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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30 Questions to Ask After an Entryway Slip and Fall

Posted By on August 4, 2016

When you are hurt in a fall at a business location or on any kind of commercial property (i.e. a restaurant, a movie theater, a grocery store, a big box store, the bank, your child’s school, a car dealership, the local pizza joint, etc.), then you may have a “slip and fall” claim against those who own and/or operate that business and those who are responsible for keeping the premises safe for customers, clients, patrons, and guests.

The minute you cross their property line, that business has a duty of care to keep you safe from harm. If someone falls in the entryway because the business failed, for example, to have a mat on the floor when it was raining outside or the mat was old and worn, then that business may be legally liable for compensating a victim for their resulting injuries.

In Florida, there are many types and styles of entryways where a slip and fall can occur; plush lobbies that welcome hotel guests or patrons of the many restaurants; movie lobbies; dentists’ offices and doctors’ clinics will have entryways, too, as do many other establishments we visit during our daily lives: entries to the supermarket; the school’s administrative offices; the shopping mall.

 

Doral-on-the-Ocean (restored)

Entryways should be inviting — and safe.


 

Businesses Owe a Duty of Car To Their Invitees

This isn’t news to business – that customers are owed a duty of care; it is part of the responsibility of doing business. Most business owners have premises liability insurance policies to cover them for any liability resulting from their negligent actions or inactions.

A slip and fall accident in an entryway is something that the business has foreseen and must try to prevent from them from occurring.

Under Florida’s “premises liability law,” any business that invites people onto its property has a duty to take reasonable steps to keep its customers safe from harm while on the premises. If the business establishment fails to meet this duty of care to the customer, it can be considered “negligent” and legally liable for all the financial and non-financial damages suffered by the accident victim.

Enter the insurance company. Because there are laws in place that make the businesses liable for injuries resulting from falls if the business was negligent, there are liability insurance policies available to cover that risk.

Insurance Companies Helping Their Business Customers

As insurance companies pay accident victims by way of a settlement or a trial, it is the insurance company’s money that is at risk. Thus, insurance companies work with their policyholders to educate them on what preventative measures could be taken to avoid or lessen the risk of an injury resulting from negligence of the business establishment.

For slip and fall accident victims, this means a review of the online “risk manuals” compiled by these business insurers can be very helpful in assessing their accident and injuries and determining whether there is a likelihood of obtaining a settlement. Again, if the business failed to act as a reasonable and prudent business at the time of the accident, then it can be held liable for its negligence and required to compensate the victim for his or her injuries. This does not mean that the business operator is liable for every incident resulting in injury which occurs on the premises.

Insurance Company Risk Manuals

If you are hurt from falling down in an entryway to a business in South Florida, then do you have a negligence/ premises liability claim against those who own the property or operate that business? The answer is a “definite” MAYBE. If the business failed to take reasonable precautions to keep one safe, then there is an argument that there was negligence.

And the risk manuals provided by their insurance carriers can help you here (like these: Traveler’s – 1; Traveler’s – 2; Zurich; and Chubb).

For instance, from Zurich, comes the following warning to its policyholders: slip and fall accidents make up 14% of the total claims that Zurich has to pay on business premises accident claims. For this reason, Zurich works with its customers to try and prevent these slip and fall (and trip and fall) accidents from happening in the first place.

Zurich considers its risk plan a “comprehensive program” designed to “address the problem from all angles”. Read more in its “Risk Management Guide To Slips, Trips And Falls.” (Note: that comprehensive plan also includes how to deal with a claim after the accident has happened to try and limit exposure and financial liability.)

Did the Business Act Reasonably In Trying To Prevent Your  Entryway Slip and Fall?

In reviewing these risk manuals online, as well as others, here are some questions that a victim of an entryway slip and fall accident at a South Florida business may want to consider (and bring to the attention of the insurance adjuster when trying to convince him or her their policy holder was negligent):

  1. Where did you fall, was it before you entered the building’s interior? If so, was the entryway providing you protection from bad weather — like rain or hail? Was there an awning or a roof-line to help protect against bad weather?
  2. How many entries were provided by the business? Were they all available to you or were some blocked off from use? If so, why?
  3. Was it raining, or had it rained recently, at the time of your accident in the entryway? Did you have an umbrella at the time? Was it open or shut? Did the business provide customers with a place to shake out or store a wet umbrella?
  4. What about the flooring of the entryway, what was it made of? Was it a floor surface that was prone to being slippery when it rained, like marble or linoleum? Were there any protections against slipping on a wet floor, like slip-resistant materials for the entryway, or maybe grooving or texturing of the floor’s surface?
  5. What about floor mats? Where there any floor mats on the entryway at the time of your accident?
  6. If so, where were they? What condition were they in — were they raggedy or new, did the ends lay flat on the floor or did the corners roll up?
  7. Did you slip on the floor mat? Why? How?
  8. Were there any warning signs that the floor was wet or slippery at the time of your accident?
  9. Were there any holes in the floor of the entryway? Were there any cracks or broken tiles?
  10. What about drainage for the entryway, was there any kind of grid or grate to allow for draining off of liquids like standing rain water or puddles?
  11. How often did employees come to clean the entryway? What was their standard operating procedure here? Did they try and mop and sweep during times when there was low foot traffic in the entryway?
  12. What documentation was provided to the employees on keeping the entryway clean and neat? You need to read this and maybe ask for a copy.
  13. Is the entire entry covered in carpet? If not, what other materials are used: marble, wood, concrete, vinyl? Why was this design chosen? Bad design of the entryway can result in a dangerous condition and an invitation to slip and fall accidents, even if the designer believes the concept is beautiful or trendy.
  14. If the entire entryway is carpeted, then was the carpet fully laid down, or were they bumps or waves in it? Did it have fraying edges or gaps or threadbare sections where heavy foot traffic had taken its toll on the carpet nap?
  15. Have there been other accidents where people have fallen in the entryway? What measures were taken by the business to try and keep future accidents from happening after that?
    What about handrails? Were there any in the entryway?
  16. If so, where were these handrails? Were they securely fastened to the wall? Were they at the proper height so someone could easily grasp them as they walked along? What was the condition of the handrails at the time of the slip and fall: were they secure on the wall, were they slippery from over-use or from sticky hands?
  17. What about the lighting? Was it hard to see where you were going in the entryway? Were there light fixtures with burnt out bulbs?
  18. Did the design of the entryway create a romantic ambiance that resulted in a dangerous condition where you couldn’t see to safely walk across it?
  19. How often is the place mopped and swept? Did you trip and fall over trash or debris (leaves, etc.) in the entryway?
  20. When was the last time that someone worked on repairing or maintaining the entryway? Who were the contractors involved here? Get their names and addresses. Did they make any suggestions to the owner or operator on how to make the entryway safer? Were these suggestions followed?
  21. If it was raining, did the business put out special absorbent mats designed to help collect the rain water and keep the entryway from becoming slippery from rain water collecting on its surface?
  22. If so, were these absorbent mats designed for this purpose or just something the business pulled out in a pinch, like throw rugs or towels? Did these absorbent mats have drainage holes to allow the rain water to move out of the traffic path?
  23. Were these absorbent mats at least 6 feet long, the minimum industry standard for absorbent mats to be able to dry footwear?
    Did these absorbent mats lie flat? Did you trip and fall on the mat?
  24. If the entryway is made of a variety of materials, then how do they transition? Is it a smooth surface, carpet to tile, etc.? Is there a gap where a heel or the tip of a cane could get caught and cause a fall?
  25. Is there an uneven foot surface? Can you see where the transition happens, or is it hard to determine when you will leave a carpeted area and start walking on a more slippery concrete or tile floor?
  26. Does the entryway have stairs? Is there a ramp alternative? If not, is the business failing to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act?
  27. What was the condition of the stairs to the entryway, were they in good repair and condition? Were they weak or rickety? Did you fall on the entryway stairs?
  28. Was any entryway stair surface wet from rain, or oil, or a spilled drink or liquid? Did you slip on that wet stair?
  29. Was there any warning to avoid using the entryway stairs because they were in need or repair or because of a wet surface?
  30. What was the condition of the stair rails to the entryway stairs or steps? Was it broken or flawed? Did it contribute to your fall?

Insurance companies advise their policy holders to take steps to protect against these kinds of slip and fall accidents, and the entryway should be safe for customers even if there is a sudden Florida rain storm. Policy holders are advised to do things like “…maintain your property and buildings to reduce potential slip, trip and fall hazards. All flooring surfaces should be well maintained at all times. Areas such as walkways, aisles, and passageways are of special concern due to the high volume of traffic they receive.”

Given the circumstances surrounding your slip and fall accident in the business’ entryway, do you believe that they complied with these warnings given by this insurer? If not, then can you document with facts and evidence that the business has failed to act reasonably in trying to prevent your fall in their entryway?

Do You Have a Slip and Fall Accident Damages Claim Against a Business for a Fall in its Entryway?

If you or a loved one have been the victim of a slip and fall accident that happened in the entryway of a business 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 personal injury lawyer.

If the business failed to act reasonably to prevent your slip and fall, it can be found negligent under Florida premises liability law and legally liable to pay the damages that have resulted from your slip and fall accident, including pain and suffering, medical costs, lost wages, and more.

A good piece of advice if you or a loved one has been injured in a 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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In a slip and fall case can you infer the grocery store had knowledge of the substance on the floor?

Posted By on August 2, 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: In a slip and fall case can you infer the grocery store had knowledge of the substance on the floor?

A: In a slip and fall case in Florida the fact that there is a transitory or foreign liquid substance on the floor that you slip on, you cannot infer that the grocery store knew about it and was therefore negligent. There is no inference of negligence in most cases just by the fact that there is a liquid substance, or a foreign substance, on the floor of a grocery store. You must prove that somehow the grocery store knew about the condition, or should have known about the condition by the fact that, perhaps it was there for a certain period of time. Sometimes that could be proven by in store surveillance, sometimes that could be proven by the fact that the condition itself may look dirty, may look warn, like it was there for some period of time, but you cannot infer negligence. You do not win your case simply because you slip on a liquid substance on the floor of a grocery store.

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 Know If A Driver Acted Reasonably In Trying To Prevent a Pedestrian Accident?

Posted By on July 28, 2016

In Florida, car accidents where someone on foot is hit by a moving vehicle (i.e. a “pedestrian accident”) usually come with an assumption that the driver of the motor vehicle is to blame for the accident. After all, he or she was driving a heavy machine (a dangerous instrumentality), while the accident victim was there on the street or sidewalk, or in the parking lot, with no protection from harm as they were walking or jogging and going about their day.

Insurance companies recognize that Florida as well as other states have a lot of case law as well as municipal and state traffic laws that suggest that the driver is presumed to be at fault in a pedestrian accident. And often this is true — the driver will be to blame for hitting the person on foot.

However, this is not always true. The driver isn’t always to blame; sometimes, that blame lies with the pedestrian or a third party. As a victim, you cannot assume that the insurance company will not blame you for the accident as it evaluates your claim.

 

Children playing soccer

Reasonable drivers will be cautious when driving near soccer fields or playgrounds where a child might dart out into the street.


 

Are Most Pedestrian Accidents Considered Preventable by Insurers?

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration defines a “pedestrian accident” as “…any person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting, or lying down who is involved in a motor vehicle traffic crash.”

National General  (along with other insurers) defines a “preventable accident” as “one in which the driver failed to exercise every reasonable precaution to prevent the accident.”

Some insurance adjusters will process a pedestrian accident claim with the bias that the accident was preventable. Key here is the driver and whether or not he or she was driving as a reasonable driver at the time of the accident.

Was The Driver Acting in a Reasonable Manner?

Insurers evaluate the driver involved in the pedestrian accident to see if he or she was operating the motor vehicle in a defensive manner.

If the driver was not driving defensively, then the driver may be considered to not have been driving in a reasonable manner and therefore negligent under the law. Generally speaking, a victim is only entitled to recover damages if the at-fault driver was negligent (partly or otherwise).

What is a defensive driver?

National General finds that defensive drivers share the same characteristics:

  • Defensive drivers know the applicable driving laws;
  • Defensive drivers are aware of techniques to use that help them to drive safely (”safe driving strategies”);
  • Defensive drivers are aware of their surroundings as they drive;
  • Defensive drivers assess changes in the driving conditions (ocean fog rolls in, for instance);
  • Defensive drivers understand the dangers of hazards in their path and take action to avoid or minimize the risk;
  • Defensive drivers exercise sound judgment in choosing the safest action to minimize hazardous conditions and accident risks; and
  • Defensive drivers are skilled at driving and are able to implement their chosen driving course given the circumstances presented.

As a victim of a pedestrian accident, you may want to evaluate the at-fault driver against this criteria. As part of their risk analysis, insurance companies use these standards to evaluate drivers involved in these crashes and the resulting claims made by victims. If you can prove that the driver in your crash was not driving defensively, then this may help prove your position and get your claim paid.

Company Cars and Driving on the Job

Determining whether or not a driver acted reasonably in a pedestrian accident sometimes involves more than assessing his or her driving actions at or near to the time of the accident. There can be other factors that can complicate the situation in some pedestrian accidents; for instance, was the driver driving on the job? And was that driver driving a company vehicle?

Companies hire workers to do all sorts of tasks that require them to drive a vehicle. Sometimes its their own car or truck; sometimes, it’s a car, van, or truck provided by the employer. Insurance companies have lots to say to businesses that send employees out driving on Florida roads for work, insofar as limiting liability for accidents.

For instance, Secura Insurance has a “Fleet Safety Program Manual” published online that details strategies to reduce the risk of motor vehicle accidents involving business vehicles. So does Traveler’s Insurance (see its Sample Vehicle Safety Program for Non-Regulated Fleets).

Employers can and should expect drivers to drive with reasonable care and caution while on the job. And by researching the risk manuals and fleet safety plans of insurance companies, victims of pedestrian accidents can get a clearer picture of whether or not the driver in their accident was operating that vehicle reasonably at the time of wreck.

Evaluating Pedestrian Collisions for the Reasonableness of the Driver

Since pedestrians as a general rule have the right of way on Florida streets, roads, parking garages, and parking lots, etc., it is assumed that a pedestrian accident was preventable.

Still, Florida law does provide defenses to drivers where circumstances exist that a reasonable driver could not have avoided the crash. That might include a pedestrian doing something unreasonable herself, like chasing a ball into a road without bothering to look for an oncoming car.

Reasonable drivers are those that are on the lookout for pedestrians as they drive and when a pedestrian is spotted, the reasonable driver takes defensive measures and maneuvers to avoid hitting the person on foot.

31 Things to Consider When Determining if a Driver Acted Reasonably in a Pedestrian Accident?

Here are some questions for a victim of a pedestrian accident to consider (and to bring to the attention of the insurance adjuster) when evaluating whether or not a driver acted reasonably. These questions come from the risk assessment research compiled by insurance companies and industry researchers, including the online information provided by Traveler’s Insurance in their risk manual:

  1. How fast was the car going at the time of the accident?
  2. What was the speed limit at the place of the accident? Was the driver speeding over that limit?
  3. Did the driver know that pedestrians were present? Should the driver have known this was a possibility (I.e., near a playground, school zone, shopping mall, grocery store, etc.)?
  4. Did the driver proceed with caution in the area because there might be a risk of pedestrians being there?
  5. Did the driver slow down because there might be people walking on foot on or near his traffic path?
  6. Did the driver give pedestrians the right of way?
  7. Did the driver know of any minor children who were on foot and on or near his traffic path?
  8. Was the driver ready to stop if a child were to enter his traffic path?
  9. Was the driver looking for kids or other pedestrians who might not be aware of motor vehicle traffic (because they were on their phones or playing Pokemon Go, for instance)?
  10. What route was the driver taking that day? Was the driver accustomed to this route or was it new to him? Drivers should be more defensive on new routes where they may be unexpected dangers.
  11. Was it common for pedestrians to cross the street in the middle of the block on the street where the accident happened? If so, was the driver aware of this? (School kids leaving school for the day may cross mid-block, for instance.)
  12. Did he slow down accordingly?
  13. Where there any signs warning drivers of pedestrian traffic in the area? Pedestrian crossing signs are common near schools, shopping malls, and in some neighborhoods with lots of children.
  14. Did the driver reduce speed due to the pedestrian traffic sign’s warning?
  15. Did the driver know that he can voluntarily reduce speed to avoid the risk of pedestrian accidents even if there is no lowered speed limit sign or other warning?
  16. Did the driver need prescription lenses? Was he wearing them at the time?
  17. Was the driver distracted at any time near or at the time of the accident? Was there music playing in the car at the time of the pedestrian accident?
  18. Where there passengers in the car at the time of the pedestrian accident? What were they doing? Were they contributing to the danger of a crash by being loud, unruly, or distracting to the driver?
  19. Was the driver eating in the car at the time of the accident?
  20. Were there rear-view and side-view mirrors on the vehicle? Were they working properly?
  21. Were the brakes on the vehicle working properly?
  22. Were the tires properly inflated?
  23. Was the driver intoxicated or otherwise under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Drivers may have less reaction times and ability to assess danger on the road to drive reasonably and prevent a pedestrian accident if they are dosed with flu medicines (like NyQuil), allergy medications (like Benadryl), and other Over the Counter medication as well as the more sinister drugs like opioids and cocaine.
  24. How congested was the roadway at the time of the accident? Did the driver compensate for having to deal with heavy traffic as he drove through an area where pedestrians were near his traffic path?
  25. What was the weather like at the time of the accident? Was there a heavy rain, making it hard to see the traffic path? Was it a bright and sunny afternoon where glare might inhibit the driver’s ability to see a pedestrian in his traffic path?
  26. Was the driver wearing a seat belt? Was there a company policy that the driver should be wearing a seat belt while driving on the job? A reasonable driver will comply with company rules even if it wrinkles his suit.
  27. What are the company rules about having passengers in the vehicle? Is it allowed at all? Is it allowed during working hours?
  28. Was there a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the pedestrian accident? It is not reasonable for the driver to bring their kids or their friends along for the ride in a business vehicle, especially during working hours.
  29. Is there a business manual that tells drivers what company policies are that define reasonable driving of their company vehicle? Was this being followed at the time of the pedestrian accident?
  30. Was the driver operating someone else’s car at the time of the pedestrian accident? Did he have permission to do so?
  31. If the driver was driving someone else’s vehicle, was he familiar with how it works and capable of operating the vehicle safely? For instance, was it reasonable for the driver to be driving a large van if he had never done so before the day of the accident?

What Should You Do If You Are Involved in a Pedestrian Accident?

Most people involved in a pedestrian car accident assume that the driver is always the cause of the accident for failing to act in a reasonable manner.

However, there needs to be admissible evidence to support this assumption. The victim must prove the driver failed to act as a reasonable and prudent driver. Was the at-fault driver, in the terms of the insurance company, driving defensively?

A victim may need to provide witness statements, police reports, video, expert testimony, etc. to prove the driver was at fault, so the insurance company (and perhaps the coverage provided by his employer) will agree to accept liability and pay for the victim’s damages (pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, physical therapy costs, etc.).

A good piece of advice if you or a loved one has been injured as a pedestrian, 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.

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 do I need to prove in order to get a Florida slip and fall settlement?

Posted By on July 27, 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 do I need to prove in order to get a Florida slip and fall settlement?

A: In order to get a Florida slip and fall accident settlement, you must prove fault or negligence on part of the business establishment or the person you are suing and you also must prove that you have sustained injuries as a result of the fall. Proving fault or negligence on the part of the business establishment often times is a difficult thing to do. That’s why you need to hire a Florida bar board certified civil trial attorney to assist you because a lot of people think that just because they slip on the premises of a Home Depot or a Publix or a Wynn Dixie, that they’re automatically entitled to recover, that it’s the stores responsibility to make sure that there’s nothing on the floor 100% of the time. That’s just not the law in Florida.

     You must prove they did something wrong. For example, they knew about the condition on the floor and did nothing about it. Or that they should have known about the condition on the floor and did nothing about it. In addition to proving fault, you must prove that you sustained bodily injuries as a result of the accident. You prove bodily injuries by showing your medical records, by turning over your medical records, by turning over your medical bills. If there are lost wages by proving that you missed time from work through your employment records and through your tax returns and through the statements of other people who’ve known you for years that your life has been changed in certain respects as a result of the injuries you sustained in that slip and fall case. These are the thing you need to prove to get a reasonable slip and fall settlement in Florida.

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 Know If A Business Acted Reasonably In Trying To Prevent an Office Slip and Fall Accident?

Posted By on July 21, 2016

When you are injured at your job, then you may have coverage through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Worker’s Compensation insurance provides the injured worker with limited benefits for medical expenses and loss of wages, regardless of fault. For example, if you slip and fall at your place of employment while you are working, medical benefits and lost wages, pursuant to a formula, will be paid to the employee.

However, whether or not a slip and fall accident will be covered by the business’ LIABILITY insurance will depend upon whether or not the company is legally liable for what has happened to the injured person. Normally, an employee covered by workers’ compensation, is not entitled to sue the employer for negligence.

If a non-employee of the company slips and falls at your employer’s place of employment, that person is not entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits but may sue the employer for negligence. When is a business establishment negligent and how is it determined? A business is negligent if failed to act in a reasonable manner. Negligence can occur when a business does some act that a reasonably careful business would not do under similar circumstances or in not doing something that a reasonably careful business would do under similar circumstances.

Insurance companies and industry researchers study these office/premises slip and fall incidents with the goal of trying to assess the risk of injury and advise businesses what reasonable steps should be taken in order to avoid worker and customer slip and fall injuries. Risk manuals provided by Travelers Insurance to its policyholders as well as this advisory article in Safety and Health Magazine, a publication of the National Safety Council provide reasonable measures that businesses should take in order to minimize the chance of injuries.

Using their compilations as a guide, here are some issues and questions for you to consider as you evaluate what has happened in an office slip and fall accident:

 
Desk chair
 

1. Chairs Provided by the Company or Business

Chair safety is important and there are certain manufacturers that specialize in making chairs for use in industrial or business environments. They are designed for commercial use and while they may be elegantly designed, they have a different structure and make-up than many chairs that are available for sale for residential purposes.

If a chair was involved in your slip and fall accident, then you may want to investigate things involving chair safety issues.

  • Was the chair secure with five pedestals? Five pedestal chairs are less likely to tip or turn over.
  • What about the casters on that chair?
  • Did it have casters?
  • Are these the proper kind of caster for this chair?
  • Have these casters been removed or replaced?
  • Are they worn down?
  • Were they secure on the foot of the chair?
  • What about the footing for that chair, was it on carpeting, a loose rug, or a tile or wood floor? Different casters are designed to work best on different kinds of flooring.
  • Was the chair’s caster made to deal with a slippery tile floor or with a thick tapestry rug?
  • What about the base of the chair, what does it measure? Office chairs, to be safe, should be at least 20 inches in diameter.
  • What was the diameter of the chair that was involved in your slip and fall accident?
  • Did staff get any instructions on how to use the chair? Some chairs, like executive chairs that rise and lower or specialty chairs made to lessen back pain or shoulder strain, are made to move with levers into different positions.
  • Was the chair involved in your fall one of these types of chairs? If so, was it working properly? And were you instructed on how to use its devices properly?

Office Slip and Fall Accident at the Same Level

Falls happen in two ways: on one level, or from a higher spot to a lower one. Many office slip and fall accidents happen on a single level (while construction accidents, for example, are often at a different level as a worker falls from a ladder or scaffold.)

Where you were when the slip and fall accident happened in your office is important. Think about where you were and what was happening at the time, as well as where things were located around you immediately before you were hurt. Issues in a same level office slip and fall can include:

  • Objects that are inviting someone to trip and fall over them. Think about where the trash basket was located in your office, as well as any stacks of files, or file boxes, or other items. Were they positioned out of your foot path or in a spot where someone might trip over them?
  • Trash baskets, for example, should be kept under desks, in corners, or otherwise out of the line of traffic. Did someone empty that trash basket and fail to return it to its proper location?
  • What about the tables, desks, file cabinets, and office equipment (printers, printer stands, copiers, etc.) — where are they located?
  • Are they positioned so it is easy to maneuver around them?
  • Are they against walls, are there partitions to help the flow of foot traffic?
  • Do you find yourself having to squeeze by the printer stand? Did this contribute to your fall?
  • Is it business policy in your office to keep things tidy during the day?
  • Are there rules about keeping trash baskets out of the way and file cabinet drawers shut, and overhead cabinet doors closed?
  • Do employees obey these rules?
  • What about electrical cords and power cords to computers, phones, and other equipment. How are they organized?
  • Are computer and phone cords loose on the floor or are they gathered in clips and contained behind desks?
  • Is it a hazard to have to walk down the hall or through the office because of loose equipment electrical cords on the floor?
  • What about extension cords – are they used? Why? How are they taped or otherwise held down (rubber channels, etc.) to protect against someone tripping over them?
  • What about electrical outlets, where are they? Are they easy to locate and use, or are they in strange spots in the wall or floor?
  • Are they placed in a way that invites a tripping hazard as equipment and machines are plugged into these outlets?

Storage

What about storing necessities and office materials? Where is this done?

  • Is there a storage room? Are there enough storage cabinets and drawers for employees to use?
  • If not, are workers forced to store file boxes, folders, books, inventory, etc., in halls or around desks, and around conference tables?
  • Does this invite someone to trip and fall or slip and fall as a hazard?
  • What about the filing system? Are file boxes used?
  • Where are they kept? If a file box is being used in the course of the workday, where is it placed?
  • What about the box top? Boxes in hallways can cause a trip and fall. A loose cardboard box top can result in a serious slip and fall injury.

Spills

Things happen, and in every office there is going to be the periodic cup of spilled coffee or the tipped over glass of soda. When that happens, what is office procedure?

  • Has there been any rule established for these spills?
  • Have employees been formally instructed on steps to take when something is spilled?
  • Are there signs available to mark a wet floor (”Caution – Wet Floor”)?
  • Are employees told where mops can be found, or wipes to clean up the spill?
  • Is there staff assigned to do these chores? What are their instructions?

Office Floor Hazards

  • How often is the office floor cleaned or vacuumed? Who does this?
  • What about things like paper clips or rubber bands and other small office items that might cause someone (especially a woman wearing high heels) to lose her footing and fall — are these promptly picked up or are they left there as a hazard for days at a time?
  • What about the flooring at office entrances and exits, is it made to protect against the elements? Entries need to have protections against puddles caused by rain, for instance. If the flooring is tile or wood, then protective rugs or slip-resistant material needs to be placed here. Additionally, any traffic paths where workers may carry rain water into the work area need to be protected, as well. If the lobby has a marble floor, it may look beautiful but wet marble is inviting a serious fall accident and the company should protect workers with rugs, carpeting, etc. Here.

Blind Spots

Sometimes, workers simply run into each other during a busy day and a fall accident results. Collisions in a hallway do happen, which is why the National Safety Council supports offices having convex mirrors (those big, round mirrors that are installed up in the corners) at hallway intersections — particularly in areas where there is a lot of foot traffic and where workers may well be walking while carrying files, computers, books, etc.

  • If your fall was the result of a collision, were you able to see where you were going at the time of the accident?
  • What about the person with whom you collided: were you in his or her blind spot?

Falls from a Higher Level

There are times when an office slip and fall is the result of someone falling from a higher level to a lower one. These usually result in more serious injuries than those where the fall is on the same level.

  • If employees need to use a ladder (say a step-ladder) during the course of a day, who provided it and was it checked to make sure it was the proper kind of ladder for this intended use?
  • What about the ladder’s feet – do they have any kind of slip-resistant material on them?
  • Are there brakes or other devices on the ladder that keep it secure and steady as someone climbs its steps? Were they working properly?
  • Is there a warning on the ladder about not going past the highest safe stepping level (the safety step)?
  • Was the ladder placed on level ground before the accident victim climbed onto the ladder?
  • Was the ladder fully opened before the person stepped onto it?
  • If the fall happened because someone tried to climb up on a desk or conference table to reach something, then was that something reasonable to think might happen in the office? Were employees instructed on how this could be dangerous?
  • Were there any policies or procedures that warned workers NOT to climb on desks or tables, etc.?
  • What about someone using an office chair to reach for something — climbing on a chair is a common office slip and fall scenario. This is an especially serious danger when someone tries to stand on a rolling desk chair to get something out of reach, and thinks it won’t be a problem. Those wheels can easily move and a serious fall will result.

Worker Education and Training Manuals

Companies should prepare their employees not only for their specific work assignments but also for their work environment. Failure to educate and train employees and staff in workplace safety can result in serious liability for the business if a slip and fall accident happens on their premises.

  • Does the company have training in place for its cleaning crew?
  • Does it hire a third party company to take care of cleaning the office space?
  • How was this company vetted?
  • What training is provided to employees on maintaining a safe environment during the day?
  • Are workers instructed, for example, not to leave lower level filing cabinet drawers open because this is a fall hazard?
  • Are employees trained on what to do if they need to get something out of reach, including where a stepladder can be located and how it is to be properly used?

Do You Have an Accident Damages Claim For an Office Slip and Fall?

If you work in an office environment here in Florida and were hurt on the job in a slip and fall accident, then you may need to determine if the business or company who is responsible for the office is liable for what has happened to you.

Under Florida premises liability law, that business may be responsible for covering damages that have been the result of your accident, including not only your medical costs but your lost wages due to an inability to work, etc. An experienced Florida personal injury lawyer can be very helpful here, especially since our premises liability statute places a rather unique burden of proof on the accident victim.

A good piece of advice if you or a loved one has been injured in an office 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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How do statute of limitations work?

Posted By on July 19, 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 statute of limitations work?

A: Statutes of limitations are statutes prepared by the legislatures of each state that puts a limit on how long between the time of an accident, or the time of an event, and the time you can file a lawsuit. So for example, if you’re in an accident in Florida on January 3rd, 2013 you have 4 years in Florida to file a lawsuit. So you have until January 3rd 2017 in which to just file a complaint in court. The case does not have to be over in 4 years, it has to be begun in 4 years. And in Florida a lawsuit is begun just by the filing of a complaint. The defendant doesn’t even have to know that the complaint’s been filed so long you have filed it.

     Now for different types of accidents, or different types of incidents, there’s different statutes of limitations. Generally in car accidents and slip and fall accidents where somebody does not die, there’s a 4 year statute of limitations. In wrongful death cases there’s a 2 year statute of limitations. If a case has not been filed within the statute of limitations and filed subsequently thereafter, the defendant will be entitled to have the case dismissed and you lose your right to obtain compensation- at least from the at fault driver. You would then go after your attorney for legal malpractice.

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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