Dangerous surface conditions contribute to cause more than one million Americans to slip and fall each year. Although some people think of slip and fall accidents as the grounds for “frivolous” lawsuits in the United States, these preventable situations present very serious dangers. The federal government estimates that approximately 20,000 of the one million Americans involved in slip and fall accidents die each year. In fact, falls account for about 15% of fatal workplace accidents and 15% of workers’ compensation costs.
The most vulnerable Americans are the ones typically injured in slip and fall accidents. According to a study from the American Association of Retired Persons, two-thirds of accidents involving adults over 65 are slip and fall accidents. Slip and fall accidents for the elderly can have catastrophic consequences. An older adult dies nearly every hour from such accidents. Even in non-fatal instances, these accidents can result in broken bones and a lifetime of pain. If you or a family member has suffered an injury in a slip and fall accident, an Orlando personal injury attorney may be able to help you obtain compensation for injuries and medical bills.
Slip-and-Fall Liability Law in Florida
The law for slip and falls in Florida is changing rapidly. Previously, following a 2001 Florida Supreme Court decision, the existence of a foreign substance was enough to place liability on a defendant. However, a few weeks ago, the governor signed into law a state bill requiring knowledge of slip and fall conditions on the part of the defendant. The victim in Florida slip and fall lawsuits must now show:
- That the defendant had prior knowledge of the condition leading to the accident or should have had prior knowledge, and that the defendant could have done something about the condition, or
- That there was a recurring condition on the defendant’s property, such that the defendant could have expected an accident to occur eventually
Unsurprisingly, business and insurance companies heavily lobbied for the new law, which could make it more difficult for plaintiffs to receive compensation for their injuries in slip and fall accidents. Plaintiffs will now have to focus on demonstrating how the defendant knew or should have known about the unsafe conditions.
For example, if there is large puddle of water at the entrance of a business and someone is hurt in a slip and fall accident, that person will need to show one of several things in order to prevail in a lawsuit:
- that the business knew about the puddle and did not take any actions to clean it up,
- that the puddle always accumulated there, and the business did not take any actions to clean it up, or
- that, even if the business claims it was not aware of the puddle, the puddle had been there for hours and hours, so the business should have been aware of it