Fort Myers Slip and Fall Accident Attorneys
At some point in our lives, every one of us will end up on our rears. Maybe we tripped on our own stairs or were knocked down in a sporting event. What makes this situation even worse is when our fall isn’t our own fault.
When you walk into a restaurant, a store, or down the street, you expect to find safe conditions. You don’t expect to find slippery floors, water on the sidewalk, or spilled food. All of these scenarios create unsafe conditions that can lead to serious injury.
If you encounter these or similar situations, you need to know what to do next. The thing to remember is that you did not cause your injuries and that you should not have to pay for them.
For assistance making sure your bills are covered, you need an aggressive and compassionate slip and fall attorney in Fort Myers to take your case.
Slip and Fall Causes
According to Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, slip and fall accidents are common. Causes may include:
- Recently waxed floors
- Uneven surfaces
- Loose rugs
- Uneven stairs
- Spilled food or liquids
While everyone should look where they’re walking, certain dangers are hidden, so even if you are diligent, you may not see the issue ahead. Besides, it’s never your fault that you slipped on something that should have been cleaned up by the property owner.
Even if you weren’t paying attention to where you were walking, that doesn’t remove liability from the property owner. In Florida, property owners, whether the property is commercial or residential, owe you a duty of care to keep their property safe. If you’re injured on their property, they’ve probably failed in that duty and owe you compensation for your injuries.
Slip and Fall Injuries
Slipping and falling may not seem like it could cause serious injury. Most often, the most injured part of your body is your ego. After a fall, you may feel embarrassed and just want out of the situation. But according to the National Floor Safety Institute, slip and falls account for more than one million emergency room visits each year.
In reality, slipping and falling can cause life long negative consequences for your health. Common injuries include:
- Chronic back pain
- Broken bones
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
- Swollen joints
- Spinal cord injuries
Slipping and falling is no joke. According to the National Safety Council, five percent of all people who slip and fall break a bone. Even if you don’t feel any pain right after your fall, that doesn’t mean you’re clear from any injuries. Seeking prompt medical attention is the only way to make sure that you are all right.
Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall
There are several steps you need to take immediately following a slip and fall. These steps are important to not only ensure your safety but also ensure that you are financially compensated.
- Seek medical attention right away. Even if you don’t feel pain, get a medical professional to evaluate you. In addition to getting medical attention, this will create documentation about your accident and the injuries that you suffered. This will come in handy for your claim.
- Get a police report. This may sound like an extreme step, but getting a police report will help document the accident scene and what happened. Besides that, the police will interview any witnesses to your slip and fall. While the police may not cite anyone at fault, this information will help your slip and fall lawyer fight to protect your rights.
- Take pictures of the area. If you’re able, take pictures of your injuries and the area where you fell. Pay close attention to any slippery, wet, or uneven areas, and get detailed pictures.
- Don’t speak to the insurance company. The insurance company is not looking out for your best interest. The insurance company will want to speak with you as soon as possible, take your recorded statement, and then use that statement to get you to settle for less than your claim is worth. Speaking with a skilled personal injury lawyer first can help you avoid costly mistakes when you do speak with the insurance company.
- Call Viles & Beckman. Since 1995, we have been helping Floridians just like you who have been injured in slip and fall accidents. Our job is to make your recovery as smooth as possible while ensuring that the negligent party pays your bills.
- Continue to document everything. Even after your accident, document everything. Keep your medical bills. Keep copies of your medical records. Keep a journal of your pain and discomfort. No bruise or pain is too small or insignificant to ignore. These documents can help your case.
You should also give notice to the property owner. You do not, however, need to provide them with a lengthy and detailed description or account of what happened. Under no circumstances should you mention the fall was in any way your fault. Fault is determined by an investigation by your lawyer and the insurance company. Saying the slip and fall was even partially your fault may seriously harm your ability to recover the compensation that you need to make a full and complete recovery.
Holding the Negligent Party Liable
Slip and fall cases may seem simple. In reality, they are complex personal injury cases that require the keen eye of an experienced and skilled personal injury lawyer. Under Florida law, property owners must keep their property reasonably safe for all who enter.
To hold property owners liable for your injuries, they must not have acted as a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances would have acted. This is why you see wet floor signs as you enter a store or mall during the rainy season. The owner of the property must take steps to dry the floor as people enter and provide a warning that the floor is wet.
Other examples include:
- A restaurant employee failing to clean up a spilled drink in a reasonable amount of time
- A mall owner failing to repair parking lot potholes
- A city failing to repair uneven sidewalk pavement
Your claim will be against the property owner on whose property you were injured. Most likely, this will involve their insurance company. Have a trusted personal injury attorney by your side to help you navigate the complexities of your personal injury claim and to help deal with the insurance company.
Damages for Your Injuries
Your injuries impact your ability to enjoy your life. Because you played no part in causing your slip and fall, you should bear no responsibility for the bills associated with your recovery.
At Viles & Beckman, we will fight to get you compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of companionship
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Emotional distress
Even the most minor injuries may come with major medical costs. What many clients don’t anticipate is future costs. You may have medical bills sitting on your kitchen table, but those aren’t the only bills you’ll need to pay. Our compassionate and aggressive personal injury team will help you recover damages to help you cover all of your medical costs.
We Know What Evidence to Look For
Immediately after your slip and fall, your biggest priority should be making sure that you get better. You’re not an expert in slip and fall cases, and you may not even know what to look for to support your claim.
But we do. Since 1995, we’ve been collecting evidence for victims of slip and fall accidents in Florida. We interview witnesses before they forget details about your accident. We make sure your injuries are documented. And we’ll get copies of any accident reports.
This isn’t all we do. We also make sure your case is provable:
- Was there a dangerous condition?
- Did the property owner fail to act reasonably?
- Did the property owner violate the law?
Answering yes to the above questions helps to build your case. Our job is to make sure you get the compensation that you deserve to get better. We focus on the legal work while you focus on your recovery.
Settlements Aren’t Always in Your Best Interest
The insurance company of the property owner will likely contact you with a settlement offer. Until you speak with a skilled personal injury lawyer who reviews the offer, don’t accept it.
Most likely, this is a low ball offer that won’t cover all of your medical costs. Besides that, you may have to waive your right to bring a future claim against the insurance company. This means you could find yourself in extreme financial hardship if you take the first low ball offer from the insurance company.
They know you have medical bills piling up, and they know you need fast cash. They want you to take the low ball offer. Insurance companies make money by not paying out claims. Don’t let this happen to you. Speak with us today to make sure that your rights are protected and that you get the compensation you deserve to get back on your feet.
How Much Is a Slip and Fall Case Worth
It all depends on the circumstances of your accident. But rest assured, insurance companies won’t want to settle for the full value of your claim. They may get away with it too if you decide not to use an experienced personal injury attorney. Insurance companies are in the business of making money. If they pay out your claim, that hurts their bottom line. Their insurance adjusters are trained to pay out as little as possible for every claim that comes across their desk.
Having the right slip and fall lawyer on your side is one of the most important factors in making sure you get the full value of your claim. Insurance companies know that Viles & Beckman is aggressive and won’t settle unless it’s right for you. We can help you get the compensation you need to pay your bills and get back on your feet.
What We Do for You
At Viles & Beckman, it’s our job to reduce your stress and handle the legal work, so you can focus on your recovery. We do that by taking care of the paperwork. Personal injury claims are complex and there is a great deal of paperwork that you must file and review. We’ll handle this so that you don’t have to worry about it.
While it’s true that most cases settle out of court, we won’t settle your case unless it benefits you. Ultimately, we want you to get better, and that means you need a certain amount of money. We will aggressively fight with the insurance company to get you what you need.
If we can’t get there in a settlement, we are fully prepared to take your case all the way to trial, if necessary, to get you compensation for the full cost of your injuries.
Without a trusted personal injury lawyer fighting for you, you risk getting nothing for your personal injury claim and having to pay your medical expenses out of pocket. Avoiding this scenario is one of the best ways for you to make sure your focus is on your recovery.
Fort Myers Slip and Fall FAQ
If we were to ask you what the leading causes of ER visits in the United States is, what would you say? Chances are you’d come up with things like car accidents, heart attacks, or accidental poisonings. But what about falls? Approximately 8 million people visit the ER because of a fall every single year. Of these, a large percentage of the patients are elderly.
According to the CDC, one in four adults 65 and older will suffer a fall this year. Those who fall are at risk of fractures, brain injuries, and even death. Unfortunately, as we age, our bodies have a harder time responding to injury. Consequently, older adults may never fully recover from a serious fall. While a large number of falls happen at home, far too many happen in public places, such as grocery stores, restaurants, or parking lots. If you or a loved one has suffered a fall due to someone’s negligence, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Contact our experienced personal injury attorneys for more information about your legal rights.
Frequently Asked Questions About Slip and Fall Accidents
They say accidents have a way of taking you by surprise. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to falls. One minute you’re on your feet, the next minute you’re not. As such, the reflexive reaction is to stand up and brush it off and pretend nobody saw you.
But falls can be serious. And most of the time “brushing it off” can make matters worse. Take action to protect yourself and get the care you deserve by calling us today.
What is a slip and fall accident?
Slip and fall accidents are exactly as they sound. They happen when a person slips on a wet or slippery surface and falls to the ground. When we use the term “slip and fall,” we also include trip and fall accidents. While slip and fall accidents usually happen on a flat, wet surface, trip and fall accidents happen as the result of an uneven surface. Common causes of trip and fall accidents include uneven walkways, raised or poorly positioned rugs, uncovered extension cords, or unmarked steps.
While a slip and fall accident may seem like a minor incident, these accidents can lead to very serious injuries, especially in older adults. Common injuries after a slip and fall accident include:
- Fractures: As we age, our bones lose density and break more easily. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, falls are responsible for 87 percent of fractures in older adults.
- Traumatic brain injuries: When a person hits their head on a hard object, they are at very high risk for a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The CDC reports falls as the leading cause of TBIs, accounting for nearly 50 percent of all TBI-related emergency department visits in 2014 (the year for which the most recent data is available). Young children and older adults are at the highest risk of suffering a TBI after a fall. In 2014, 49 percent of all TBI-related ER visits for children 0-17 were the result of a fall. For adults 65 and older, 81 percent of visits to the emergency room to treat a TBI were the result of a fall.
- Spinal cord injuries: The spinal cord is more delicate than you would think. A hard fall can cause serious damage and prompt the tissue around the cord to swell. When this happens, you may be at risk of permanent paralysis. According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 31 percent of spinal cord injuries are the result of a fall. If you experience any symptoms of a spinal cord injury, such as extreme pain, numbness, tingling, or difficulty walking, contact a doctor right away. Prompt treatment could prevent permanent damage.
- Soft tissue injuries: When we try to catch ourselves during a fall, the body can twist and contort into unnatural positions. This can cause muscle strains, torn tendons, or ligament damage. While these injuries often heal on their own, in some cases they may require additional treatment or surgery.
- Bruises or lacerations: Bruises are one of the most common injuries after a fall. A bruise is the body’s response to a traumatic blow to the body. Lacerations can occur if the fall was on a rough surface or there was glass in the area. Although these injuries may seem minor in the grand scheme of things, you should always have them checked out by a doctor.
Where do slip and fall accidents occur?
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere. But there are a few common hotspots that see more accidents than others. As such, owners of these places have a heightened responsibility to make sure their property is safe and free of hazards.
Some of the most common locations for slip and fall accidents include:
- Retail stores, including grocery stores;
- Parking lots;
- Swimming pool decks; and
What should I do after an accident?
After an accident, you are your best advocate. While fault may seem obvious, most property owners will be hesitant to admit negligence. For larger companies, a serious accident doesn’t just cost money, it could also damage the company’s reputation. As such, it is very common for businesses and insurance companies to employ aggressive legal teams to protect their interests. This is why your actions following the accident are extremely important.
The steps you need to take after a slip and fall accident include:
- Check for injuries: Falls can cause traumatic injuries. If you think you have a broken bone, brain injury, or spinal cord injury, do not move. Instead, ask someone else for help.
- Report the incident: If you are in a place of business, report the accident to the manager on duty. If you are at a private residence, tell the homeowner. Not only will this help you establish a record of what happened, but it may also prevent others from being injured.
- Document evidence: Evidence prevents your case from becoming a he said/she said argument. The more you can back up your side of the story with facts, the stronger your case will be. There are two things you will want to focus on after an accident: photos and witnesses. First, take pictures of what caused the fall. Was there a wet spot? Was the carpet loose? Then, talk to any witnesses. Ask for their contact information so your attorney and the insurance company can talk to them at a later date.
- Go to the doctor: Falls are serious. They are one of the leading causes of fractures, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries. It’s important to take your injuries seriously. Report all injuries to your doctor, even if they seem minor. Do not embellish or downplay your injuries. Your medical record will become a part of your personal injury case.
- Contact a personal injury attorney: After an accident, the most important thing is your recovery. A personal injury attorney can take care of the logistics, paperwork, and negotiations, so all you have to do is focus on healing.
What if I was injured at someone’s personal residence?
While we commonly associate slip and fall accidents with public venues, they can happen at a private residence. In this case, the property owner (or renter) will likely have financial responsibility for your injuries. In this circumstance, it’s best to talk to the homeowner and obtain their homeowner’s insurance information so you can contact the insurance company to begin a claim.
Will the property owner pay for my injuries?
That’s the goal. Florida’s premises liability laws and personal injury statutes allow victims to recover damages from the at-fault party after an accident. To do this, you must prove liability, negligence, and actual damages. In other words, you must show:
- The defendant had a duty to keep their property safe.
- The defendant failed to ensure safe conditions for all visitors, due to their negligence or deliberate actions.
- The defendant’s negligence was the direct cause of your injuries.
These three conditions are fairly straightforward and easy to demonstrate in most cases. Under Florida premises liability laws, all property owners have a responsibility to ensure the safety of guests, lessees, and in some cases, even trespassers. Once you and your attorney establish fault, you will need to request damages.
While each case is different, common damages in a slip and fall injury case include:
- Medical costs: Medical bills can be expensive. You may, however, recover the cost of your medical bills after an accident.
- Lost wages: Slip and fall accidents can lead to lost time at work. In fact, according to the NFSI, slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of lost days at work. In most cases, lost wages begin on the first missed day at work and end when you return to work. If your injuries are serious, you may be eligible for future lost wages.
- Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering covers actual physical and emotional distress after an accident. This may include depression, anxiety, chronic pain, loss of enjoyment, or loss of companionship.
- Wrongful death: According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury for older adults. A wrongful death claim may help cover the cost of medical bills, lost wages, funeral and burial costs, and pain and suffering.
How long do I have to file a personal injury suit?
Florida’s personal injury statute of limitations outlines how long a plaintiff has to request damages after a slip and fall accident. In most cases, victims have four years to file a personal injury suit. After this time, the court has the right to deny your claim. There are limited circumstances in which the court may allow you more time.
These might include:
- Fraud: The other party hid details relevant to the case that you discovered after the statute of limitations had run out.
- Age: If the victim is a minor, the state will typically pause the statute of limitations until they turn 18.
- Mental disability: The court may pause the statute of limitations if the victim did not have the mental capacity to take legal action at the time of the accident.
What information should I bring to my initial consultation?
Your initial consultation with a personal injury attorney is your opportunity to meet your potential attorney and for the attorney to get a better understanding of your case. You should bring any evidence you have gathered with you, which will allow the attorney to let you know what they think about the likelihood of success and potential value of your case. This will allow you to make the best decision moving forward.
While individual attorneys may give you a list of items they want you to bring, there are a few things you should definitely gather before you head to your appointment.
- The name of the at-fault party and the name of the person you spoke to.
- The other party’s insurance information.
- Your health insurance information.
- Any photographs from the incident and/or witness information.
- Relevant medical records, diagnoses, and names of any medication you were prescribed as a result of the accident.
- Any letters or correspondences from the at-fault party or their insurance adjuster.
You Shouldn’t Have to Answer These Questions Alone
Accidents are upsetting. And if you have never filed a personal injury lawsuit, the whole process can be confusing and overwhelming. A personal injury attorney can help. During the process, you may have a lot of questions. Don’t waste time and energy trying to hunt down the answers on your own. If you have questions about a recent slip and fall accident or need help with an open claim, contact our experienced Fort Myers slip and fall injury attorneys for more information about your legal rights.
Contact Viles & Beckman if a Fort Myers Slip and Fall Accident Injured You
When you’re injured in a slip and fall accident, the last thing you need to worry about is your legal claim and how you’re going to pay your bills. That’s where we come in. Since 1995, we’ve been helping clients just like you handle their slip and fall claims so that they can focus on what matters most: getting better. That’s all injured individuals should worry about.
When you meet with us, we’ll evaluate your claim, conduct an investigation, speak with witnesses, deal with the insurance company, and fight for your rights in court. We do all of this at no cost to you. We only get paid if you win, and we only take cases we feel we can win.
Contact Viles & Beckman online or by calling 239-334-3933 today. We look forward to helping you get back on your feet.