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What You Need to Know Before Hiring an Orlando Slip and Fall Lawyer

The National Floor Safety Institute says that more than 1 million U.S. hospital visits are related to slip and fall accidents, representing 12 percent of all emergency room visits associated with falls. Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of on-the-job injuries. According to the Florida Department of Health, falls are the leading cause of injury death among Florida residents ages 65 years and older and the fourth leading cause of injury death overall.

What Is a Slip and Fall Injury?

As the name implies, slip and fall injuries are the result of an accident where the victim has slipped and fallen. From a legal standpoint, slip and fall accident cases are a type of premises liability claim where compensation is sought from the negligent party.

A large portion of falls in Florida are due to wet, slippery floors and uneven surfaces such as improperly marked steps or uneven sidewalks. The most common places for slip and fall accidents include: homes, workplaces, amusement and theme parks, and public places such as malls, restaurants and grocery stores. For example, if you slipped and fell inside a grocery store, the store might be liable for your injuries.

Common slip and fall injuries include:

  • Fractures — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 95 percent of hip fractures, which are very serious and can lead to severe complications or death, are caused by slip and fall injuries.
  • Traumatic brain injuries — Falls are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries, which can be deadly. Serious traumatic brain injuries are devastating. Even relatively minor concussions can have lifelong impacts.
  • Spinal cord injuries — Spinal cord injuries can range from herniated or bulging discs to sensory impairments and paralysis.

The duration of hospital stays related to slip and fall injuries varies, but tends to be longer than other injuries with an average length of 22 days in the United States according to the World Health Organization’s Global Report on Falls Prevention in Older Age. For some slip and fall patients, a post-fall syndrome often follows a fall which can include dependence, confusion, loss of autonomy, and immobilization and depression, all of which can diminish quality of life and restrict daily activities.

Extended hospital stays, loss of income, rehabilitation, and post-fall complications often lead to significant financial hardships and costly medical bills.

Before hiring an Orlando slip and fall accident attorney know this: you must act promptly. The statute of limitations for slip and fall accidents in Florida is four years. This means you have four years since the date of the accident to hire an Orlando slip and fall lawyer to file a lawsuit against the responsible party.

Compensation for Slip and Fall Accidents

How much is your claim worth? Of course, it’s hard to say as each case is unique. However, there are several areas of compensation your Orlando slip and fall lawyer will likely pursue:

  • Current and future medical bills — In 2014, the median hospital admission charge in Florida for non-fatal slip and fall injuries was $52,191.
  • Lost wages — A slip and fall injury can put you out of work as you recover. If you miss work for an extended time due to an accident, how are you going to pay your bills?
  • Loss of earning capacity — What if you can never return to work? If this is the case, you’ve lost many years of earning capacity. For example, if you typically earn $75,000 per year and have 15 years left before retirement, you’d lose at least $1,125,000 in future earnings not counting inflation and annual increases.
  • Pain and suffering — Fractures, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries cause significant pain and suffering, and potentially affect your partner due to loss of consortium. Florida law provides for several elements of damage to be awarded by juries, including the loss of the capacity to enjoy life, disability and disfigurement.
  • Incidental expenses — Recovering from an accident will likely result in a variety of incidental expenses for which you may seek compensation. For example, if you must travel to see a specialist in another state or attend physical therapy sessions 50 miles from home, your trip and gas costs could be claimed.

What to Expect After a Slip and Fall Accident

After you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, your Orlando slip and fall lawyer will conduct an investigation to determine liability.

Since most slip and fall cases involve premises, your lawyer will likely focus on the property owner and must prove that:

  • The property owner is liable for an unsafe condition
  • The property owner is legally responsible for your slip and fall injuries

When we refer to “property owner,” this includes any employee or agent of the owner.

Some of the questions that will be looked at during the investigation include:

  • Did the property owner know of and recognize an unsafe condition? Did he or she have plenty of time to correct it, yet fail to do so?
  • Did the property owner cause the hazardous condition in the first place? For example, did he or she leave a trip hazard in a hallway where it was reasonably likely that someone might trip and fall over it?
  • Did the hazardous condition exist long enough that it could have been eliminated in a reasonable amount of time?
  • Did the property owner have a system in place for routinely checking the property’s condition? If so, do records exist documenting procedures just before the accident?
  • What other factors (weather conditions, lighting, visibility, etc.) might have contributed to the accident?
  • What preventative measures (i.e., warning signs, blocking access) might have been reasonably enacted to prevent the accident.

In addition to investigating the property owner and other potentially culpable parties, your lawyers will examine if you were at fault, and if so, to what degree. This is known as “comparative fault” and is likely to be brought up by the other party to show that you were to blame, or partially to blame, for the accident.

Thus, the investigation will look into your role in the accident. For example, were you texting and walking? Were you in an unauthorized area? Did you ignore posted warning signs? These facts do not prevent bringing the case, but they are essential for your lawyer to know.

The Importance of Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses can help support your side of the story by providing expert testimony about the conditions that led to your injury. For example, a flooring and traction expert or accident reconstruction expert can provide the jury with the information they need to decide in your favor, even if no eye witnesses or video surveillance footage are available.

Do I Really Need an Orlando Slip and Fall Lawyer?

It’s smart to get an Orlando slip and fall lawyer early in the process to find and prove liability for your injuries. Since slip and fall lawyers in Orlando typically work on contingency, exploring your legal options is worth doing.

Early involvement allows your lawyer and their team to identify and preserve evidence, find witnesses, get statements, perform surveillance, and establish what the conditions were and who knew about it. Delay in getting an attorney involved can often lead to a loss of evidence crucial to the success of the case.

Leighton Law has recovered millions of dollars’ worth of slip and fall settlements and verdicts for clients in Orlando. Our entire team of Orlando slip and fall lawyers, paralegals, investigators, and staff have your best interests at heart and work aggressively to secure your future. Contact us today to schedule 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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