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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

Florida personal injury lawyers



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    Steps to Take When Injured in a Public Place in Florida: Your Legal Rights

    Personal injuries can occur unexpectedly, and when they happen in a public place, it’s crucial to know your legal rights and the appropriate steps to take.

    Typical incident types include slips and falls, trips and falls, falling debris, and even more severe incidents like sexual assaults and shootings.

    • Slips and falls often occur due to wet floors, loose rugs, or uneven surfaces and can lead to injuries such as sprained ankles, broken hips, and wrist fractures.
    • Trips and falls might be caused by uneven pavement, cluttered walkways, or poorly maintained stairs, resulting in injuries like cuts, bruises, broken bones, and dislocated joints.
    • Falling debris, such as items falling from shelves, construction materials, or loose signage, can cause head injuries, concussions, and lacerations.
    • Violent incidents such as shootings can also occur in public places, leading to life-threatening injuries, psychological trauma, and extensive medical treatments.

    Premises injuries can result in significant medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs.

    In Florida, personal injury laws are designed to protect you, but navigating them can be complex. Here’s what to do if you are injured in a public place.

    1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention

    Seek medical attention immediately, even if the injury seems minor. Some injuries might not manifest symptoms immediately, and a medical professional can accurately diagnose and document your condition. Be sure to keep all medical records and receipts as they will be vital to your claim.

    2. Report the Incident

    Notify the property owner, manager, or responsible authority about the incident. If the injury occurred in a store, restaurant, or other commercial establishments, ask for the manager and fill out an incident report. Obtain a copy of this report for your records.

    3. Document the Scene and Collect Evidence

    Gather as much evidence as possible from the scene of the accident.

    This includes:

    • Taking photographs or videos of the location, including any hazards that contributed to your injury.
    • Collecting contact information from any witnesses who saw the incident.
    • Noting the date, time, and exact location of the accident.

    4. Preserve Physical Evidence

    If any objects were involved in your injury (like a broken step or loose flooring), take photographs and, if possible, keep the items. Physical evidence can be crucial in proving the cause of your injury.

    Examples of such items include:

    • Broken pieces of flooring, such as tiles or carpet.
    • Defective handrails or any detached parts.
    • Loose pavement or concrete chunks.
    • Foreign objects like merchandise or debris.
    • Samples of spilled substances like water or oil.
    • Damaged merchandise that caused the injury.
    • Loose signage or decorations.
    • Loose or damaged fixtures like light fixtures or shelves.

    5. Avoid Giving Detailed Statements

    Be cautious about giving detailed statements to the property owner, insurance companies, or other parties involved.

    Stick to the facts and avoid speculating about the cause of the accident or your injuries. Anything you say could be used against you later.

    6. Consult a Personal Injury Attorney

    Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights, assess the strength of your case, and guide you through the legal process.

    In Florida, personal injury laws can be intricate, and having professional legal assistance can significantly improve your chances of receiving fair compensation.

    7. File a Claim

    Your attorney will help you file a personal injury claim. In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for personal injury has been reduced from four years to two years from the accident date. While two years may seem like plenty of time, it is smart to act quickly while the evidence is fresh and the witnesses’ memories are clear.

    8. Understand Comparative Negligence

    Florida follows a comparative negligence rule, which means your compensation could be reduced if you are found partially at fault for the accident. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 but found to be 20% at fault, your compensation will be reduced to $80,000. Your attorney can help you navigate this aspect of the law to ensure you receive the maximum possible compensation. In 2023 the law in Florida was changed in a way that does not help victims.  If the injured party is found to be over 50% at fault, they cannot recover anything.

    9. Keep Detailed Records

    Maintain detailed records of all related expenses, including medical bills, lost wages, travel costs for medical appointments, and any other out-of-pocket expenses. These records will be crucial in determining the value of your claim.

    10. Follow Through with Medical Treatment

    Adhering to your doctor’s treatment plan is vital. Not only does it help in your recovery, but it also demonstrates the seriousness of your injuries, which is important for your claim.

    Being injured in a public place can be overwhelming, but understanding your legal rights and following the appropriate steps can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. John Leighton, a board-certified personal injury attorney, is dedicated to helping you navigate the complexities of personal injury claims and securing the compensation you deserve. All of the lawyers at Leighton Panoff Law are recognized by Florida SuperLawyers and have been helping people inured by the negligence of others for decades.

    If you have been injured in a public place in Florida, contact us today for a free consultation.

    Article by:

    John Leighton

    A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite


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