What should you do should you slip, fall, and become injured because of a wet or slippery floor in a supermarket, a restaurant, or a shopping mall in south Florida? Seek medical attention first, but your second priority is speaking with a West Palm Beach premises liability attorney.

To be compensated for injuries after a slip-and-fall incident, you’ll need to prove, with your personal injury lawyer’s help, that the property owner was negligent. Keep reading, and learn exactly what steps to take, because anyone could be seriously injured in a slip-and fall accident.

Florida law requires property owners to maintain their properties in a way that eliminates or significantly reduces the risk to visitors. If a property isn’t maintained with the safety of visitors in mind, the owner may be held liable for injuries that others sustain on the property.

Owners aren’t held accountable for slip-and-fall incidents that they couldn’t reasonably prevent, but if a property owner was aware of a hazard – or should have been – and you’re injured, you have the right to file a premises liability claim and seek damages from the property owner.

HOW CAN YOU PREVAIL WITH A PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIM?

If you’re injured on private property in a slip-and-fall accident, seek medical attention at once. You’ll need the medical paperwork and test results if you pursue an injury claim to seek reimbursement for your accident-related lost wages and medical costs.

Take photographs of the accident scene and your own injuries. Pictures are powerful evidence that can make the difference in a premises liability case. If there were witnesses, try to get their names and contact information. Your attorney may need their statements or testimony later.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO PREVAIL WITH A PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIM?

Winning a premises liability claim requires the injury victim (the plaintiff) and his or her attorney to prove the three “elements” in a claim for premises liability:

1. The owner of the property (the defendant) owed a “duty of care” to the plaintiff.
2. The defendant breached the duty of care through negligence.
3. That negligence was a direct cause of the victim’s personal injury or injuries.

The duty of care differs in different circumstances. Homeowners owe visitors a basic duty; they are required to keep their properties reasonably safe, warn visitors about known hazards, and avoid creating hazardous situations for visitors.

A more demanding duty is owed to others by business owners, who must protect clients, customers, employees, and contractors. You can tell visitors to your home to use caution on a cracked sidewalk, but if that sidewalk is part of your business property, you must fix it promptly.

WHAT ABOUT TRESPASSERS?

No duty of care is owed to a trespasser, but a property owner cannot intentionally create a hazard to hurt trespassers. Owners should instead count on locks, alarm systems, and security guards. If your business is guarded by a dog, a warning sign has to be visibly and clearly posted.

The duty of care to a visitor is mostly determined by the visitor’s purpose. If you’re injured in a slip-and-fall accident on someone else’s property, you should be able to explain your relationship with the property owner and the reason why you were visiting when the accident happened.

WHAT CONSTITUTES A BREACH OF THE DUTY OF CARE?

Determining a property owner’s duty of care is merely the beginning of a premises liability claim. The alleged breach of the duty of care must also be considered, and that is often complicated to determine. You’ll need the help of a good south Florida premises liability lawyer.

A property owner breaches the duty of care when he or she fails to keep visitors to the property safe from a slip-and-fall incident that can cause a serious injury. Here are several instances of what could constitute a breach of the duty of care:

1. A failure to tell visitors about an aggressive dog
2. A failure to clean up spilled liquid – promptly – on a grocery store’s floor
3. A failure to lock a swimming pool area securely to keep children out
4. A failure to keep areas accessible to the public reasonably free of hazards and debris

IF YOU CAUSE YOUR OWN INJURY

The word “reasonably” comes up often in discussions of premises liability. Property owners do not have liability for every conceivable injury that may be sustained on their premises.

For example, if you stroll into someone’s barbecue pit or pool because you were looking at your smartphone, it’s your own fault, and you won’t have a liability claim.

PROVING THAT YOUR INJURY WAS CAUSED BY NEGLIGENCE

Even if you and your attorney can prove that a property owner owed you a duty of care and breached it, that’s not enough to prevail with a premises liability claim. You and your attorney also must show that the breach of the duty of care directly caused the victim’s injury.

When a premises liability case goes to trial, if a property owner could have prevented a slip-and-fall accident, and didn’t – even when he or she was aware of the hazard and had adequate time to repair it – the property owner will be found liable and ordered to pay damages to the defendant.

Few of these cases actually go to trial. Most premises liability claims are resolved out-of-court when attorneys for both sides meet in private negotiations.

Of course, an injury victim also has to prove that he or she was genuinely injured. This is why it is so essential to have a thorough medical exam after a slip-and-fall accident. It’s also why, if you slip and fall but you’re able to get up and walk away uninjured, you have no liability claim.

OBTAIN AN ATTORNEY’S PERSONALIZED ADVICE

Every case is unique. You’ve been reading a general introduction to slip-and-fall injuries and premises liability law. However, if you are the person who’s injured in a slip-and-fall accident, you’re going to need personalized legal advice about how the law applies to your own situation.

The statute of limitations in Florida gives you four years to file an injury claim arising from a slip-and-fall accident, but you’ll need to act promptly. Evidence and memories deteriorate over time, so the sooner you can put your attorney on the case, the better.

If you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident in south Florida, seek immediate medical attention, and then take your case to the right West Palm Beach premises liability attorney. If you are injured in this state by another person’s negligence, the law entitles you to full compensation