Holiday shopping is in full swing, and Metts Legal has put out a full red alert warning for Slip-and-Fall accidents.
Likewise, we have noticed the uptick in holiday traffic and traffic accidents, of course. Sadly, those red and green lights blend with the beautiful holiday lights, so take care on the Orlando free-ways and streets.
However, in this week’s topic, our warnings center on the dangers of slip-and-fall accidents during the crazy, busy hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays.
Slip-and-Fall Season: Slipped Up On Us with the Holiday Rush
On the one hand, we are concerned about personal injuries to members of the community as they rush across shiny store floors, down crowded mall hallways, and over rain-swept city sidewalks and stairs. In many ways, ‘Tis the Season for slipping-and-falling.
On the other hand, if you are the owner of a business, we do not want lawsuits to destroy your holiday due to carelessness or neglect in preparing for the rush of shoppers.
Metts legal does not want your holiday shopping, visiting and event attendance to result in injury or tragedy. So let’s take a look at some of the aspect of the slip-and-fall lawsuit and study some legal details.
A Season of Distractions: A Slip-and-Fall Accident Can Happen to You
Whether you are 18 or 80, you can suddenly find yourself injured in an unexpected and undignified fall. First of all, if you are rushing and you trip yourself, that is one thing. However, if you are injured, under the premises liability laws, then property owners are responsible for your protection.
That’s right, Metts Legal wants you to be aware that property owners must protect people from dangerous conditions on their grounds, known legally as their “premises.”
If you slip and fall, through the neglect or carelessness of a homeowner, business owner or a city facility, you might have a personal injury lawsuit case. At Metts Legal, we hope you do not make it hard on yourself; call a lawyer. Despite their seeming simplicity, slip-and-fall cases can be quite complex. They are very detail-oriented, and you are quite likely to need the guidance of a personal injury lawyer.
Slip-and-Fall: Holiday Stress and Every Day Common Causes
If you are focused on a Christmas shopping list or hunting Chanukah treasures, your own lack of concentration could cause a slip-and-fall accident. Now, we don’t want to give you anxiety, but while listening to the holiday tunes, you might not be aware of the dangers around you. And many dangers surround the 21st-century consumer tends to his or her holiday chores.
One of the ways Metts Legal protects you is by educating you to be aware of the following list of daily threats, dangers and traps that can tip you, tilt you, snag you, trip you or cause you to fall. And high-paced Holiday shopping adventures can provide a very dangerous environment for these types of falls.
An easy way to organize some of the basic facts about Slip-and-Fall accidents is to use the famous “w’s”- Who, What, Where, When and sometimes Why.
Holiday Hazards and Every Day Slip-and-Fall Threats: the “Where” of Slip-and-Fall Accidents
In this list, find some of the ways that property owners can fail to keep you safe as well as some of our cautions to keep you focused and aware in these busy times.
1. Structural Defects:
It’s a fact of life that buildings age. Add to that the fact that some businesses indulge in improper construction in the first place. Now you have two situations where:
- Walk-ways can crack.
- Steps and stairs sag and get uneven.
- Hand-rails loosen or fall without replacement.
The owner is responsible for the safety of these basic building code requirements.
2. Have a Nice “Trip” Hazards:
These dangers include any feature of a room that causes a tangled trap, catch your foot and dump you head over heels or heels overhead:
- Shiny floors that gleam with extra polish reflect the holiday glow. However, they also increase your risk of a slip-and-fall accident.
- Likewise, even in homes, the season’s sparkling lights cause extra dangers when electrical cords and extensions are strung along the floor in unfamiliar places.
- If the cords are taped, watch out for stickiness that can grab your shoe. Sticky tape residue will trip you after you have left the area where you encountered the cord.
- Likewise, if displays and decorations become new focal points for rooms, the pathway might be purposely and artistically dimmed. Candlelight and fireplace flickers might be cozy or romantic, but please, watch your footing. Be on the look-out for darkness, flickering lights or dimness in unexpected places.
3. Weather Permits Accidents:
Property owners should minimize the weather-related risks Trip-and-Fall Accidents. In many parts of the country, this means you might have to help neighbors shovel snow and ice off their walkways.
- However, it can also mean you must clean up your debris for safety’s sake, after one of our famous hurricanes.
- Rain-slicked walks and slippery porches also pose high risks to innocent shoppers and visitors.
When Is the Property Owner Legally Responsible for Your Slip-and-Fall?
Now you know where a property owner is legally responsible. However, next on our list, let’s check “When.” This concept has a few different variations from state to state, but in general, you face three major challenges.
You must prove that the owner of the property was negligent.
This requires three not-so-simple steps:
- First, you must prove that the owner actually had a duty to protect or warn you of the hazard. (During the holiday, be aware of signs, marked “Watch your step.” In fact, watch for those signs all year long.)
- Secondly, you must show that he or she breached this duty. You strive to show that the property owner neglected to use reasonable care in maintaining or operating the property. Evidence in every case is different, and the court decides accordingly.
- Thirdly, the law obligates you to prove an injury occurred due to this breach.
Who? Who the Victim is, Relative to the Property, Makes a Difference
In many states, a property owner owes different duties to different groups of people. In Florida, the responsibilities of the property owner differ with the intent of the groups visiting his premises.
Invitees: The corner antique store is having an after-hours Open House and special holiday reception. In such a case, a property owner has a legal duty to carefully inspect his or her business for any conditions that might pose threats to customers and friends.
People who go to the party or just visit the store for regular shopping are both termed “invitees” in the eyes of the law.
Licensees: Another type of role is that of a licensee. He or she has his or her own purpose for entering the property. Just like the invitee, he or she deserves a warning from the owner regarding any dangers.
Trespassers: As you might imagine, property owners do not owe this classification of visitor warnings or protection. A trespasser, by definition, does not have permission to enter the property.
Anticipated Trespassers: However, anticipated trespassers are a different category. Let’s say you know that trespassers are very probably going to enter your property. For example, let’s say it is Halloween evening. Let’s add that you are well aware of the open pit made that morning to solve a plumbing problem.
In this case, you anticipate a neighborhood full of young and old Trick-or-Treaters. In such a case, the Law says you must give anticipated trespassers a reasonable warning against that hidden, dangerous condition on your property.
Children: As a property owner, you generally have a stronger responsibility to protect children from harm on your property than adults. The best example would be the case of an attractive nuisance known as a swimming pool. Signs, warnings, locks, fences, alarms, lights, and pool covers are all safety precautions.
If you are a pool owner, we hope your property precautions will prevent curious children from unsupervised play at the water’s edge. Under the Law, you must show reasonable care. If you are aware that a child might not identify that the water is dangerous, warn and protect them. If you know that some children won’t understand the pool is a certain depth or that the shiny rocks are slippery, then protect and warn them.
Another Issue with the “Who” behind a Slip-and-Fall lawsuit:
Be sure you are aware of the proper identity of the owner of the store, home or business where you fell. Florida law mandates that you must include each defendant in your case. The law will only require a payment for a share of your cost from each owner in your Slip-and-Fall Case. Although one man owns a store, he might have 3 partners who own the walk-way in front of it. Don’t leave them out of the lawsuit, if that is where you fell.
So, include all the owners, or you will risk your right to full payment. This is the type of detail that inspires us to remind you that you should hire a personal injury lawyer in a lawsuit situation, even if you are pretty sure you will come to settlement terms.
What if Your Slip-and-Fall Accident is Partly Your Own Fault?
Likewise, be aware of comparative negligence. This means the court will compare the business or landowner to you.
Then they decide who was the most to blame for your accident. After all, it is called an “accident.” In other words, you could lose the case because your own carelessness was more serious than the danger on the property. Likewise, the fact that the accident was partly your fault could cause the court to reduce your amount of damages but allow you to win your case.
Usually, the amount is specified by percentages. So, if you would have gotten 1,000.00, had you not contributed to your own slip-and-fall, you would perhaps get only 80 percent of it, or perhaps only 30 percent. There is really no determining factor for the percentages. If you are part of the cause of the accident, you can set your percentage points. The court will also set percentages for both you and the property owner. The ones set by the court will establish your fate as winner or loser of the Slip and Fall Case, by the numbers.
Next Week: More about the Slip-and-Fall Laws:
We have only scratched the surface of the Slip-and-Fall accident in this blog. Next week Metts Legal will bring you information on some of the damages you can claim and on some of the defenses, a defendant can provide against your injury.
Until then, we invite you to enjoy your holiday shopping, preparations and events but remain aware of your surroundings. Take your time and avoid the rush of slip-and-fall injuries. Metts Legal is certain no one wants a plaster cast for a holiday gift.