Public Safety and Premises Liability in Florida
Every citizen of Florida has a right to public safety when visiting a business or government-owned property. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. According to the Florida Department of Health, unintentional falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths for residents over 65 and non-fatal injury-related hospital admissions. Many of these injuries and deaths are caused by the negligence of commercial property owners and public entities.
Slip and Fall Injuries and Death are commonly caused by:
- Slick entrances to business establishments due to worn out flooring or a lack of protective skid mats, especially during rain
- Uneven surfaces on the roadways, defective sidewalks, and potholes in parking lots
- Wet floors, clutter on the floor, or poorly marked steps in a business or public building
- Construction sites are inherently dangerous for workers and visitors due to building collapse, uneven footing, and moving objects
- Functional limitations, mental status changes, and medication side effects are among the common reasons for falls, especially for patients at health care institutions
- Ramps or stairs without railings or poorly lit areas in public areas
Common physical injuries from slip and falls are traumatic brain injuries, neck and back damage, soft tissue injuries, fractures, torn ligaments and tendons, and spinal cord injuries. Long-term emotional damages associated with falls include posttraumatic stress syndrome, anxiety, and depression. Physical and psychological damages can both have significant effects on a person’s quality of life. There are many types of compensation awarded in a successful settlement or litigation. Reimbursement of medical bills is a component.
Compensation may also include the cost of long-term rehabilitation, pain and suffering, lost current and future income, and loss of enjoyment in life. There is compensation for funeral expenses in wrongful death cases and loss of medical and pension benefits for the surviving family.
Slip and fall lawsuits are premises liability claims under the theory of negligence. In a court of law, a plaintiff must prove the elements of negligence to be awarded compensation. Florida Statute 768.0755 addresses premises liability for transitory foreign substances in a business establishment. The statute states that the injured person must prove that the business owner had actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition and should have taken action to repair it. Constructive knowledge is defined as the existence of a hazardous condition for a length of time so that the entity should have been aware of it. The hazardous condition was foreseeable as it occurred with regularity. The Florida statute of limitations for a slip and fall claim is four years from the injury date.
Many victims do not report a claim because they feel embarrassed or feel they may have contributed to the fall. There is comparative negligence in Florida, where victims can receive compensation even if they bear some of the blame. The award for the injured party may be reduced by the percentage of the blame the court imposes. For instance, the entrance to a public building may have been slippery; however, the injured party was wearing inappropriate footwear. The court determines what percentage of fault is assigned to the victim and reduces the award accordingly.
Other examples of comparative negligence are:
- The victim is walking in an area that is restricted to visitors. That area has appropriate signage or cones to deter visitors.
- The victim is talking on the phone or not paying attention and subsequently falls.
- The victim has impairments due to alcohol or drug usage that contributes to the fall.
- The victim has pre-existing health conditions that predispose them to falls.
Ogle Law LLC believes in a Safer Community through Accountability.
A commercial business owner or a government entity has a duty to provide a safe environment for guests on their premises. If this duty is breached through negligence, they are liable for damages. The personal injury attorneys at Ogle Law LLC provide superior representation for their clients for premises liability claims. Although many cases are settled out of court, we are always prepared for a jury trial. Attorney William H. Ogle has the distinction of being a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial Specialist. Less than 7% of Florida state lawyers have met the rigorous standards to have attained this specialization.
At Ogle Law LLC, we demonstrate our dedication and commitment to advocacy and justice for our clients. If you have been the victim of a slip and fall accident on commercial or public property, contact our office for a case evaluation. Make an appointment with an attorney that will aggressively work to help you and your family pursue compensation for your injuries. Contact us at our Daytona Beach or Alachua, Florida office at 386-260-2073 or 386-462-0476.