All property owners have a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. Unfortunately, many businesses and individuals do not keep their premises safe. If you have fallen and been injured on somebody else’s property, you may recover reasonable compensation in a premises liability lawsuit for medical bills, lost wages, your pain and suffering, mental anguish, and lost capacity for the enjoyment of life.
When it’s more than just a slip and fall — when someone else’s neglect has led to real injury — contact the attorneys at Manuel & Thompson in Panama City, Marianna, or Bonifay for an evaluation of your case.
Premises Liability – The Law
A property owner is not automatically responsible for an accident simply because it happened. In a premises liability lawsuit, the injured person must first demonstrate the existence of a dangerous condition on the property. Next, they must prove that the dangerous condition was either created by the property owner or his/her employees, was recognized by the property owner or his/her employees, or should have been recognized by the property owner or his/her employees. If the property owner should have known about the dangerous condition, according to premises liability statutes they can be held liable for injuries caused by that condition. Proving all of this can be difficult, or even impossible without the help of an experienced legal team. Contact us as soon as possible so that we can get the ball rolling and prove your case.
In past premises liability cases, attorneys with Manuel & Thompson have successfully faced large insurance companies and businesses on behalf of clients injured by unsafe property conditions. Opposing counsel, property owners and their insurance companies will commonly argue 1) that there was no dangerous condition 2) if there was a dangerous condition, the owner did not create the condition 3) the owner did not have the opportunity to learn about the “alleged” dangerous condition, or 4) the plaintiff was negligent and only has himself or herself to blame.
Any responsibility a plaintiff has for their fall is known as “comparative negligence.” In a premises liability lawsuit, if a jury believes that there is shared negligence between the plaintiff and the property owner, they are required to apportion the responsibility between them by assigning percentages that total 100 percent (i.e. 70 percent fault on property owner, 30 percent on plaintiff). The damages recorded by a plaintiff are reduced by the percentage of their own fault (i.e. plaintiff’s damages are $100,000, but he is 30 percent comparatively negligent – plaintiff recovers $70,000.00 from the negligent property owner).
For more information about comparative negligence in premises liability lawsuits, contact us today.
What should you do if you have been injured in a slip and fall accident?
If you have fallen and have been injured on someone else’s property, it is important to gather names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any eyewitnesses. You or someone you know should report the incident to the property owner or manager before leaving. Immediately seek medical treatment for all injuries and follow all doctors’ recommendations for treatment. An experienced premises liability attorney from Manuel & Thompson can then advise you about your legal rights.
After the incident, photographs of the dangerous condition that caused the fall can be very important for your premises liability claim. Stained, soiled, torn clothing worn at the time of the fall is important evidence, as is the footwear worn at the time of the fall. They should be set aside and not worn anymore. Try to obtain a copy of any incident report written by the business where you fell, although you probably will not get this. Under Florida law, these businesses are allowed to do internal incident reports and do not have to provide copies to either the injured person or to our premises liability attorneys. Within days after the accident, the business or their insurance company might ask for a recorded statement. Anyone seeking a statement from you then is only looking after the interests of the property owner, not you. Contact us before speaking with the property owner’s legal representatives.
Consult with an experienced premises liability attorney
Premises liability cases in Panama City and across Florida are strongly contested by property owners, their insurance companies, and their defense attorneys. In the vast majority of slip and fall cases, they will offer either little or nothing to settle a claim made by an individual not represented by counsel. Usually, it is only after a premises liability lawsuit has been filed, significant discovery has been conducted, and a trial date is on the horizon, that a defendant is likely to make reasonable settlement offers. When defendants are unreasonable, the lawyers at Manuel & Thompson are prepared to take your case to trial.
Contact us at (850) 785-5555, or 1-800-832-7225