Slip-and-fall accidents account for around 1 million emergency room visits each year. These accidents affect all age brackets and necessitate hospital costs of between $30,000 and $40,000 on average. For many people, these costs are simply absurd, and lead to the question: Can one file for compensation if they get into a slip-and-fall accident at a commercial premise?
In the case of Florida, in particular, where there’s no “wet floor sign law,” things can get tricky when filing a lawsuit, but it is still possible to get a successful claim if you can prove the establishment was negligent. Below are some of the things you need to consider before contacting a personal accident attorney to file your suit:
What Do Florida Laws Say About Slip-and-Fall Accidents?
There is no specific law in the state that deals with slip-and-fall accidents. However, the Premises Liability Law covers much of the causes of such accidents.
The Law mandates all property owners – both corporations and individuals – to care for all invited guests at the premises. They need to, among other things, conduct regular maintenance and inspections on all floors, and fix all issues that may be considered dangerous for the health of their visitors.
They also need to follow the occupational safety standards established at both the state and federal levels, and put signs to warn guests about the hazards present at any given time.
With that in mind, the main legal principle used in settling Florida slip-and-fall lawsuits is the general negligence theory. This basically states that where one party bears the responsibility to another and their failure to meet that responsibility, willfully or otherwise, results in harm to the second party, the first party is liable to offer compensation.
In cases where the accident was caused by a “transitory foreign substance,” which is basically an item that happened to be where it doesn’t belong, the injured person needs to demonstrate that the premise owners knew about the hazards before the accident.
If it is proven that the premise failed to take preventative actions on time, they may be required to compensate the injured person. The latter only needs to prove that:
- The particular hazard existed for such a time that it should have been discovered during routine inspections.
- The situation has occurred before and should therefore have been predictable from the premise’s perspective.
The circumstantial evidence above can be established through the use of photos and videos, CCTV footage, medical reports, or witnesses’ testimonies.
On their part, premise owners are encouraged to warn visitors about transitory foreign substances by, for instance, putting up wet floor signs. They also need to create awareness about the various ways in which accidents can occur when one is on the premises.
Do Wet Floor Signs Affect My Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
Wet floor signs do provide immunity for premise owners in some cases, but they do not always provide a way out. Basically, if the business had put up clear hazard signs before the accidents, the owner can defend themselves using the Comparative Negligence Law, which states that the compensation due to an injured person should be reduced based on the scale of their accountability.
Nonetheless, the business may be forced to pay full compensation if the injured person proves that:
- The sign was poorly placed or was in a place that had poor lighting
- There was no alternative path
- There was another hazard at play for which there was no warning given