Posted on August 19, 2019 in General
Slip-and-fall accidents are some of the most common reasons for personal injury claims in Florida. Falls are one of the top three causes of unintentional injury deaths in the U.S, according to National Safety Council data. Wet floors, food debris in grocery stores and inadequate lighting could all cause slip-and-fall accidents. If you suffer a serious injury such as a hip fracture or concussion in a slip-and-fall, the laws in Florida may entitle you to compensation. Navigating Florida’s related laws may take help from a slip and fall attorney.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a state-imposed deadline for bringing civil claims. The point of a statute of limitations is to motivate injured parties to file their lawsuits promptly. If a plaintiff had as much time as he or she wanted to bring a claim, it would be unfair to the defendant. The plaintiff could feasibly wait until the loss of important evidence to file the claim – destroying the defendant’s ability to defend him or herself. Courtrooms in Florida adhere strictly to the state’s statutes of limitations, with limited exceptions.
If you miss the deadline on filing a slip-and-fall accident claim, you will most likely give up your right to seek monetary damages. Most courts will refuse to hear premises liability claims plaintiffs do not file soon enough. Others may dismiss the case after a defendant points out the missed statute of limitations as a defense to liability. It is important to file your claim against a property owner or another defendant within the statute of limitations.
Florida’s statute of limitations on claims involving personal injuries is four years from the date of the accident. This deadline applies to most cases involving injuries, including slip-and-fall accidents. The exception is if you do not notice your injuries until a later date. If you fell on September 5th but did not notice a slipped disk in your back until September 15th, for example, your statute of limitations would not start until the 15th. The name of this exception is the discovery rule.
Bringing a lawsuit for a slip-and-fall accident in Florida also involves comparative negligence laws. Comparative negligence is a frequently used defense to slip-and-fall lawsuits. A defendant may allege your comparative fault by arguing that a normal and prudent person would have seen and avoided the fall hazard. This argument may be valid if you were engaged in some activity that took your attention away from walking, such as texting or chatting with friends.
In Florida, if you bear some blame for the slip-and-fall accident, the courts could diminish or completely take away your judgment award. Florida’s pure comparative negligence law states that while partial fault will not bar you from financial recovery, it could impact how much you receive in damages
The courts in Florida will reduce your judgment award by your percentage of fault for the slip-and-fall. If a defendant succeeds in convincing the courts that you were 30% at fault for texting and walking, for example, you would lose 30% of the awarded amount. In this example, a $10,000 judgment award would drop to $7,000 ($10,000×30% = $3,000, $10,000-$3,000=$7,000) to account for your comparative negligence.
Maximizing your settlement or judgment award for slip-and-fall damages will take minimizing your percentage of fault for the accident. Hiring a lawyer could help you combat the defense of comparative negligence. A lawyer may be able to gather enough evidence against the defendant to convince a judge or jury of the defendant’s majority fault. Evidence may come in the form of eyewitness statements, video footage of the fall, accident reports and photographs.
Do You Have a Claim?
In Florida, you will only have a slip-and-fall accident claim if you were a guest or licensee on the property. If you were trespassing when you slipped and fell, Florida law does not impose any duties of care on the property owner. Trespassing could eliminate any right you otherwise might have had to request compensation from the landowner. You or your Florida slip and fall lawyer must show you were lawfully on private property or public property when the fall occurred to have a valid claim.