Trip & Fall Accidents…Who is at Fault?
“Trip and Fall” cases typically arise when individuals are injured because they tripped and fell on someone else’s property as a result of the property owner’s negligence. These types of matters are known as premises liability cases, and can become quite complicated to handle without the help of an experienced attorney.
In Florida, property owners have a legal duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition including an obligation to fix broken or uneven sidewalks, fill dangerous potholes, and repair a loose or crumpled carpet. In addition to maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition, Florida property owners also have a legal duty to warn visitors of dangerous conditions that exist on their property which could cause injury. Warnings can vary, and may include orange cones, signs, fencing, and warning tape.
A landowner will typically not be liable if a person tripped over his/her own shoe lace or dress, however, a landowner can be liable if the fall was caused by a defective or negligently maintained condition such as a loose handrail, improperly maintained or improperly designed sidewalks, parking lots, walkways, stairs and ramps, and improperly lit areas.
Many times, the property owner will allege that they should not be held liable because the condition that caused the injury was “open and obvious,” trying to shift negligence to the injured party. However, Florida courts have ruled that “a plaintiff’s awareness of a dangerous condition does not negate a defendant’s potential liability for negligence in allowing the dangerous condition to exist…” Mashi v. Lasalle Partners Management Ltd., 842 So. 2d 1035, 1039 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003). Simply put, just because the injured party was aware or could have been aware of the dangerous condition before tripping over it, doesn’t mean the landowner is completely off the hook. The landowner still has a legal duty to warn against those dangerous conditions.
Premises liability incidents can be very complex, and the root cause of the injury is not always as apparent as it may be in other cases such car accidents. For this reason, it is important to hire an experienced attorney, one who has the ability to investigate these falls, determine the cause of the injury, find the potentially responsible party(ies), and get fair and just compensation for the loss.
If you or someone you know suffered an injury as a result of a trip and fall accident, call Greenberg & Strelitz, P.A. today at (561) 361-9400 to schedule a consultation, and let us help you understand your legal options.