When a simple visit to the grocery store ends in an ambulance transporting you to Tampa General Hospital for slip and fall injuries, seek help from the Tampa slip and fall attorneys at Fiol Law Group. Slip and fall accidents are the most common causes of premises liability claims. They can happen in the workplace, in a shopping mall, or in a parking lot.
Slick surfaces, obstacles in the walkway, poor lighting, and other environmental hazards can all cause serious slip and falls. In many cases, the property owner will be liable for slip and fall injuries that arise from a premises defect. Talk to our team today to learn your legal opportunities.
Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
The reasons for slip and fall accidents may vary, but there are some common scenarios that can lead to them. These include:
- Wet floors – caused by cleaning agents after mopping, spilled liquids, broken jars, leaking freezers, produce misters, outdoor sprinkler systems or rainy conditions outside
- Trip hazards – cluttered walkways, inventory that hasn’t been put away, entryway floor mats, unsecured electrical cords and unstable or ill-conceived displays can all make pathways nearly impassable and greatly increase the likelihood of trips and falls
- Poor lighting – having poorly lit parking lots, stairwells and entrances/exits can make it more likely that people can slip or trip; the hazards are magnified outside at night and at dusk and dawn, when natural light is in short supply
- Unstable surfaces – potholes in parking lots, unmarked steps or slopes and unmarked switches in flooring material can make for difficult walking and a loss of traction, particularly if a customer is focused on his or her shopping
Types of Slip and Fall Injuries
Slip and fall accidents may cause scrapes and bruises, but they can also lead to much more catastrophic injuries. A slip and fall in the wrong circumstances can lead to a major head or brain injury, or spinal cord damage from falling from a great height. Bone breaks like hip fractures can lead to serious health complications and death, especially in senior citizens. Every year, 300,000 people 65 and older go to the hospital for hip fractures – 95% of which come from falls. Slip and fall injuries can be incredibly serious. Common injuries include
- Soft tissue injuries. You may suffer a sprain or tendon tear in a bad fall, which can be extremely painful. Soft tissue injuries aren’t always visible from the outside, which can make them difficult to prove. Prompt medical attention after a fall can help you gather evidence of this type of injury, which can cause chronic pain and other symptoms.
- Cuts and abrasions. Wounds to the head, hips, and extremities are common in slip and fall accidents. These can occur when the ground surface is sharp or abrasive, such as the concrete of a sidewalk. Although more minor than many other types of fall injuries, cuts can still require stitches and leave behind permanent physical scarring.
- Wrist fractures. It’s many people’s first instinct to try to break a fall using their hands. This can lead to serious wrist fractures and shattered bones in the wrists, hands, and fingers. Broken bones in the hands can result in having to miss time at work and having to wear a cast or brace for weeks.
- Hip fractures. Hip fractures are the most serious bone breaks of all fractures in slip and falls. Hip fractures lead to the greatest number of health problems and deaths from fall accidents. About 50% of all people over the age of 65 who suffer hip fractures from falls cannot live independently after the injury.
- Head and brain injuries. You could suffer a minor concussion to serious brain damage in a fall. If a fall results in a bump or blow to the head, it can cause injuries such as skull fractures or damage to the brain. Traumatic brain injuries from falls can lead to temporary or permanent disability, including cognitive problems and loss of motor skills.
- Spinal fractures. The spinal cord may not be able to withstand the pressure of a bad fall, resulting in cracks or fractures to the delicate vertebrae. Spinal cord injuries can lead to paralysis, or loss of sensation and movement, below the point of injury. There is no cure for paralysis. More minor back injuries may still result in chronic pain and temporary disability.
The severity of the injury will depend on the circumstances of the fall. Falls from levels higher than six feet off the ground can easily be fatal if the victim lands on his or her head, neck, or spine. Falls into equipment, such as into a silo on a farm, can also be deadly. Even if a victim survives a fall, he or she can live with permanent pain, disability, and/or disfigurement. If a recent slip and fall accident caused catastrophic injury to you or wrongfully killed a family member, request a consultation at Fiol Law Group. You may be eligible for compensation.
Florida Slip and Fall Laws
To make a claim for a slip and fall accident, you must obey Florida’s applicable laws. Section 768.0755 of the 2017 Florida Statutes states that if a person slips and falls on a foreign substance at a business, the injured person must prove that the establishment knew or should have known about the dangerous condition, and failed to take action to remedy it, to have a claim against the party. The dangerous condition must have either existed for an unreasonable length of time or occurred regularly and was therefore foreseeable.
In Florida, you have four years from the date of your accident to file a civil lawsuit. Missing the deadline will almost certainly result in the courts refusing to hear your case. Don’t wait until the end of your time bracket – the sooner you start the claims process, the sooner you may recover for your financial and personal losses. A civil slip and fall suit could result in payment for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost earnings, and other damages.
Changes in Florida Slip and Fall Law
Until July 1, 2017, the burden of proof on the plaintiff in slip and fall cases was very low. Under the former law, the injured only needed to prove that a slip and fall occurred. It was the burden of the defendant to prove that the premises was maintained safely. However, under the new law, the injured now needs to prove that the establishment had a duty and failed at that duty.
To do so, there are two elements that need to be proved:
- That the establishment had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition; and
- That the establishment should have taken action to remedy it.
While “actual” notice of a dangerous condition is self-explanatory and straight forward, “constructive” notice is a bit more abstract. Constructive notice means that a business should have knowledge of something – even if they actually have no knowledge. For example, if a gas station knew that their bathroom floor was always wet and slippery or a restaurant knew the floor in front of the salad bar is frequently littered with dropped food, then they should know that there is potential danger and accidents may happen if they do not properly maintain those areas.
The new law does not mean that if you have slipped on a grape in a supermarket and been injured you have no case. The intention of the new law is not to end cases entirely, but rather to put an end to frivolous slip and fall cases – especially in situations where defendant businesses simply settle so they can avoid the cost of trial. Slip and fall cases for Florida retailers were double the national average.
What to Do If You Have Been Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident
The steps you take immediately after your fall can determine the success of a subsequent insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Directly following a fall, speak to the supervisor, manager, or property owner in charge of the premises. Report your fall in detail, and write down whom you spoke with and who offered assistance, such as a store employee. Request immediate medical assistance if you know you have injuries.
Even if you don’t feel injured, visit your doctor or a local Tampa hospital after a fall for a checkup. You could have hidden injuries with symptoms that haven’t yet become obvious, such as a herniated disc, concussion, or sprain. Keep all documentations of your accident and subsequent injuries. This includes any police reports, photographs of the premises, and your medical records. Create a file with all information relevant to your case.
Slip and Fall Statistics
If you’ve recently suffered an injury from slipping or tripping and falling down, you’re not alone. Slips, trips, and falls affect millions of people every year. According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), falls result in eight million hospital emergency room visits every year – the overall leading cause of visits at 21.3% of the total. Slip and falls in particular account for more than one million ER visits, or 12% of all falls. Here are a few more intriguing facts about slip and fall accidents:
- Men and women account for almost the same number of fatal falls throughout the U.S., however, men account for the majority of deaths in work-related The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 4,322 fatal falls for men in 2010, compared to 368 fatal falls for women the same year. Older BLS data showed falls accounting for about 5% of job-related female fatalities compared to 11% for males.
- Slip and falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims in America. They are the leading cause of work-related injuries in workers 55 and older. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls are the number one cause of death in the construction industry. If you a slip and fall injured you at work, talk to a personal injury lawyer before filing a workers’ compensation claim.
- The elderly are especially at risk of falls, as the odds increase with each decade of life. Falls are the second-leading cause of brain and spinal cord injuries in those over the age of 65. About 60% of people who die from falls in the U.S. are over the age of 75. The same percentage of nursing home residents will fall each year. Those over the age of 85 are 10 to 15 times more likely to suffer hip fractures in falls than those aged 60-65 years.
- In Florida, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death. They are also the number one cause of non-fatal hospital admissions. In 2014, unintentional falls killed 2,764 Florida citizens and sent 67,860 more to the hospital. Falls killed 14.2 people per 100,000 population in Florida in 2014, compared to 13.5 per 100,000 in 2013. Males had higher rates of falls than females.
At Fiol Law Group, we believe your fall is more than just another statistic. It marks someone else’s negligence in providing a reasonably safe premises for you and your family. We believe in standing up for the rights of unsuspecting guests, shoppers, and visitors after injuries from falls on public and private properties. We can help you understand your rights as an invitee or licensee (or even a trespasser if the victim is a child) after a fall, and your potential legal actions for pursuing damage compensation. Our team has handled cases like yours before, and can offer customized legal services.
Once it’s time to discuss a claim with workers’ compensation or someone’s insurance company, call our law offices. You can consult with a knowledgeable Tampa slip and fall attorney for free during an initial consultation. We can let you know if we think your accident has merit as a personal injury claim, and what your next move should be to garner maximum compensation. We want to help you get back on your feet after a slip, trip, or fall in Tampa. Call (866) 921-7560 or go online to schedule your consultation today.