Every year, thousands of Americans experience a fall-related injury, and these injuries occur for a host of different reasons. You might fall at someone’s house, a business, or at an event such as a football game, and as people, our natural instinct is to deny that we have sustained a serious injury. However, one out of every five falls sustained by adults age 65 or older causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Moreover, the CDC has indicated that falls were the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for children age 0 to 19 during the period of 2000 to 2006 with falls among children under one year of age accounting for 50% of all non-fatal injuries nationwide. While injuries from falls can be severe and life changing, they can also be expensive.
In 2015, for example, the the total medical costs for falls among older adults, those age 65 or older, surpassed $50 billion, and while this figure might seem overwhelming, it makes sense when you consider that falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and hip fractures in the U.S. Some fall-related injuries can be attributed to clumsiness, old age, or simply dangerous activities while others can be caused by the negligent actions of a business or property owner. If a fall is caused by a property owner, Florida law allows an accident victim to seek compensation for damages incurred by an accident victim as a result of the property owner’s negligent actions, but slip and fall accidents are complex legal cases by nature. As such, there are some specific aspects of Florida’s premises liability statutes that you should be aware if you have been involved in a slip and fall accident.
Slip and Fall Laws in Florida
To understand slip and fall laws in Florida, you have to gain an understanding of how different visitors to a property owner’s premises are classified. As a general matter, there are three broad categories of visitors under Florida law:
Some of these categories have subcategories defining, to a certain degree, the different types of visitors that might come onto a landowner’s property, and the category a person falls into defines the duty of care the landowner owes the visitor to keep their premises safe or at least warn the visitor of any hazards they might encounter on the landowner’s premises.
What is an Invitee in Florida?
Invitees are owed the highest duty of care from property owners, and they can be divided into two subcategories: business invitees and public invitees. The Florida Supreme Court provided lower courts with guidance on how a public and business invitee is defined in Post v. Lunney, which states that a public and business invitee are defined as follows:
- Public Invitee: A person who is invited to enter or remain on land as a member of the public for a purpose for which the land is held open to the public.
- Business Invitee: A person who is invited to enter or remain on land for a purpose directly or indirectly connected with business dealings with the possessor of the land.
Invitees can take many forms. For example, a person that is enjoying a public park could easily be considered a public invitee while a customer at a business could be considered a business invitee. The key to making a determination as to whether or not a person falls into the invitee category is to focus on the reason the visitor was on the landowner’s property.
What is a Licensee in Florida?
A licensee was generally defined by the Florida Supreme Court in Luney as a person who enters upon the property of another for their own convenience, pleasure, or benefit, and licensees, like invitees, can be divided into two subcategories: licensee by invitation and uninvited licensee. Although licensees in general are owed lower of duty of care by the property owner than the duty of care owed to invitees, licensees by invitation are owed a higher duty of care than their counterpart. Licensees by invitation include visitors such as social guests or family members while an example of a uninvited licensee would be a person who enters a business to get change for a $10 bill.
What is a Trespasser in Florida?
Trespassers by definition are unwanted visitors, and as such, Fla.Stat.§768.075(3)(b) states that a property owner doesn’t owe a duty of care at all to undiscovered trespassers as long as the trespasser is not injured by intentional misconduct on the part of the property owner. Fla.Stat.§768.075(3)(b) goes on to set a different standard for discovered trespassers by stating that a landowner has a duty of care to warn discovered trespassers of hazards on the landowner’s property, and the landowner can be liable for damages to a trespasser if the trespasser’s injuries are a result of gross negligence or intentional misconduct on the part of the landowner.
Burden of Proof in a Florida Slip and Fall Accident
As you can imagine, the majority of slip and fall accident victims fall into the business invitee category due to the slip and fall accident occurring at a business while the accident victim is in a customer capacity. However, the burden of proof is placed solely on an accident victim to prove that the property owner acted in a negligent manner which in turn, caused the victim to sustain injuries and incur damages, but Fla.Stat.768.§0755 takes the burden of proof a step further in this scenario by stating that, in order to to prevail in a slip and fall accident claim involving a business, a plaintiff must prove the business owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it. Moreover, Fla.Stat.768.§0755 provides that constructive knowledge can be proven through circumstantial evidence by demonstrating that:
- The dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have known of the condition; or
- The condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable
What Damages Can I Receive Compensation for in a Slip and Fall Claim
The law allows accident victims to seek both economic and non-economic compensatory damages from the property owner or their insurance company for injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident. Economic damages compensate you for things such as:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Future medical expenses
In contrast, non economic damages compensate you for things such as:
- Pain and Suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Do I Need to Hire a Slip and Fall Accident Attorney?
Slip and fall accident claims can be complex and highly contested, which is why hiring the right slip and fall accident attorney in Miami, FL is such an important choice for slip and fall accident victims. 1800-Injured is a medical and lawyer referral service that connects accident victims with slip and fall accident attorneys in the Miami area, and we are dedicated to helping you. So, don’t wait until it’s too late to file your claim. Call 1800-Injured today.