A slip-and-fall accident can happen to just about anyone, in any location. A particularly bad fall can result in debilitating injuries, emotional trauma, and financial instability.
Fall accident victims commonly file personal injury claims against the business or property owner in charge of where they fell. In this way, an injured person can seek compensation when his or her accident was caused by the negligent or careless act of another person or entity.
In recent years, comprehensive legal reforms have significantly impacted personal injury law. This new legislation has impacted long-standing laws regarding comparative negligence rules and calculating damages. The statute of limitations, stipulating how long after an accident you have to file a claim, has also been adjusted. Additionally, an increase in fraudulent slip and fall lawsuits may have an impact on valid cases.
This article will discuss some of the factors involved in slip-and-fall accident litigation. We will also consider how these new laws and trends may affect your personal injury claim.
Premises Liability Law and Your Slip and Fall Claim
Most slip-and-fall accident cases fall under premises liability law. Property owners or their representatives have the legal obligation to exercise reasonable care, ensuring that their properties are adequately maintained and safe for visitors.
In the event that a hazardous situation arises, premises liability law defines the property owner or manager’s responsibility to remedy the problem in a timely manner. So, when you have slipped on someone else’s property and wish to seek damages for your injuries, you will need to prove that party’s negligence.
You will be expected to establish the following:
- The property owner or representative owed you a duty of care. In other words, the property owner had a legal responsibility to provide a safe environment to you as a property visitor.
- The property owner or representative breached the duty of care. This can happen when there is a failure to maintain safe conditions or adequately warn visitors of potential hazards on the premises.
- This breach caused you to suffer injuries. Because the property owner failed to remedy or sufficiently warn of the hazardous condition, you were hurt.
- You suffered actual damages. Your injuries resulted in real damages, such as medical expenses, permanent disability, lost wages, or pain and suffering.
Premises liability cases can be complex and confusing. What’s more, recent tort reforms have made it more challenging to establish liability for injuries sustained due to hazardous conditions or criminal acts on a property.
In light of this, an experienced personal injury lawyer is your best possible resource after a fall accident. He or she can keep you in the know of all current applicable legislation and advise you on how best to proceed with your claim.
Recent Changes to the Comparative Negligence Law
The March 2023 changes to the Florida negligence law have the potential to significantly impact slip and fall litigation going forward. The state now follows the modified comparative negligence system.
Under this system, an injury victim is barred from recovering compensation if he or she is found to be more than 50 percent responsible for the accident. This change to local personal injury law may further complicate slip and fall lawsuits.
The defendant will likely argue that, regardless of the circumstantial evidence, the injury victim should have been watching where her or she was going. In an effort to throw out your case, the defense may contend that your failing to see the potential hazard in advance makes you at least 50 percent liable for the accident.
Recent Adjustments to the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases
The statute of limitations is the law designating the maximum time period after an incident during which the injured party can bring legal action against the other party. If you fail to open your slip and fall case within this time period, you forfeit your right to pursue compensation for your injuries.
In Florida, lawsuits for personal injury are now, since early 2023, subject to a 2-year statute of limitations. Previously, the state allowed plaintiffs 4 years to file their claims in civil court.
This significant reduction in the time permitted to pursue litigation will govern your slip and fall claim in several ways.
Your time for discovery and investigation is limited
The shorter statute of limitation in slip-and-fall accidents means that injured victims have less time to gather evidence and investigate the circumstances that led up to the fall injury. You will also have less time to determine and evaluate the full extent of your injuries.
If you wish to recover compensation in your slip and fall case, you need to be diligent in collecting evidence of what happened and documentation of your damages. Otherwise, it may be too late for the negligent party to be held accountable.
You may need to file a claim before making a full recovery
The new statute of limitations requires slip-and-fall accident victims to act quickly in filing a compensation claim or lawsuit against the responsible party. While it may seem like a positive step to settle your fall case early and receive your due money, this could result in your claim being undervalued.
In many cases, slip-and-fall accidents result in life-altering injuries, requiring lengthy recovery periods. Unfortunately, the new statute of limitations dictates that you may need to file your fall lawsuit before you can determine the full scale and impact of your damages.
If this is the situation you find yourself in, it is critical to retain the help of an experienced attorney. He or she will be able to assess the full extent of your fall injuries, your medical treatment, and medical bills. These efforts will ensure that you seek enough compensation to meet both your current and future needs.
The pressure to settle your personal injury case prematurely
With the shortened statute of limitations closing in, you may be tempted to rush your slip and fall lawsuit. Or you may feel compelled to accept a settlement offer right away even though it doesn’t truly meet your long-term needs. Either way, this is not in your best interest.
Once fall cases settle, there is no re-opening them. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into a settlement agreement that fails to cover all of the economic and non-economic damages related to the accident. A personal injury attorney can help you through the settlement process, even negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf.
You have a reduced amount of time to secure legal representation
Determining liability and successfully revolving serious slip-and-fall accidents almost always requires the help of a qualified attorney. The reduced statute of limitations means that you have considerably less time to find a personal injury lawyer to represent you after you have been hurt.
Out of necessity, some injury victims may feel forced to use the very first fall accident lawyer they can find. This is not an ideal situation, as everyone has the right to feel comfortable with – and confident in – his or her legal representation.
Others, lacking clear understanding of the laws pertaining to their fall incidents, may simply fail to hire a lawyer before time runs out.
The Detrimental Impact of Questionable Slip-and-Fall Accident Claims
In addition to changes in legislation, statistics reveal an unfortunate new trend in personal injury claims. There has been a considerable increase in questionable slip and fall lawsuits in the last few years. Sadly, this uptick in sham personal injury cases can make the litigation process for legitimate fall cases more difficult.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, New York and Florida have seen a recent 30 percent increase in fraudulent slip and fall claims. Scammers are filing fake personal injury claims in order to cash in on others’ liability insurance.
Understandably, businesses and homeowners alike, are increasingly on guard against fraudulent and questionable fall injuries and lawsuits. This means that, if you have truly been hurt in a slip-and-fall accident, you may have to bear a higher burden of proof. It must be established not only that you fell but also that you sustained real and lasting injuries as a result.
If you suffered broken bones, dislocations, or other injuries, your medical records and medical expenses will need to be submitted to the court. Records and evidence of lost wages or reduced earning capacity as a result of the fall injury will also likely be needed to secure fair compensation.
Slip and fall cases have long been challenging to litigate. Such personal injury cases are often less than straightforward, with many variables. As more and more individuals pursue faulty or bad-faith litigation, real accident victims suffer. An experienced personal injury attorney is the advocate you need in this difficult situation.
Get Advice From Knowledgeable and Understanding Slip and Fall Injury Lawyers
A serious fall injury can knock you off your feet for a considerable amount of time. You may be facing a lengthy recovery while worrying about mounting medical bills and lost income.
Such concerns, coupled with recent changes in personal injury law and increasing insurance fraud, may leave you feeling unsettled. Injury victims are often unsure how to proceed with their slip and fall case, but that makes it all the more timely to consult with a well-practiced personal injury lawyer.
The attorneys at Gordon & Partners law firm have dedicated their careers to helping injury and accident victims attain the compensation they deserve. Our clients understand that we are committed to every case we take. It is our belief that every injury victim deserves a voice.
Falling and injuring yourself due to another person’s negligence or wrongful act is devastating. Having a trusted lawyer on your side, though, can make the difference between receiving little to no compensation and winning a substantial award for your pain and suffering.
If you or a family member has been hurt in a slip-and-fall accident on someone else’s property, let us help you. Call Gordon & Partners today at (855) 722-2552 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation with our personal injury law attorneys.