What Is the Average Settlement for a Slip and Fall Accident in Florida?
Settlement amounts vary based on a number of factors, including the severity of the injury, the impact of the injury on the victim’s life and livelihood, whether the victim shared any fault in the accident, and the specific details of the case.
Some slip-and-fall cases settle for a few thousand dollars, while others, particularly those involving severe injuries or clear liability, may result in settlements in the tens- or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s advisable for individuals involved in a slip and fall accident to consult with a personal injury lawyer who can provide guidance based on the specifics of their situation.
What Is a Florida Slip and Fall Accident?
A slip-and-fall accident occurs when someone slips, trips, or falls as a result of a hazard on someone else’s property. Hazards may include wet floors, broken stairway railings, cracks in a sidewalk, and any other object or poorly maintained area that causes another person, to lose their balance and hurt themselves. Owners of private homes, businesses, buildings, and outdoor areas accessible to the general public are potential defendants in a slip and fall case.
Slip and fall accidents are premises liability claims. As such, the legal basis for the claim is that the property owner has a duty of care toward anyone who visits the property. When the owner neglects to make the property safe for others, he breaches said duty. If that breach results in
someone’s injury, the owner is liable for damages.
According to Florida law, a property owner is held liable for slip and fall accidents if the victim proves that the owner knew or should have known about the hazard and failed to rectify it or adequately warn visitors. For instance, a grocery store has a duty of care to its customers. If one of them slips on a wet floor, the store is liable because it allowed its customer to be exposed to the hazard.
On the other hand, if the store placed warning signs around the wet area and the injured party ignored them, the store could assert that it complied with its duty of care by posting a notification of the hazard.
Also, Florida is a comparative negligence state. According to comparative negligence, the defendant and plaintiff are each assigned a percentage of fault. Fault can reside with one party or a court can split the fault between the parties. When the plaintiff is found partially at fault for his injury, his compensation is reduced by the percentage of the blame..
How Damages Are Calculated in a Florida Slip and Fall Claim
In a Florida slip-and-fall claim, determining damages depends on the economic and non-economic losses suffered by the victim.
Economic damages represent easily quantifiable financial losses incurred because of the accident. Often, medical bills form a significant portion of economic damages, accounting for hospitalization costs, ongoing medical treatment, rehabilitation, and any future medical expenses related to the injury.
Lost income also often accounts for a large portion of economic damages. If the injuries result in permanent disability or reduced capacity to work for long periods, lost income damages can rival or exceed medical damages Other economic damages may encompass out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident, such as transportation costs to medical appointments.
Non-economic damages cover intangible losses suffered by the victim, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, and loss of consortium.
Punitive damages rarely apply in personal injury cases. The personal injury cases center on compensating the victim rather than punishing a bad actor. But punitive damages could apply if the defendant engaged in some egregious, heinous action that harmed the plaintiff.
For instance, suppose Sarah suffered a slip-and-fall accident at a restaurant due to a spill not being cleaned up promptly. Her medical bills totaled $20,000, and she lost $5,000 in income during her recovery period. She also spent $500 on transport to medical appointments. This brings her total economic damages to $25,500.
The court also awards her non-economic damages. Considering her severe physical pain, emotional distress, and diminished ability to enjoy daily activities, the court awards $50,000 for pain and suffering and $20,000 for loss of enjoyment of life. Sarah’s total compensation amounts to $95,500 ($25,500 economic + $70,000 non-economic).
How Comparative Negligence Impacts Settlements and Awards in Florida Slip and Fall Claims
Florida operates under a system of pure comparative negligence, which means that a victim can recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit even if they are partly to blame for their injuries. However, the amount of damages that a victim can recover is reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if a victim is determined to be 20% at fault for her injuries, the court reduces damages by 20%.
Often, comparative negligence becomes a contentious issue in settlement negotiations or at trial. Attorneys on both sides typically proffer differing views of their client’s level of fault. The more the plaintiff’s lawyer can persuade a jury that his client has no or very limited fault, the higher an award his client receives.
Florida does not mandate a 51% bar rule, so litigants can receive damages even if a court finds them mostly at fault. A 51% bar rule prevents a plaintiff from recovering any damages if they are found to be 51% or more at fault for their injuries. In contrast, Florida allows a victim to recover damages even if they are 99% at fault, although their recovery would be reduced accordingly.
To illustrate the impact of comparative negligence on a settlement or award, consider this scenario: A jury awarded Sarah $100,000 in damages for a slip and fall accident. However, it also found that she was 20% responsible for the accident because she was texting while walking and didn’t notice the hazard. Her comparative negligence of 20% would reduce her total award by $20,000 (20% of $100,000), leaving her with $80,000.
Proving Slip and Fall Personal Injury Liability in Florida
Proving liability in a Florida slip and fall case requires following several crucial steps. Plaintiffs must demonstrate that the defendant had a duty of care, breached this duty, and the breach resulted in injuries leading to damages.
Establishing a Duty of Care
The first step is to establish that the defendant (usually the property owner) had a duty of care toward the victim. This means the defendant was legally obligated to keep their property safe and free from hazards. In a public place like a store or a restaurant, owners are expected to ensure the premises are safe for visitors or provide adequate warning of hazards.
However, property owners do not have a duty of care in all cases. For instance, a property owner may not have a duty of care to someone trespassing on his property because he has no way of knowing this person intended to come on the property or warn against hazards.
Demonstrating a Breach of Duty
Once a duty of care has been established, the next step is proving the defendant breached this duty. To prove this breach, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant knew or should have known about the hazard but failed to take appropriate steps to rectify it or warn visitors. Evidence such as surveillance footage, eyewitness testimonies, or maintenance logs can be helpful in proving a breach of duty.
Linking the Breach to the Injury
This pivotal step involves showing that the defendant’s breach of duty directly resulted in the slip and fall accident that caused the victim’s injuries. No link between the breach and the injury, no case. Often, medical reports, expert testimonies, and other forms of evidence can be used to establish this causation.
Finally, the victim needs to prove that he suffered actual damages as a result of the accident. No damages, no compensation. Damages can be economic, such as medical bills and lost wages, or non-economic, such as pain and suffering. The victim must present evidence like medical bills, pay stubs, or expert testimonies on their emotional trauma to substantiate these claims.
Example of Proving Liability in a Florida Slip and Fall Case
Suppose an individual slips and falls on a wet floor in a grocery store, causing a severe knee injury. If there were no signs warning of the wet floor, and the store staff knew about the spill, the store could be found liable for the individual’s injuries. Also, if the staff should have been aware of the spill but neglected to keep track of conditions in the store, then the business is also liable.
To win this case, the plaintiff would need to provide medical documentation proving their injuries and evidence of their expenses to secure compensation. Additionally, the plaintiff might have to counteract any claims by the store that he contributed to their fall, such as by ignoring a warning or running in the aisle.
Proving liability in a slip-and-fall case can be a complex process, requiring the expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney. Hiring a seasoned personal injury attorney, such as those at Rosen Injury Law, helps you navigate the legal system, prove liability, and collect damages from the liable party.
Your attorney guides you through the entire process, collects compelling evidence, establishes the property owner’s negligence, negotiates with insurance companies, and represents you in court. Engaging qualified legal counsel can make all the difference between dealing with your financial woes alone or receiving the compensation you deserve.
Contact Rosen Injury Law for a Free Consultation
Wondering if you have a slip-and-fall case? Then don’t hesitate to contact Rosen Injury Law. Their dedicated team of Florida personal injury lawyers is ready to help you secure the compensation you deserve.
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