Stage or Elevation Slip and Falls in Florida

Posted By on September 22, 2016

It is surprising to think how often you can come across a “stage” or “elevation” in South Florida. Sure, you’ll find a stage at a local theater or in a school auditorium.

But terms like “elevations” and “stages” are used describe many different surfaces. Especially when it comes to a slip and fall accident.

Have you been hurt because of a fall? Did it happen on the property of a business?

Do you have expenses to pay like medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. Serious accidents can be expensive and the bills can add up fast.

Will you have to pay them? Or, will the insurance policy of the business owner cover your accident?

These are all questions that are asked when someone is hurt because of the negligence of another, including a slip and fall.

 

Center Court of the Riverchase Galleria

Stairs and balconies at the shopping mall are both potential Change in Elevation Slip and Fall sites.


 

Will Your Slip and Fall Claim Be Covered by the Business Owner’s Insurance?

In Florida, businesses are liable for accidents on their property under “premises liability law.” The Florida legislature passed specific statutes which obligate companies to take financial responsibility for accidents suffered by their clients and customers (”invitees”).

But it’s not automatic that the business will be liable. Even if you have been seriously hurt in a slip and fall on their property, they may not have to compensate you for your losses.

Just because you fell at a business location does not make them immediately liable for your damages.

What will make them liable to compensate you for your accident injuries after a slip and fall? Under Florida law, they must have been negligent, or unreasonable, in keeping their facilities safe.

So, were they negligent and irresponsible in your case?

What Evidence Will You Need To Prove Your Slip and Fall Claim

In Florida, an accident victim will need to provide evidence that the business failed to act reasonably in trying to prevent their slip and fall. It is the victim’s “burden of proof.” The victim’s goal is to show the business or property owner was negligent, or it failed to act reasonably.

This means you have the duty to gather together not only (1) proof of your damages (your medical bills, for instance) but you will have to have evidence to show that (2) the accident happened, that (3) it was the business’s fault and (4) the business had a duty to keep you safe and it failed to fulfill its duty.

Was the Business Reasonable in Trying to Prevent Your Fall?

Your first step: understand your accident scene and the business itself.

That means learning what this kind of business should be doing to prevent your kind of slip and fall. Know what a reasonable and prudent business in this line or industry should do (restaurant, spa, store, parking garage, etc.).

Then you can compare it to the facts of your particular case. Did they fail to do what they were supposed to prevent an injury from occurring on their premises?

A great help here are the various “risk manuals” published online by insurance companies who provide accident coverage to businesses. No one will know better what is reasonable and what is not for these business operations than the companies who have to pay claims when they fail to do act reasonably. (See, for instance, this one from Traveler’s Insurance).

How Do You Define a Stage or Elevation Fall?

Next step: understand your accident. Different kinds of slip and fall accidents are evaluated differently. (See, for example, our earlier posts on slip and fall accidents in entryways; restrooms; stairways; etc.).

So, have you suffered a “change in elevation” or stage slip and fall?

What is a “stage” or “elevation” in terms of a slip/trip or fall accident? Any kind of change in a footpath, where forward movement will elevate you as you step forward, can be considered a “stage” or “elevation” for purposes of assessing risk and defining slip and fall accident hazards.

When an insurance adjuster considers a “change in elevation” or stage slip and fall accident, they are looking at things like:

  • single steps
  • low profile stages
  • high profile stages
  • raised seating areas
  • deck transitions
  • patio transitions
  • Platforms
  • Tables
  • Bars
  • Piers
  • Docks
  • Mezzanines
  • curbs
  • ramps
  • Speed bumps in a roadway
  • stairwells
  • Parking lot buttresses
  • Scaffolding.

What is a Change in Elevation?

Accident experts as well as insurance adjusters and claims departments are well-acquainted with the dangers of a fall caused by a change in elevation. See, e.g., “Accident Prevention: Slips, Trips and Falls,” a risk manual published by the University of Wisconsin.

Sometimes these are minor changes in a walking path. Even a slight change (up or down) of half-an-inch can cause someone to trip and fall.

Even a slight 1/2 inch drop in a sidewalk can cause someone to fall and be seriously injured!

These low level elevation fall accidents usually happen when someone steps on, or off, a street-side curb; or is walking through a crowded parking lot at the grocery store or shopping mall. Injuries may include an ankle fracture and some embarrassment, but a full recovery likely follows a low level elevation fall.

However, serious injuries and even death can result from falls caused by high level changes in elevation. These are often work place accidents, where someone is involved in construction, repair, or maintenance of a project and falls from a scaffold, ramp, platform, roof, overhang, balcony, etc.

Fatal Change in Elevation falls are known dangers on construction sites. Also, of course, in the roofing industry.

For more information, see the June 2013 risk manual provided by Travelers, “Slip, Trip and Fall Risk Management” and the manual “Construction Safety and Health,” published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Some elevations may be governed by federal law protecting access for those with disabilities.  Ramps, sidewalks, inclines, and other public areas may be covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).   If a business fails to meet the standards set by the ADA, then they can be liable for resulting slip and fall accident damages as well as facing federal liability for non-compliance.  See, e.g., “ADA Standards for Accessible Design.”

Causes of Change in Elevation Accidents

When someone is not focusing on where they are walking, they may not realize that they are approaching a change in elevation. Maybe they are new to the area; maybe they are so accustomed to walking this path that they take their safety for granted. Maybe they’re just busy or having fun.

This does not mean that they are liable for their accident and resulting injuries.

Hidden From View

Sometimes, the change in elevation is hidden and not easily seen. This can happen at night, or where inadequate lighting has been provided for the area. Maybe it’s covered by trash or a rug. You didn’t see it.

Sub-Standard Conditions

Many slip and fall and trip and fall accidents occur because of changes in elevation caused by sub-standard conditions. These can be inadequate repair and maintenance of the walking path. The sub-standard conditions can also be failure to maintain things designed to stop a fall, like handrails, slip-resistant flooring, and the like.

Obstructions or Debris

Obstructions and debris on a walking path can block the view of an upcoming change in elevation and cause someone to suffer severe injuries in a fall. Trash can obscure a change in elevation. Even a large group of people walking ahead of you may be enough to block your view of the impending danger.

Bad Lighting

Likewise, failing to have proper lighting on the walking path can invite the accident victim to assume that their walking path is secure, blinding them to the upcoming change in elevation and causing them to fall. Dim lights or burned out light bulbs can mean a serious trip and fall on a change in elevation.

Blocked Depth Perception

Depth perception is altered by different levels of light, as well as color, pattern, and contrast. How well you can see ahead of you will depend upon your depth perception.

If the walking pathway is dark or dim, your eyes cannot see as well, and there is an increase risk of a fall caused by a change in elevation. Similarly, if the area is monotone with little variance in color, the danger increases of a change in elevation trip and fall. See, e.g., “What You Don’t See Can Hurt You: Understanding the Role of Depth Perception in Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents,” published by the University of West Florida.

16 Questions to Ask When Evaluating a Business Owner’s Responsibility for Your Slip and Fall Accident

Here are some questions for you to consider as you compare your accident with what you have learned a reasonable business owner or operator would do in the circumstances.

Remember, you must have not only photos and visuals of your accident, but admissible images of the accident site, as well as other evidence including the police report, any witness statements, medical care reports, doctor’s opinions, etc.

Take your facts and ponder the following:

  1. Was there anyone else around at the time of your fall from the stage or elevation? Did they slip or trip?
  2. Has anyone else in the past few months prior to your accident had a problem at this spot with almost falling? Have they tripped? Slipped? What kept them from falling down?
  3. Where there any signs around the stage or elevation to warn you of any danger?
  4. Do you know the OSHA regulations for this particular accident site? Were they followed?
  5. Do you know the guidelines established by the Americans With Disabilities Act for this particular accident site? Were they followed?
  6. What color were the walls, the ceiling, and the flooring? Were they all the same color? Did this hamper your depth perception?
  7. Were there any changes in the patterns found on the walls, the ceiling, or the flooring? Did this hamper your depth perception?
  8. Were there any handrails are guardrails at the accident site?
  9. Were they in good working order? Were they clean or dirty? Were they slippery? Were they loose?
  10. If a stage was involved in your accident, were there portable stanchions (web-like safety belts)?
  11. If an elevated platform was involved in your accident, were there portable stanchions (web-like safety belts)?
  12. If a low level elevation was involved in your accident, was it high enough so that someone walking could see it?
  13. If not, what was done to alert of the risk?
  14. What effort was made by the business to increase the visibility of the change in elevation? Was there any contrasting paint? Signs? Indirect lighting?
  15. Have any repairs or changes been done to the property in the past six months? Who were the contractors? Did they have any concerns or issues with the change in elevation at the site of your accident?
  16. Who is responsible for cleaning and daily upkeep? Did they have any concerns or issues with the change in elevation at the site of your accident?

Do You Have a Claim?

If you or a loved one have been the victim of a slip and fall accident that happened on commercial property here in South Florida, then you may want to investigate possible legal claims against the owner and operator of that business with an experienced Florida slip and fall lawyer.

If the business failed to act reasonably to prevent your slip and fall, it it likely it will be found negligent under Florida’s premises liability law. If so, it will be required to compensate you for your damages, including medical costs, lost wages, and more.

If you or a loved one has been injured in one of these slip and falls in Florida, a good piece of advice is to speak with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions.

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.
 
 
 
 

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How do you prove your back injuries if you were in a rear end car accident in Florida?

Posted By on September 20, 2016

In this video, Alan Sackrin answers a question that he has been asked many times before by clients and visitors to this site. If you have questions after watching the video, Alan is available to talk with you now and answer your questions free of charge:

Q: How do you prove your back injuries if you were in a rear end car accident in Florida?

A: If you were involved in a rear-end car accident in Florida, in order to prove your back injuries, you must show what medical treatment that you received as a result of the accident. You must show the medical bills that you received as a result of the accident. You must bring in friends and relatives to talk about how, in fact, the accident has affected your life and what complaints you have and what limitations you have that you didn’t have before the accident. You must bring in radiological studies such as X-rays or MRIs which might be able to definitely show what injuries you did sustain in an accident. Although, many times, it is difficult through an X-ray or an MRI to show what actually resulted from the accident as opposed to what preexisted the accident.

    There are multitude of things that you must bring in court or bring to an insurance adjuster to show that you have sustained a back injury in a Florida car accident case. It would also be advisable to show substantial property damage to the car in which you are in or to the car which struck in the event there is such property damage, to bring pictures or videos of that damage.

Related:

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

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How do you prove permanent injuries from a slip and fall in Florida?

Posted By on September 13, 2016

In this video, Alan Sackrin answers a question that he has been asked many times before by clients and visitors to this site. If you have questions after watching the video, Alan is available to talk with you now and answer your questions free of charge:

Q: How do you prove permanent injuries from a slip and fall in Florida?

A: Sometimes proving permanent injuries from slip and fall cases is very difficult other times it’s very simple. If you slip and fall and sustain a very bad fracture of your ankle that requires surgery with hardware implanted any doctor is going to say that there is some degree of permanent injury. The difficult case is where there’s a slip and fall and there’s a back or a neck injury that doesn’t require an operation. It’s difficult at times to prove that those types of injuries are permanent. Your physician’s testimony is going to be needed. His opinion is going to count a significant amount in front of the jury.

     However, the insurance company is going to have its doctor opine that there was no permanent injury. Therefore, it is critically important that you have independent witnesses who know you and who come across as being trustworthy to talk about how your life has been impacted by the injuries you sustained. When there’s conflicting evidence as to whether or not there’s a permanent injury, it’s up to the jury to decide who to believe but that’s generally how you go proving that you do have a permanent injury from a slip and fall accident.

Related:

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

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Why is it so difficult to get a car accident settlement from a car insurance company?

Posted By on September 9, 2016

In this video, Alan Sackrin answers a question that he has been asked many times before by clients and visitors to this site. If you have questions after watching the video, Alan is available to talk with you now and answer your questions free of charge:

Q: Why is it so difficult to get a car accident settlement from a car insurance company?

A: In Florida, many times it’s very difficult to get a fair and reasonable settlement offer from the insurance company, because Florida has a special law that requires you to sustain a permanent injury in order to obtain compensation for your pain and suffering. It’s very difficult at times to prove that you have a permanent injury. Some injuries automatically constitute permanent injuries; a serious fracture that requires metal and rods to be placed into your body. But when you’re claiming, let’s say, a back injury or a neck injury that doesn’t have a surgical component to it, those are quite difficult to prove are permanent. Even if your X-rays or MRIs show that there’s something wrong with your back or something wrong with your neck, the insurance companies will tend to believe and hire doctors that will say that all those problems preexisted the accident and are not from the accident.
What you need is a board-certified civil trial attorney who’s very experienced in Florida car accident cases to bring the case to court in the event you can’t obtain a reasonable settlement before a lawsuit is filed.

Related:

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

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What type of notice does your insurance company have to give you regarding PIP?

Posted By on August 30, 2016

In this video, Alan Sackrin answers a question that he has been asked many times before by clients and visitors to this site. If you have questions after watching the video, Alan is available to talk with you now and answer your questions free of charge:

Q: What type of notice does your insurance company have to give you regarding PIP?

A: Under your insurance contract, if you are in an accident, it is first your obligation to report it to your insurance company and to report to your insurance company that you have been injured. Once you do that, it is your insurance company’s obligation to send you a PIP form and advise you of the rights to PIP benefits, which are benefits that you receive for medical treatment and lost wages regardless of who caused the accident. Again, you’re in an accident, you have to advise your insurance company that you’re in an accident, even if you don’t think it was your fault because if you’re going to claim PIP benefits, your insurance company has the right to know and the obligation to investigate, and thereafter, it will let you know that you have PIP benefits and send you the appropriate form to complete.

Related:

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

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Backing Car Accidents in Florida

Posted By on August 25, 2016

The National Safety Council (”NSC”) is warning that 2016 may be one of the most dangerous years for drivers on Florida roads — according to their research, the State of Florida has seen a jump in the number of motor vehicle accident injuries and deaths in the first six months of this year. And, this is before we enter the holiday season, beginning with the Labor Day holiday in just a few days.

Florida is Number One for Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries and Fatal Accidents

Today, it is dangerous to drive in Florida. The risk of a serious auto accident is high. In fact, Florida leads the country in serious and fatal motor vehicle accidents.

According to the NSC’s statistics, Florida saw a 43% increase in people seriously injured or killed in accidents involving cars, trucks, SUVs, pick-ups, minivans, and other motor vehicles in the past year. That’s the biggest jump of any state in the nation.

With Florida being number one in the United States for car accidents, it’s never been more important to not only drive with care but to know what to do after being the victim of a motor vehicle accident.

What Help is available to a Florida Car Accident Victim?

If you are seriously hurt or have a loved one who was hurt or even killed in a car crash here in Florida, then Florida’s negligence laws may provide some help. Also, the driver’s insurance policy (or their employer’s policy) should be available to help cover some, if not all, of the financial consequences of the accident. Things like medical care, pain and suffering, long-term rehabilitation, lost wages, and more may be paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

What if you were injured in an accident where the driver backed over you, i.e., in a backing collision? How do you show that the driver was negligent in order to have their insurance company pay your claim and compensate you for your damages?
 

Crash1Car
 

Backing Crashes

What is a backing crash? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one type of backing crash is a “backover,” which is where a negligent driver drives their car in reverse hitting either a pedestrian or bicyclist and injuring or killing them.

Backovers can happen on public roads (”traffic backovers”) or on private property (”non-traffic backovers”), like the driveway of a home or in a fast food restaurant parking lot.

Another kind of backing crash involves a driver who backs out of a parking space, or driveway, and is hit by another vehicle. The second vehicle is unable to predict the backing car, or to stop in time, to prevent colliding with the backing vehicle.

Backing collisions can be very serious and victims can suffer serious injuries and even death.

Sadly, many victims of backovers are children. According to Consumer Reports, at least 50 children are victims of backover accidents every week in this country. Two of these children die from their injuries. Over sixty percent (60%) of these accidents have drivers operating larger motor vehicles, like sport utility vehicles (SUVs), minivans, or pick up trucks.

What Must an Accident Victim Do After a Car Accident in Florida?

After an accident, it may seem obvious that a driver who backed his vehicle into you, your child, or your car, should be held legally responsible for the accident damages.

After all, that driver BACKED into you, right?

However, both the driver and the insurance carrier may not agree with your position so easily.

Why? Because of the duties imposed upon all car accident victims in Florida. As a victim (and potential plaintiff in a personal injury case), you will have to demonstrate that the driver who backed his car, truck, or SUV was the “legal or proximate cause” of the injuries.

In Florida, it is the responsibility of the accident victim to prove his or her legal right to obtain compensation for their damages. If the victim is a minor, then it is up to the legal or natural guardian (usually one or both parents) to prove not only that the negligent act caused the accident, but that the negligent act was a legal/proximate cause of the injuries, which often times is in dispute.

Insurance Carrier’s Viewpoint on a Backing Collision

Meanwhile, the insurance carrier for the driver will be looking at ways to limit or even deny responsibility for the crash and its resulting financial damages. They will try and find a legal defense to a claim so they don’t have to pay for the victim’s damages.

From the perspective of the negligent driver’s insurance company, a backing collision is “normally considered preventable” (quoting Traveler’s risk manual).

Insurance companies know that reasonable drivers should monitor their path and surrounding conditions. They should know the obstacles and hazards that exist before they begin to back up their vehicle. This is true whether or not they are at risk of hitting an object like a utility pole, or a person walking through the parking lot, or another car or truck.

What is a Reasonable Drive From the Insurance Company’s Point of View?

Insurance companies have defined a reasonable driver as one who will “take all precautions to ensure they can back up without striking other vehicles or objects.” You can read this for yourself in the Traveler’s Risk Manual.

What are reasonable precautions for a driver to take to avoid a backing accident, from the perspective of the insurance company? Reasonable steps for a driver to take to prevent one of these car accidents involve not only being aware of hazards behind the vehicle, but it may mean that the driver actually gets out of the car or truck to check and make sure it is safe to back out.

Other reasonable steps include having a third party outside the car guide the driver as he or she backs out. (Though the insurance company will acknowledge that this will not bar their driver from being held liable if there is an accident. Having a guide to help back out the vehicle isn’t a magic bullet.)

Key Factor in Dealing with the Insurance Company

When dealing with the driver’s insurance adjuster, you will need to know that they will have all their years of experience in handling car crash claims, as well as decades of research into car accidents, at the ready. One key factor here will be the actions of their policy holder and what he or she was doing before and during the time of the accident. Was the driver acting reasonably? Can you demonstrate how the negligent driver failed to act in a reasonable manner in trying to prevent and avoid the collision?

20 Questions to Ask After a Backing Collision in Florida

To help you (and to help you convince an adjuster that their policy holder was at fault and therefore they should pay your claim), we have the following questions and issues for you to consider as you evaluate your accident claim. These are things both the insurance adjuster and the driver’s defense lawyer will be considering when they review your claim, with the help from risk manuals provided online by Travelers here and here, as well as National General:

  1. Did the backing driver have to back up? Was it necessary to back up right then? Was it necessary to back up at all?
  2. Did the backing driver plan have the option of pulling forward?
  3. What was the backing driver’s view at the time of the crash? Could he or she see where they were backing?
  4. What was the weather like at the time of the backing accident or backover? Did it impede the backing driver’s vision?
  5. Did the backing driver have someone to guide him or her at the time of backing out?
  6. Did the backing driver try to find someone to guide him or her as he was backing out?
  7. How much did the backing driver look around the vehicle before backing?
  8. Did the backing driver get out of the car to check before backing out?
  9. Did the backing driver back immediately after looking around the surroundings?
  10. Did the backing driver use mirrors while backing out, or did he or she turn their head?
  11. Did the backing driver use interior mirror or side mirrors?
  12. How were these mirrors placed at the time of the accident, did they give him a clear view? Were they clean?
  13. Did the backing driver’s vehicle have rear-view technology?
  14. If so, was it working properly? Was he using it at the time of the backing accident?
  15. Did the backing driver toot the horn before backing up?
  16. Did the driver use the horn while backing?
  17. Were the backing driver vehicle’s rear back-up lights working?
  18. If this was a commercial vehicle, was its backing warning signal working?
  19. How fast or slow did the backing driver back up?
  20. How long was the distance the backing driver had to back up? If it was a long distance, did the backing driver periodically get out and check his progress and any potential dangers in his path?

What Should You Do After a Backover Accident?

Obviously, some of these questions will require the accident victim to gather information before they can be answered. To support the claim against the driver the victim may need evidence such as:

  • the police accident report;
  • photos or video taken of the accident scene; as well as
  • witness statements or recorded interviews with the drivers, passengers, and third parties who witnessed the accident.

In a complicated case, or one where serious injuries or wrongful death is involved, the evidence may be more sophisticated. This is true even if it seems clear that the backing driver was not acting in a reasonable manner and was at fault.

Here, the victim may need to have opinions from accident reconstruction experts, as well as an expert to review medical records, prescription records, and more before the victim can find justice.

Accordingly, having an car accident lawyer who has had years of experience dealing with car insurance companies and their claims adjusters can be invaluable to someone seeking damages after a backover or backing collision.

If you or a loved one has been injured in one of these car accidents in Florida, a good piece of advice is to speak with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions.

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.
 
 
 
 

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What happens when the person who caused the accident leaves the scene?

Posted By on August 23, 2016

In this video, Alan Sackrin answers a question that he has been asked many times before by clients and visitors to this site. If you have questions after watching the video, Alan is available to talk with you now and answer your questions free of charge:

Q: What happens when the person who caused the accident leaves the scene?

A: If the per son who caused the accident leaves the scene and is never able to be determined or located, then you still have a claim against your uninsured motorist insurance carrier if in fact you did have uninsured motorist insurance.

    Uninsured motorist coverage protects you in the event you’re injured by a motorist who does not have bodily injury liability insurance, or sufficient bodily injury liability insurance to cover the value of your injuries. A hit and run motorist who is unable to be identified at any time is considered under Florida law to be an uninsured motorist and you can go against your own insurance company and make a claim for your bodily injury.

Related:

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

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How to Settle a Walkway or Hallway Slip and Fall Accident

Posted By on August 18, 2016

Slip and fall accidents can happen in a walkway or hallway in all sorts of places here in South Florida — from stores and office buildings, to hotel lobbies, condo common areas, and restaurants. It is the responsibility of the property owner, property manager, or business owner to make sure that visitors are protected from known dangers and dangers they should have known about on their premises.

Still, accidents will happen. Slipping and falling in a walkway or hallway can result in serious injuries, resulting in the victim incurring medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and time off from work, as well as other financial loss and damage.

Must the victim bear all of these financial burdens? Not if there is evidence that the owner or operator was negligent for failing to maintain a safe hallway or walkway. Under Florida’s premises liability law a tortfeasor (the party who was negligent) can be held responsible to compensate a victim for his or her damages.

 

Marineland

Walkway at the world’s first oceanarium, Marineland of Florida.


 

Establishing a Negligence Claim For Your Slip and Fall

The key here, from the perspective of the injured slip and fall victim, is to establish with admissible evidence that the business failed to act reasonably in trying to prevent the victim’s accident.

Under Florida law, a slip and fall victim has the duty to establish the business or property owner was negligent.

How to do this? First of all, these businesses have specific regulatory requirements that they must meet regarding their walkways and hallways. For instance, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and the American Disability Act (ADA) are two federal laws that set certain standards for walkways and hallways that are accessible by the public. Federal law defines what is reasonable for some things like surface slip resistance for a public walking surface: if the walkway or hallway fails to have 0.5 static co-efficent of friction, then the business may be held negligent based upon that failure to meet federal standards alone.

However, in most walkway and hallway slip and fall accidents in Florida it will not be so easy to establish that the tortfeasor was negligent. Most reputable business know that they are required to comply with the OSHA and ADA regulations.

What are some steps an accident victim can take to prove or establish negligence in order to settle a claim? We suggest when discussing a claim with an insurance adjuster that the slip and fall victim point to the the “risk manuals” published online by insurance carriers to prove that the business failed to act reasonably in trying to prevent the accident.

Insurance Company Risk Manual

No one has a more vested interest in making sure that property or business owners take precautions and protect against accidents than the insurance companies that provide accident insurance for them. These insurance companies not only provide policies that will cover accident claims brought against their policy holders, they also advise their clients on what things they can and should be doing to protect against anyone getting hurt on their premises.

From their years of processing accident claims, as well as advising their customers and doing their research studies, companies like Travelers, Zurich, and Chubb understand very well what is, and what is NOT, negligence by a business owner or operator in a slip and fall accident.

Since they have shared some of these risk manuals and assessments with the public, it makes sense for a slip and fall victim to review these materials and apply them to their particular circumstances. After doing so, will an accident victim be able to confidently demand their claim be paid because someone was negligent in the repair or maintenance of the walkway or hallway where the accident occurred?

Consider the following:

1. The Flooring of the Walkway or Hallway

From a risk standpoint, there are two main areas to consider regarding flooring after a slip and fall accident: the walking surface design and how it was maintained. Walkways or hallways may be located indoors or outdoors. They may be found on the ground floor or high above, several floors up and overlooking a scenic swimming pool area. Each location needs to be inspected carefully for its own particular circumstances because each location will have its own unique hazards based upon the risks associated with its particular walking surface and its natural surroundings.

  • Confirm the type of flooring of the walkway or hallway at the time of the accident. Was the flooring appropriate for outdoor use? Was it appropriate for indoor use?
  • If the flooring was tile or marble, or another slippery surface, was it treated with a slip resistance film?
  • If the flooring was tile or marble, was it freshly mopped or waxed?
  • If the flooring was polished marble, then was it treated with the appropriate non-slip coating?
  • Was the floor made of wood? Was the wooden floor treated with a non-slip coating?
  • When was the last time that the wood floor had been waxed?
  • Was the floor carpeted? What kind of pile did it have?
  • Was the carpet the right kind of carpet for this kind of walkway or hallway? Was it made for heavy traffic areas? Was it appropriate for use indoors or out?
  • Was there any need of repair for the hallway or walkway flooring in the past few months prior to the accident? If so, who did the repair? Get their name and address to check on why the repair was needed and what was done.
  • Was the floor painted? What kind of paint was used? Was it slip resistant paint?
  • How about the condition of the floor itself. Was it free of any cracks or holes?
  • Did the flooring have any slopes or depressions?

2. Floor Finishes of the Walkway or Hallway

How a floor is kept up and maintained is critical to safety. This is especially true for walkways and hallways since they are considered to be high-traffic areas. A floor’s finish must be ready to handle lots of foot traffic over a long period of time.

Here, slip resistant materials are vital, as are the need to keep these areas free from hazards and obstacles at all times. Those personnel who are given the job of policing the hallways and walkways to make sure they are safe need to be trained and aware of the dangers inherent in loose trash on the floor, or what looks to be an innocent puddle after a rain storm.

  • What is the coefficient of friction for the floor surface? Does it mean the federal standard of 0.5 or higher?
  • Was there wax on the floor of the walkway or hallway at the time of the accident?
  • Who applied the wax? How thick or thin was the coating?
  • Was there a warning sign that the floor had been freshly waxed?
  • Were the floors of the walkway or hallway buffed to a high sheen? Was the nonslip still wet when the accident happened?
  • Who waxed the floor where the slip and fall occurred?
  • Did they use a mop that was not oiled on a waxed floor?
  • Were they trained in how to clean the floors so that they knew how to properly clean and finish the floors to minimize slipping?
  • Were they knowledgeable in the floor treatments that were being used on the floors at the time of the accident?

3. Handrails

Whenever a customer is faced with three or more steps up or down, then it is reasonable to expect that they will be provided with a handrail for support. These handrails may also be important in long hallways and public walkways for ease of use. Many hallways and walkways provide handrails to assist their customers.

  • Did the walkway or hallway have a handrail?
  • What materials were used to make the handrail? What materials were used to affix the handrail to the wall of the walkway or hallway?Do the handrails start at a minimum of 18 inches before the walkway or hallway begins to rise (elevation)?
  • Do the handrails end at a minimum of 18 inches after the walkway or hallway no long rises (end of elevation)?
  • How solid were the handrails attached to the walls at the time of the accident? Were they wobbly? Were they loose?
  • Were they painted or otherwise visually noticeable? Could you easily spot that there was a handrail provided for your use?

4. Railings

Railings are vital to a passageway that opens to a danger, particularly if the walkway or hallway opens to floors below (like a multi-level shopping center or condo tower as two examples). All too often, railings are taken for granted by businesses as they inspect their property for slip and fall dangers.

  • Did the walkway or hallway have a railing?
  • What materials were used to make the railing? What materials were used to affix the railing to the wall of the walkway or hallway?
  • How solid were the railings attached to the walls at the time of the accident? Were they wobbly? Were they loose?

5. Lighting

Dark hallways and walkways are invitations to a slip and fall accident. Visibility in a public passageway is vital. After an accident, the amount of direct and indirect light, as well as glare must be considered as contributing to a slip and fall injury.

  • What kind of lighting was provided in the hallway or walkway? Were all the lights functioning properly?
  • At the time of the accident, was the lighting adequate in the hallway or walkway? Sometimes, aesthetic design in a hotel or restaurant may call for low lights, but that low lighting can invite a slip and fall accident.
  • Where were the lights located? Were they positioned so they didn’t blind you as you looked around at your surroundings?

6. Floor Mats, Trash Cans And Other Materials

Rugs, floor mats, plants in pots, sculptures, chairs, standing signs, trash bins, and many other things can be found in public walkways and hallways. These must be considered by the business when evaluating the safety of their hallways and walkways. Rugs and mats should be in good shape and lie flat on the floor. They should have a slip-resistant backing. Trash or debris on a walkway or hallway should be immediately removed. All too often, it’s not the structure of the walkway or hallway but other materials that are the cause of a slip and fall accident.

  • What materials were located in the hallway or walkway at the time of your accident? Did they impede your movement?
  • Was the hallway or walkway congested at the time of the accident? How?
  • Were there obstructions in the hallway or walkway at the time of the accident? What were they?
  • Were there any wires or electrical cords lose or on the floor of the hallway or walkway at the time of the accident?
  • Were there any cover plates on the floor the hallway or walkway at the time of the accident? Were they properly installed? Were they loose?
  • Were there any rugs or mats in the hallway or walkway at the time of the fall? What kind were they? Were they frayed or torn? Did their corners turn up with age? Did they have any backing or anti-slip materials to protect against falls?

Do You Have a Claim?

For victims of a hallway or walkaway slip and fall (or trip and fall) accident here in South Florida, it’s important that they understand the obligations a business or property owner has to keep its invitees safe. Knowing what an insurance company believes to be reasonable behavior can be helpful in proving the tortfeasor was negligent and convincing an insurance to pay a claim.

It’s possible for a victim to proceed on their own with their claim. However, an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer can help with issues like how an insurance company usually approaches a slip and fall claim or how to deal with reimbursing the victim’s medical insurance, medicaid or other health care providers.

A good piece of advice if you or a loved one has been injured in a walkway slip and fall, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions..

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.
 
 
 
 

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Why is it hard to get a settlement in a rear end car accident claim?

Posted By on August 16, 2016

In this video, Alan Sackrin answers a question that he has been asked many times before by clients and visitors to this site. If you have questions after watching the video, Alan is available to talk with you now and answer your questions free of charge:

Q: Why is it hard to get a settlement in a rear end car accident claim?

A: Rear end accident claims in Florida are the most common types of personal injury cases. Many times those cases settle rather quickly. However, many times it is also difficult to settle those cases. Those cases that are difficult to settle involve situations where there is very little property damage to either of the vehicles involved or where there’s a low-speed impact, many times the collision will occur when the vehicle is traveling about 5 miles per hour.

    Also, in most of those cases, the injury claimed is neck or back injuries which are difficult to prove as permanent. In order to recover money for pain and suffering in a Florida automobile negligence case, you must prove that you have a permanent injury. Permanent injuries to necks and backs are oftentimes very, very difficult to prove, even if there’s findings on x-rays and on MRIs because oftentimes it is difficult for a physician to say whether or not the accident caused the changes that are seen on the MRIs or whether those changes are preexisting.

Related:

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

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Do you need a physical injury to recover emotional distress damages?

Posted By on August 9, 2016

In this video, Alan Sackrin answers a question that he has been asked many times before by clients and visitors to this site. If you have questions after watching the video, Alan is available to talk with you now and answer your questions free of charge:

Q: Do you need a physical injury to recover emotional distress damages?

A: In most personal injury cases in Florida, you do need to sustain a physical injury in order to recover emotional distress damages. In car accidents, in slip-and-fall accidents, if you were not injured, you cannot recover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and mental anguish. This is to avoid frivolous type claims or speculative type claims. Now, however, in a defamation type of a lawsuit, where the person who defames you wants to humiliate you and the intent is to cause mental anguish in many instances, in defamation cases, you can recover for your mental anguish despite the fact that there is no physical injury.

Related:

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

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