Slip and Fall Accident Accounting in Tampa, FL
The law uses the term “premises liability” to refer to a property owner's responsibility when an invited guest is injured due to a safety hazard that the owner knew about (or should have known about) yet failed to correct. Perhaps the most common example of a premises liability claim is one arising from a slip-and-fall accident. This typically occurs in retail establishments when a customer slips on a puddle of liquid–usually a spill–and falls to the ground.
Slip-and-fall accidents may not sound like a big deal. But in reality, they often produce serious, life-threatening injuries, particularly to elderly persons and those individuals with underlying health conditions. Keep in mind, if a person slips, falls, and hits their head on the ground, they can easily sustain a traumatic brain injury. In other cases, a slip-and-fall accident may cause broken bones that require hospitalization.
When Is a Property Owner Responsible for a Slip-and-Fall Accident?
Just because someone slips and falls on another person's property, that does not mean the property owner is automatically responsible for the victim's injuries. Instead, the law requires the victim prove a number of things to establish the owner's legal liability:
- First, the plaintiff must prove the defendant actually owned, leased, or controlled the property where the slip-and-fall accident occurred;
- Second, the plaintiff must prove the defendant was negligent in maintaining the property;
- Third, the plaintiff must prove they were harmed by slipping and falling on the property;
- Finally, the plaintiff must prove the defendant's negligence was a substantial factor in causing that harm.
It is the second element–proving the defendant's negligence–that often proves the most challenging in court. In this context, “negligence” means there was some hazardous condition on the property that caused the accident. The defendant must have known about–or could have discovered through reasonable care–this hazardous condition existed. Then the defendant must also have failed to repair that condition, taken steps to mitigate its potential harm, or failed to warn customers the hazard existed.
In some cases, even when a property owner failed to take any of these steps, a court may still find there was no negligence because the hazard in question was so “open and obvious” that the victim could have easily taken steps to avoid it. This is why it is critical for victims to work with an experienced slip-and-fall accident lawyer who understands how to defend against such arguments.
Assessing Damages for a Slip-and-Fall Accident
As with any personal injury case, when a defendant is found responsible for a slip-and-fall accident, it may be ordered to pay a variety of damages to the victim, including but not limited to:
- The victim's medical bills, including any projected future treatment and rehabilitation expenses;
- The victim's lost wages if they missed time from work due to their injuries;
- If the victim sustained long-term injuries, the loss of their future earning capacity; and
- Non-economic damages to compensate the victim for their pain and suffering.
Once again, a qualified slip-and-fall accident lawyer can review the circumstances surrounding your specific accident and help assess the possible range of damages for your case.