Top Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents in Florida

30Nov
Businessman slipping on wet office floor. Causes of slip and fall accidents

Common causes of slip and fall accidents include negligent property maintenance, wet or Slippery Surfaces, uneven or poorly maintained surfaces, and inadequate lighting. The consequences of these accidents can range from minor bumps and bruises to broken bones and, in some cases, even fatalities. However, the majority of these accidents are preventable. If you have suffered damages due to a slip and fall accident that occurred as a result of someone’s negligence, you may be able to claim compensation.

Businessman slipping on wet office floor. Causes of slip and fall accidents

Most Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents in Florida

Slip and fall accidents happen due to several common causes:

Negligent Property Maintenance

Under Florida laws, property owners are responsible for ensuring the safety of their visitors. They must perform regular inspections, carry out routine repairs, and take proactive measures to address potential hazards. This prevents accidents and creates a secure environment for everyone who visits the property.

However, some property owners fail to fulfill their legal obligation. Negligent property maintenance can lead to hazardous conditions, such as uneven and damaged flooring, cracked sidewalks, potholes in parking lots, lack of handrails on staircases, inadequate lighting, and wet or slippery surfaces.

Wet or Slippery Surfaces

The property owner or the person in control of the property who is responsible must ensure that wet or slippery surfaces are dealt with in a timely manner to prevent injuries.

However, according to the Florida slip and fall statute, if a person suffers an injury due to a slip and fall on a transitory substance, he or she must prove that the business had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have cleaned it up. A transitory foreign substance is any liquid or solid substance, item, or object that’s located where it doesn’t belong.

To prove constructive knowledge in a slip and fall case, the injured person must show that the dangerous condition existed long enough for the store to figure out it was there, or that it occurred regularly and was therefore foreseeable.

A property owner can be held accountable for negligence if someone slips on a surface in a mall or supermarket that is wet due to negligence. Negligence can include situations where the floor was not properly dried after mopping, a slip-free mat was not used, spills were not cleaned up, warning signs were not present, or walkways were not cleared.

Uneven or Poorly Maintained Surfaces

Slip and fall accidents are common and can be caused by hazards such as loose carpets, wires, ropes, uneven flooring, potholes, and cluttered walkways. Slick spots, seams, and cracks on floors, parking areas, and sidewalks can also increase the risk of such accidents.

Property owners or tenants must maintain the floors to avoid them from falling into disrepair. If there is damage, they should post signage that helps mark the dangerous area to warn pedestrians of the danger.

Inadequate Lighting

Individuals are at risk of falling on various types of surfaces when their vision is impaired. Even a surface that may not pose a significant threat during the day can become hazardous in the absence of sufficient lighting. The responsibility of ensuring that walking areas are adequately illuminated lies with the property owner. Places such as pool areas, walkways, sidewalks, garages, and stairwells pose a heightened risk of accidents.

Defective or Inadequate Safety Measures Can Cause Injuries

As caretakers of a property, it is the responsibility of owners and managers to take necessary safety measures to prevent any injuries. They should perform regular inspections, maintain the property well, conduct timely repairs, put up warning signs in hazardous areas, and restrict access to unsafe regions to prevent harm to visitors. This duty applies even in the absence of any complaints from visitors.

Negligence by Property Owners or Occupiers

If you have a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can get compensation from the owner. To receive compensation, you need to demonstrate that the property owner was negligent and that this negligence led to your accident.

Duty and Breach

In Florida, business owners or occupiers have a duty to take reasonable steps to maintain their premises and keep it free from dangerous or defective conditions that could harm visitors.

Property owners are in breach of their duty to invitees if they fail to remedy a dangerous or defective condition or do not warn invitees of its presence. This breach occurs when the owner knows of the existence of such a condition or should have discovered its existence through reasonable diligence.

Causation

After this, a plaintiff needs to demonstrate that the defendant’s breach of duty was the direct and immediate cause of his or her injury.

To prove actual cause, the plaintiff must show that the injury wouldn’t have happened if the defendant had met his or her duty of care.

To prove proximate cause, the plaintiff needs to establish that the injury was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s negligent behavior.

Damages

Finally, the plaintiff needs to prove that he or she suffered damages. These damages can be physical or emotional. In assessing negligence, it may be helpful to understand what the four types of negligence are.

Environmental Factors that Lead to Slip and Falls

Environmental factors can play a role in increasing the risk of slips and trips. It is important to consider these factors while ensuring safety. ‘Environment’ in this context refers to lighting, noise levels, weather conditions, humidity, and condensation.

Environmental factors that can affect slips and falls include:

  • Excessive light on a shiny floor can cause glare, making it difficult for people to identify potential hazards on the floor or stairs. On the other hand, inadequate light can also prevent people from noticing hazards.
  • Unfamiliar or loud noises can distract people and cause them to lose focus, leading to slips and trips.
  • Rainwater on smooth surfaces, whether inside or outside a building, can create a slip hazard. A well-designed entrance with canopies can help prevent this.
  • Cold weather can cause frost to form, leading to slippery surfaces.
  • Condensation can make smooth floors slippery, and thus, increase the risk of slips and trips.

When possible, property owners or occupiers should address these environmental factors to reduce the chance of a slip or a fall.

Who Can Be Held Liable for a Slip and Fall in Florida?

In Florida, slip and fall accidents are classified as premises liability cases. According to premises liability laws, it is the responsibility of the property owner or the person in control of the property to ensure the safety of visitors. If the owner or the person in control of the property fails to take the necessary precautions to prevent accidents on the premises, he or she should be held liable for negligence.

The party that is liable for the accident usually depends on where the accident took place. If the slip and fall happened in a public facility, the commercial property owner or business owner will most likely be held responsible for your injuries. On the other hand, if the accident occurred in someone else’s home, the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance of the responsible party will most likely cover your damages.

When to Hire a Slip and Fall Lawyer

While there is no specific timeline or deadline, the sooner you hire a premises liability lawyer after your accident, the better.

Your attorney will help you understand how to prove slip and fall liability, and assist you in gathering crucial evidence that can prove who was at fault for your slip and fall accident. Once all the evidence is collected, your attorney will present it to the insurance company or the court to establish the other party’s negligence. It is your attorney’s job to prove that the responsible party failed to take proper care, and that this inaction led to your accident.

After collecting all the relevant evidence and documentation, your attorney can calculate how much your slip and fall is worth and negotiate with the insurance company or file a lawsuit to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. Your attorney will also ensure that your claim is filed within the Florida slip and fall statute of limitations, which is two years from the date of your accident.

Types of Damages

When filing a lawsuit for a slip and fall accident, there are two types of damages you can claim: economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages, also known as tangible or monetary damages, have a quantifiable dollar value and are based on the actual and future costs of the accident. Examples of economic damages that can be claimed include medical bills, lost income, loss of earnings capacity, and treatment for mental injuries.

Non-economic damages refer to physical pain and mental anguish caused by an accident. It can include discomfort, anxiety, depression, insomnia, loss of consortium, loss of self-esteem, and disability.

Photo of Jim Magazine
James (Jim) Magazine is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer who has spent his career helping injured victims. Jim is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida since 1990 and is also admitted to practice at the Appellate level and admitted to the United States Supreme Court.