I Slipped and Got Injured: Do I Have a Case?

I Slipped and Got Injured: Do I Have a Case?

Throughout the years, our Tallahassee attorneys have handled numerous cases where a client has slipped on someone else’s property and gotten injured.  Most of those clients just assumed that whoever was the owner of that property would be automatically responsible for their injuries.  However, the fact is, several factors must be proven before a property owner can be held responsible for a slip and fall, and throughout the years, legislation and case law has made it harder and harder to succeed on these claims.

When you enter someone else’s property as an invitee, the owner of that property has a non-delegable duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. In addition, the property owner also has a non-delegable duty to correct or warn of known dangers that the owner knew or dangers the owner should have known about within the property: dangers that the invitee did not and/or should could not have known about through reasonable care. That means the property owner must take reasonable steps to ensure the property is free from any type of potential injury causing dangerous condition.  It further means that if a property owner knows or should know about a dangerous condition, the property owner owes the invitee a duty to warn of the dangerous condition.  Further, Florida Statute (Fla. Stat.) § 768.0755 requires the injured individual to prove the property owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have acted to remedy it.  The statute then provides ways to prove constructive knowledge, such as proving:

  • The dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have known of the condition; or
  • The condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.

As such, when an injured person brings a claim against a property owner as the result of a slip and fall, one of the first defenses you will hear is there was no notice to the owner of the dangerous condition.  The best way to defeat that argument starts at the time of the fall itself.  Immediately after the fall, always document what the spill looks like by taking pictures or making sure an accurate description of the spill goes in the incident report.

For example, imagine you slip and fall at the local grocery store on what appears to be spilled water. After collecting yourself and getting up, you realize the spill has several cart tracks and footprints in it and appears to have contain some nearly melted ice cubes in it.  You get up and find an employee and report the fall.  The employee immediately wipes up the spill without taking pictures and fills out a report simply stating you slipped and fell on a clear liquid.  After leaving the store you get examined at the emergency room and find out you fractured your wrist in the fall.  When you make a claim against the store for the injury their risk manager quickly responds that they did not have notice of the spill.  At this point, if you had pictures of the dirty liquid with footprints in it you would be able to argue there is evidence the spill had been there for a long enough period the store should have known about it.  Without the pictures, you are left with just your testimony, which is not as strong as pictures or an incident report written by a store employee.

The moral of the story is–if you cannot prove actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition, you don’t have a case.  Therefore, after a fall, make every effort possible to document all the characteristics of the spill, preferably with photographs.  By doing so your chances of prevailing on the case will be drastically increased.

If you or a loved one have been injured as the result of a slip and fall accident, call the attorneys at Barrett Nonni & Homola today by dialing 850-601-1111 or fill out our Free Consultation form!

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Hurricane Michael Storm Damage Insurance Claim Information

Hurricane Michael Storm Damage Insurance Claim Information

What is the best process for filing an insurance claim after a major natural disaster? Hurricane Michael just came through Florida devastating many families and home in its wake leaving those families in a state of sadness riddled with fear and anxiety about the future of their property. Here is a 5 step process for how to start and finish a hurricane insurance claim from the experts at Barrett Nonni & Homola.

5 Steps to Take After a Hurricane in Tallahassee

  1. Document the Damage: Documenting the storm damage that your home or business sustained due to Hurricane Michael is the most important part of this entire process.  Take photos of anything that you think may have been storm damaged by the storm, such as holes or cracks in the roof, shingles or tiles on the ground, grit from shingles in the flower beds, broken windows, etc.  In addition to taking photos of the outside of your roof, go up into your attic, if you’re able to do it safely, and take photos of the inside of your roof as well. Also, keep in mind that storm damage to the facade of your home or business is covered by insurance too, so look for storm damage to the wood, vinyl, brick, or stucco that surrounds your building.  Take photos of everything, even if you aren’t sure what you’re taking photos of; the importance of these photos in proving your claim cannot be overstated.
  2. Report the Damage: Your insurance policy contains information explaining what you’re supposed to do if your property sustained storm damage due to Hurricane Michael.  So, review your policy and make sure you understand that process. Then, call your homeowners’ insurance company or commercial property insurance company, file a claim, and provide them with copies of all the photos and other documentation you’ve gathered.  
  3. Mitigate the Damage: You have a duty to mitigate your storm damages, which means that you are required to take reasonable steps to prevent the storm damage to your home or business from getting worse over time.  If you fail to mitigate your storm damages, then the insurance company may deny your claim. For example, if there’s a hole in your roof and you’re able to hire someone to cover the hole with a tarp or you’re able to purchase a tarp and cover the hole yourself, then you are required to do so in order to prevent further water storm damage.  That being said, it’s important to remember that you only have a duty to act reasonably, so if you can’t afford to hire someone or you can’t afford to purchase a tarp or you aren’t physically able to cover the hole yourself, then you aren’t required to do so. Additionally, don’t attempt to repair any of the storm damage until after you’ve documented the storm damage and you’ve given the insurance adjuster an opportunity to inspect the storm damage.  
  4. Attend the Inspection: Shortly after you file the claim, your insurance company will send an adjuster to inspect your property and assess the storm damage.  You should be present during this inspection and you should point out to the adjuster any storm damage that you think he or she may have missed.  It’s very important that all of your property storm damage is documented during this inspection. If the adjuster fails to document some of your property storm damage and you report the storm damage to the insurance company at a later date, the insurance company may deny that portion of your claim.  For example, winds over 48 miles per hour are strong enough to lift shingles away from the roof and allow water to penetrate the building without actually ripping the singles off the roof. Then, once the storm passes, the shingles often fall back down onto the roof. In this type of situation, the roof system has been destroyed and needs to be replaced but the storm damage is not obvious to the naked eye, especially from the ground.  So, if your home or business sustained winds over 48 miles per hour during Hurricane Michael, when the adjuster comes to inspect your property, you should insist that he or she check the roof even if there isn’t any obvious storm damage.
  5. Follow-Up on the Claim: After the inspection, the insurance company will review all of the information and make a decision regarding your claim.  Continue to follow-up with the insurance company until they inform you of their decision in writing. If the insurance company denies all or any part of your claim, or if they approve your claim but the amount of money they offer you is less than the total cost of all the repairs, then it’s time to hire an experienced attorney to make sure that the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you.  The Tallahassee storm damage attorneys at Barrett Nonni & Homola have years of experience with all aspects of storm storm damage claims, from documenting the storm damage, to dealing with insurance companies and hiring the best experts to prove your case, to negotiating fair settlements or winning your case at trial.

We hope your process is smooth and without heckling from the insurance company; however, we all know that similar to natural disasters, unexpected events can occur. If you find yourself in a place where the insurance claim is stalled or the insurance company isn’t cooperating, Let us fight for you! We have a way of making insurance companies cooperate and helping insurance claims file smoothly. Give us a call at 850-601-1111 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.

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