Lake City Slip & Fall Lawyer
Every year, about eight million Americans visit hospital emergency rooms after a slip-and-fall incident. That number far outpaces the number of car crashes and other unintentional injuries. Many slip-and-fall victims are either young children or older adults. These age groups are the ones most vulnerable to serious injury. If the property owner was negligent, substantial compensation may be available.
The diligent Lake City slip & fall lawyers at Douglas & Carter work hard to obtain the compensation you deserve, as well as the justice you deserve. Since the victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in slip-and-fall claims, we start by collecting evidence on your behalf. In our experience, more evidence usually means a higher damage award. Then, we work to resolve your claim as quickly as possible without compromising your rights to the compensation you deserve.
Duty in Florida Slip and Fall Cases
All negligence cases, including premises liability cases, begin with the legal duty one person owes to another one. Generally, this duty is similar to the Golden Rule (“do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) which Florida schoolchildren once had to memorize. In the premises liability context, the legal duty depends on the relationship between the landowner and the injury victim:
- Duty of Reasonable Care: Most victims go to grocery stores and other commercial establishments to spend money, and most people go to another person’s house for social reasons. If the landowner benefited from the victim’s presence, either economically or noneconomically, the owner usually has a duty of reasonable care.
- Duty to Warn: Sometimes, the victim had permission to be on the land but that presence did not benefit the owner. For example, a child might cut through a business parking lot in the way to school. In situations like these, the owner must warn about any latent (hidden) defects.
- No Duty: A few instances involve no permission and no benefit. If the victim was a trespasser, the owner generally owes no duty. The stories of injured burglars who sue honest homeowners are nearly always urban myths.
There are some exceptions to the trespasser rule. One is the attractive nuisance doctrine, which normally applies to child victims. Another is the frequent trespasser rule, which the Florida legislature has significantly scaled back.
Establishing Cause in Lake City Slip and Fall Claims
Next, the victim must establish a connection between the dangerous condition, such as a wet spot on the floor, with the injury sustained.
Typically, direct evidence of cause is available. Since the burden of proof is low in civil court, the victim’s own testimony is usually sufficient. If an eyewitness also saw the fall or a surveillance camera captured the incident on video, that’s even better.
Sometimes, direct evidence is unavailable. Perhaps the room was dark or the victim lost consciousness. In these instances, Florida’s res ipsa loquitur doctrine may apply. Cause is established as a matter of law if the incident probably involved negligence and the landowner controlled the hazard.
Did the Lake City Defendant Know About the Hazard?
Finally, victim/plaintiffs must establish knowledge. Once again, both direct evidence of actual knowledge or circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known) are admissible.
Direct evidence may be a “smoking gun” like surveillance video footage or a repair estimate. Circumstantial evidence usually involves the time/notice rule. If the hazard existed for a long time, constructive knowledge usually attaches.
Contact Assertive Slip & Fall Lawyers
Slip and fall victims may be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lake City, contact Douglas & Carter. Home and hospital visits are available.