Defective Conditions on Property

Slip and Fall
Pembroke Pines Slip and Fall Attorneys Serving Southern Florida

If you are hurting because of injuries sustained in a fall on someone else’s property, you need to know your rights under the law. Because the rules concerning slip and fall cases vary significantly from one situation to another, seeking the advice of a knowledgeable attorney is vitally important. The Pembroke Pines attorneys of Cohn & Smith have decades of combined experience handling defective property condition cases and other lawsuits involving personal injury. We welcome the opportunity to review your case.

Slip and fall accidents (sometimes called “fall down cases” or “trip and fall suits”) are part of a branch of negligence law referred to as “premises liability”. Not all premises liability cases involve falls, however. The larger area of premises liability law encompasses a variety of injury mechanisms arising from unsafe and/or defective property conditions (for example, a drowning caused by a homeowner’s failure to secure a swimming pool or an assault in a hotel hallway resulting from inadequate security).

Requirements of a Florida Negligence Lawsuit: Proving Dutyslip and fall

Premises liability cases, including slip and falls, come under the general law of negligence. A negligence case arises when one person seeks to recover money damages for injuries caused by someone else’s careless conduct. To make out a case of negligence, the person seeking to recover must first prove that the defendant owed him or her a legal duty. He or she must then show that the defendant breached that duty. Third, the claimant must prove that he or she suffered actual damages (a “close call” is not actionable). Finally, the claimant must show causation, meaning that he or she must be able to establish a link between his or her damages and the defendant’s breach of a legal duty.

Duty in Slip and Fall Cases – Different Duties for Different Types of Guests

Slip and fall cases differ from other types of negligence cases in that the particular duty owed to someone who ventures onto someone else’s property depends upon the relationship between the “visitor” and the property owner. There are three distinct types of visitors: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. A property owner owes a much higher duty to an invitee (a person who comes onto the property for the mutual benefit of the owner and the guest) than to a mere trespasser (who comes onto the land without any invitation, actual or implied).

A landowner has at least a minimum duty even to a trespasser in that the landowner cannot intentionally harm such a potential visitor. With regard to invitees, such as customers who enter a store for a business purpose such as shopping, a landowner has a much higher duty. Not only is intentional harm prohibited, the landowner (or business operator) must regularly inspect the premises and repair any known defects and/or warn visitors of dangerous or defective conditions on the property. With regard to the “in between” class of visitors known as licensees (such as social guests in a home), a landowner must warn visitors of known dangers but is not under a duty to discover unknown hazards.

Other Issues Arising in Defective Property Condition Cases

All negligence cases have a deadline for filing a lawsuit, after which an injured party has no legal right to recover. This time period is called the “statute of limitations” and is generally four years in Florida. In wrongful death cases, however, a family has only two years to sue.

Another potential issue in slip and fall cases is that of comparative fault. Under this doctrine, a claimant’s recovery is reduced in proportion to his or her own fault in an accident. If, for instance, a jury determines that the plaintiff’s damages (lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc.) are $10,000 but finds that the plaintiff was 60% responsible for the accident, the net recovery to the plaintiff will be $4000.

Slip and Fall Lawyers in Pembroke Pines

Because there are so many variables in slip and fall cases, it is imperative to contact a knowledge and aggressive lawyer in order to maximize the likelihood of fair compensation. The attorneys of Cohn & Smith are currently scheduling appointments for slip and fall cases arising in Pembroke Pines, Tamarac, North Dade County, and other areas throughout South Florida. Call us at (954) 431-8100 or use the contact form located on this website to schedule your free initial consultation.