If you get injured on someone else’s property in Florida, you may not know what to do. The first step you should take after getting hurt in a grocery store, Walmart, apartment complex, or other property is to contact an experienced premises liability lawyer.
You do not have to go through this alone. Attempting to handle a premises liability claim alone can be overwhelming. Insurance companies know this and often try to take advantage of you by offering a low settlement. With the help of a knowledgeable Florida premises liability attorney, you can level the playing field and ensure your rights are protected.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is an area of law that holds property owners and occupiers responsible for injuries on their premises. Property owners must keep their property safe and free from hazards. They must also take reasonable steps to prevent injuries to guests, visitors, and tenants. This is their duty of care, and Florida law holds many property owners strictly liable when they breach this duty.
Premises liability can apply to various properties, including commercial buildings, private residences, public spaces, VRBO vacation rentals, and government buildings. Some common examples of premises liability cases include slip and fall accidents, dog bites, inadequate security, and accidents caused by unsafe conditions on the property.
If someone is injured on a property due to a dangerous or unsafe condition, the owner or occupier may be responsible for any resulting damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, to hold a property owner liable, you and your Florida personal injury legal team must prove that their negligence caused your injuries. This is not easy and requires a law firm with considerable resources and experience handling premises liability cases.
Unsafe Conditions on Florida Properties
Property owners must keep their property safe and free from hazardous conditions. They must also warn guests and visitors of any hazards to prevent serious accidents before they occur. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.
Here are some examples of unsafe conditions that could lead to injuries on Florida properties:
- Slippery floors: Wet or oily floors are dangerous. To prevent injuries, property owners must place warning signs or mats at entryways to prevent people from slipping and falling.
- Inadequate lighting: Poorly lit areas can conceal hazards or create tripping hazards. This is especially true in stairwells, parking garages, and other areas with limited visibility.
- Broken or missing handrails: Handrails are essential safety features that can prevent falls on stairs, ramps, and other elevated surfaces. Property owners can be held liable for injuries that occur when they fail to fix broken handrails.
- Negligent security: Property owners must take security measures to protect visitors from foreseeable criminal acts. This includes ensuring that locks, gates, and other security systems are working correctly and that the property is well-lit.
- Hazardous substances: Dangerous chemicals, flammable materials, and other hazardous substances can pose a serious risk of injury if they are not safely stored or labeled correctly.
- Dog bites: Property owners can be liable for dog bites and other animal attacks. Florida does not have a “one free bite” rule. As such, dog owners are strictly liable for the damages their pet causes.
Who Is Responsible for My Injuries?
The potentially responsible parties for injuries on a property can vary depending on the circumstances of your case. However, here are some examples of who could be held responsible:
- Property owners: Property owners must maintain their premises and warn visitors of potential hazards. If a hazardous condition on the property causes injury, they may be held liable.
- Property occupiers: Tenants or lessees may also be responsible for accidents and injuries on the property. Their level of liability depends largely on the terms of their lease or rental agreement and their level of control over the property.
- Property managers: If a property management company fails to fix hazards or prevent hazardous conditions from forming, it can bear liability when an accident occurs.
- Contractors and maintenance companies: If a contractor or maintenance company caused your injury, they might share liability.
- Government entities: If a city or county owns and maintains the property, they can bear liability for injuries caused by dangerous conditions.
- Product manufacturers: If a defective product on the property caused your injury, such as a faulty handrail or elevator, the product’s manufacturer may be held liable.
Determining who is to blame for your accident and injuries is the key to collecting the compensation you need and deserve. An experienced Florida personal injury lawyer can investigate your accident to identify all liable parties.
First Steps To Take After Getting Hurt on Someone Else’s Property
If you get hurt on someone else’s property, you can take steps immediately to protect your rights to compensation.
Seek Medical Attention
The first thing you should do is seek medical attention for your broken bones, head trauma, or other injuries. The type of medical care will depend on the severity of your injury. This could mean you need to get an ambulance directly to a hospital, have a friend take you to an emergency room, or see your doctor later that day or the following. No matter how minor you might think your injury is, it is crucial to see a doctor. Often, the seriousness of an injury is not apparent at first, especially if you have suffered neck or back damage. Additionally, if there is a significant gap between the incident that caused your injury and the time you received medical treatment, you decrease your chances of prevailing in a personal injury lawsuit.
You should also gather evidence from the scene of the accident. This includes getting the names and contact information of anyone who saw you get hurt. Make sure they give you their phone numbers and email addresses. Eyewitness testimony regarding a dangerous condition is compelling evidence.
If you have a cellphone, you should take photographs of the area, including the lighting and condition of the floors. Pictures of hazardous conditions are helpful when preparing a lawsuit. They could also help witnesses recall what happened, especially if it takes months to get your case to trial.
In addition to the photographs, you should take notes of everything you can remember as quickly as possible before your memory fades. You should record things not necessarily shown in a photo, such as the time of day and people’s actions. Anything that could help prove you did not contribute to your injury should be noted.
File an Incident Report
If you were injured in a place of business, such as in a slip and fall accident in a grocery store, complete an accident or incident report with the manager. Most larger businesses, including supermarkets and chain box stores, require incident reports to be completed when a customer is injured. Do not leave the store without a copy of your report. In some cases, you should have a police report made. This documentation is valuable when your premises liability lawyer begins to build your case.
Do Not Make Statements or Talk to Insurers
Do not make any statements that would imply fault on your part. This could be as innocent as saying, “I wasn’t paying attention.” Also, do not mention your injury or any previous medical condition. A statement such as “I feel fine” could be used as a defense against liability.
Do not talk with an insurance company before consulting with our Florida premises liability attorneys. And never sign any documents from the insurance provider. The last thing you want to do is sign away your right to sue. Insurance adjusters want you to believe they have your best interests in mind. Remember, you do not have to sign any documents or consent to a settlement agreement. If the insurance company sends you a check and you deposit it, that could be considered accepting the settlement offer.
Next Step: Filing a Premises Liability Claim or a Lawsuit
A premises liability claim and a premises liability lawsuit are two different stages in the legal process of seeking compensation for injuries sustained on someone else’s property.
A premises liability claim is typically the first step in the process. It is a formal request to the property owner or their insurance company seeking compensation for your injuries. In a premises liability claim, you and your premises liability lawyer must provide evidence of the dangerous condition that caused the injury, such as photographs, witness statements, or medical records, and make a demand for compensation.
The property owner or their insurance company will then review the claim and decide whether to offer a settlement or deny the claim entirely. If a settlement is offered and accepted, the case is resolved. However, if the claim is denied or you cannot negotiate a fair settlement, you may choose to sue the property owner. This means filing a premises liability lawsuit.
A premises liability lawsuit is a formal legal action filed in court seeking compensation for injuries sustained on someone else’s property. If you successfully prove your case, the court may award you damages, including compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
How Long Do I Have to File a Premises Liability Claim or Lawsuit in Florida?
In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a premises liability claim or lawsuit is two years from the date of the injury. You have two years from the incident date to file a claim or lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries.
There are some exceptions to this general rule, however. For example, if the property owner is a government entity, you may have shorter deadlines and specific notice requirements to meet.
Speak with a Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the incident to ensure that your claim is filed within the appropriate timeframe. Failing to file within the statute of limitations can result in your claim being barred, meaning you may be unable to recover any compensation for your injuries.
Contact Our Florida Premises Liability Lawyers Today
If you or someone you love got hurt on someone else’s property, you must take action to protect your legal rights and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Filing a premises liability claim or lawsuit is complex; having an experienced Florida personal injury attorney on your side can make all the difference.
By calling Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA, you can receive a free consultation to discuss the details of your case and determine the best course of action. Our experienced premises liability attorneys will investigate your accident, gather evidence to support your claim, and negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
Don’t wait to take action – the clock is ticking on the statute of limitations for filing a claim in Florida. Contact our personal injury law firm today to get your free consultation and take the first step toward getting the compensation you deserve. Call our law offices today at (305) 694-2676 or fill out our contact form.