
Following a slip/trip and fall accidents, there are a few important steps you should take to ensure your legal rights are protected:
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