Lakeland Slip and Fall Lawyers
Whether you’re shopping at Lakeside Village or our two Walmart Supercenters, catching a game at Joker Marchant Stadium, or enjoying a dinner party in Beacon Hill, the owners or renters of each of these properties must protect you from slip and fall hazards. While society often tends to scoff at slip and fall accidents as a minor event, people can suffer life-altering or even life-ending injuries from slips and falls.
If you sustained injuries over a fall that occurred on a residential, commercial, or public property, you can seek compensation for your injuries from the at-fault party’s applicable homeowner’s or business liability insurance policy. You can file a civil lawsuit if the third-party insurer fails to offer an adequate settlement.
An experienced Lakeland slip and fall attorney from the Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys can help you understand this process and provide services to assist you in exercising your right to be compensated for an injury resulting from a negligent property owner.
Frank and Jennifer Fernandez of The Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys have helped thousands of people throughout Florida obtain the compensation they deserve after someone else’s careless or reckless actions injured their clients. We understand the tactics often used by insurance companies to avoid paying out on claims involving injuries caused by their insured, and we have the experience and know-how necessary to counter those tactics.
Because of this, we have recovered over $90 million through negotiated settlements or jury verdicts. Contact Frank and Jennifer Fernandez now for a free case evaluation to learn more about the services we can provide for you.
What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?
A slip and fall accident is a type of accident in which an individual becomes injured after slipping and falling or tripping and falling due to a property hazard that the owner or possessor of the property knew or had reason to know about and failed to repair. Slip and falls are the most common type of premises liability claim.
The National Floor Safety Institute reports that slip and fall accidents in the U.S. result in more than one million visits to the emergency department each year.
Most Common Sip-and-Fall Accidents
Lakeland slip-and-fall or trip and fall injuries come about in many different ways. The most common slip and fall accidents occur in the following situations:
- Wet Floors
- Slippery floors caused by wax, polish or slippery foreign substances
- Broken or uneven walkway surfaces
- Stairway falls
- Debris left on the floor
- Loose, old or damaged carpeting, rugs, floor mats or flooring
Other types of slip-and-fall accidents might include tripping over an object left in an aisle or on a walkway. An example might include the base of a store display that protrudes into the pathway where shoppers are expected to walk.
How Do Slip and Fall Accidents Occur in Lakeland?
In recent years, the Lakeland Planning and Zoning Commission has put a lot of thought into the notion of allowing taller buildings in areas of the city where multi-family structures are allowed, such as the Garden District. Some reasons cited included improving the city’s skyline to attract more businesses, residents, and tourists to the area.
However, these discussions also mentioned that many of the developers of these tall apartment buildings would likely be out-of-state landlords who would not necessarily keep the properties safe for residents and visitors.
Tall buildings feature stairs, which are a common cause of injury in slip and fall cases, particularly if improperly designed and maintained stairs are in areas with poor lighting. Missing or broken handrails on the stairway can also cause slip and fall accidents, as can slippery floor surfaces on the steps or clutter, liquid, or debris on or near the stairs.
An aging population in Lakeland is another primary source of slip and fall accidents. Approximately one in every three individuals over the age of 65 has fallen in the past year, and around 15,000 older people die each year due to fall injuries. Around 24,000 individuals aged 65 or older live in Lakeland.
Other property features that can give rise to a slip and fall claim in Lakeland include:
- Cracked or broken sidewalks
- Potholes in parking lots
- Freshly waxed or mopped floors
- Loose or worn flooring materials
- Uneven surfaces
- Falls occurring in nursing homes due to negligence
Injuries Incurred in Lakeland Slips and Falls
Half of all accidental deaths occurring in the home result from a fall, and falls occurring in the workplace are the primary reason for missed days from work. However, this type of accident is of particular concern for elderly individuals due to normal changes associated with aging, such as declines in eyesight and hearing and medical conditions that affect strength and balance. Additionally, bones tend to grow weaker with age, resulting in a higher risk of injury.
One of the most severe injuries an older person can suffer in a Lakeland slip and fall accident is a broken hip. A hip fracture is a serious injury that often results in life-threatening complications such as blood clots in the legs or lungs, bedsores, and further loss of bone mass that can lead to additional falls and injuries.
Falls are the second-leading cause of accidental death in individuals aged 65 to 84, and the leading cause of accidental death in people aged 85 or older.
The symptoms of a hip fracture include:
- An inability to get up after falling or an inability to walk.
- Severe pain in the hip or groin.
- Inability to bear weight on the leg on the affected side of the body.
- Bruising and swelling in the hip area.
- A shortened or outward-turned leg on the affected side.
Most hip fractures occur in the femoral neck, which is the area of the femur (the long bone in the leg that extends from the pelvis to the knee) just beneath the femoral head. The hip is a ball-and-socket type joint in which the femoral head makes up the ball that slips into the socket, known as the acetabulum.
Fractures can also occur in the intertrochanteric region, located a little farther down from the hip joint, in the portion of the upper femur that juts outward. Hip fractures almost always result in the need for surgery, and half of all elderly individuals who suffer this type of injury will be unable to return home or live independently after the injury.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Another extremely serious and often life-changing injury that is commonly incurred in slip and fall accidents is a traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries are the result of a jolt to the head or body.
The brain is one of the most important organs of the body. It controls all of the body’s voluntary responses, such as walking or speaking, and its involuntary responses, such as breathing, heart rate, and consciousness. Unfortunately, despite its importance, the brain has only a limited ability to heal from damage.
Individuals who have sustained traumatic brain injuries will often incur lifelong deficits as a result.
The deficits that produced by a brain injury include:
- Memory loss.
- Difficulty speaking or understanding spoken language.
- Difficulty controlling one’s behaviors, emotions, or impulses.
- The inability to move in a balanced or coordinated manner.
- Blindness or the inability to perceive the size and shape of objects.
- Consciousness disorders that severely impair the individual’s alertness and awareness.
In addition to permanent disability, traumatic brain injuries often create dangerous complications such as seizures, hydrocephalus, an increased risk of blood clots, and a higher risk of degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Falls are among the leading causes of spinal cord injuries, which are also one of the most serious injuries suffered in Lakeland slip and fall accidents. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that extends down the back from the base of the skull and—along with the brain—makes up the body’s central nervous system.
The primary function of the spinal cord is to relay messages from the brain to the rest of the body. A damaged cord results in a loss of sensation and function below the injury, or paralysis.
An injury in the cervical (neck) region of the spinal cord will often paralyze the body from the neck down, including the chest, abdomen, arms, and legs. This condition is tetraplegia or quadriplegia. Injuries occurring lower on the spinal cord will often result in paralysis in the lower extremities only. This is known as paraplegia.
Like the brain, the spinal cord does not heal well from injury and the resultant disabilities are generally permanent. This is a high-impact injury impacting every aspect of the individual’s life, including the ability to earn an income or accomplish personal care tasks independently.
A high risk of serious complications can reduce the life expectancy of the sufferer, including pneumonia, which stems from paralysis in the chest and abdominal region that prevents the individual from coughing and clearing lung secretions.
Pneumonia is the leading cause of death for spinal cord injury sufferers.
Other Injuries Suffered in Lakeland Slip and Fall Accidents
While the three conditions listed above are among the most serious consequences of a fall, other Lakeland slip and fall accidents can result in lost income, medical expenses, and pain.
These injuries include:
- Soft tissue injuries, including sprains, strains, torn muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Two common areas to sustain this damage are the knees, particularly if twisting motion is involved in the slip and fall, as well as the arms and shoulders, due to the body’s instinctual urge to catch itself with outstretched arms.
- Severe cuts and abrasions, which can result in scarring and carry a risk of infection.
- Bone fractures in the legs, arms, wrists, and feet.
What Can I Win
Our experienced Lakeland slip-and-fall attorneys know that proving fault on the part of a business establishment or property owner requires evidence of negligence. A business owner owes its customers a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition, to eliminate potential hazards and to avoid injuries to customers or invited guests.
For example, if you are shopping at a Lakeland grocery store and slip and fall on a substance on the floor in the produce area, the Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys would look for evidence to prove that the business’ owner or management failed to periodically inspect its isle floors to remove water, other foreign substances or debris that could cause a fall down accident. Once we establish liability and, depending on the nature and severity of your injuries, our attorneys may be able to recover compensation for the following types of damages:
- Lost Earnings
- Past and future medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss companionship, comfort, services, etc.
In cases of a wrongful death, our attorneys may also seek compensation for funeral expenses, loss of support and household services and loss of future earnings and accumulations.
Frequently Asked Questions about Lakeland Slip and Fall Accidents
There are many sources of confusion surrounding Florida’s premises liability laws that govern the ability of victims to seek compensation for injuries they incurred as a result of a slip and fall accident. Here are answers to the questions that a Lakeland slip and fall attorney receives most often.
How do I seek compensation after a Lakeland slip and fall accident?
Individuals in Lakeland can pursue compensation if they slipped and fell because the property owner or possessor failed to keep the premises free from hazards that injured them, or promptly mitigate known hazards.
You have four years from the accident to prove who is liable (legally responsible) for the expenses and quality of life impacts of your injury, as well as to show those expenses and impacts.
How do I prove a property owner was responsible for my slip and fall?
To prove a slip and fall case in Lakeland, your attorney will help you show:
- The at-fault party owned, occupied, or leased the property on which your Lakeland slip and fall accident occurred.
- There was a breach in the duty of care that the at-fault party owed. The duty of care refers to the reasonable actions a property owner or possessor would take to protect guests from harm, such as regularly inspecting the property for hazards and promptly repairing those hazards when they are detected.
- The at-fault party’s failure to mitigate property hazards resulted in a slip and fall accident that caused your injury and associated expenses and psychological impacts.
I fell due to a broken handrail while at a party at a friend’s house. Do I have to sue her to be compensated?
Technically, no. While proving your friend’s negligence is an important aspect of your claim, you will seek compensation against your friend’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, not your friend. Insurance policies pay most personal injury settlements or awards. Most property owners and renters cannot afford to pay for someone else’s injury expenses out-of-pocket.
Can I file a Lakeland slip and fall lawsuit if I fell at work?
Florida’s workers’ compensation program covers these accidents. Workers’ compensation is a form of no-fault insurance policy that most employers in Florida are required to provide for their employees. This policy covers all necessary medical treatment associated with the injury and wage replacement benefits if the individual temporarily or permanently cannot work. In exchange for this coverage, most individuals cannot file civil claims for injury compensation against their employers.
Only a few exceptions give rise to a personal injury lawsuit after a slip and fall accident at work.
Those exceptions include:
- The law required the employer to provide worker’s compensation for you and failed to do so, freeing you to seek the recovery of compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury from your employer through Florida’s civil court system.
- The injury stemmed from a hazard created by a third party (someone who is not your employer or your co-worker), and your employer had no reason to know of the hazard or the opportunity to mitigate it.
The at-fault party’s insurance company offered me a settlement already. Should I take it?
Have you spoken to an experienced slip and fall attorney? Has your attorney evaluated your case based on the expenses and impacts you already incurred or those you will likely incur? If not, then be very wary of the offer. Insurance adjusters are in the business to save their company money. One of the ways they do this is by offering quick, early, and often ridiculously low settlements in exchange for a quick resolution to the case.
If you accept the offer, be aware that you will not be able to return to the insurance company and request more money in the future if you discover that it wasn’t enough to cover your expenses.
How much is the average Lakeland slip and fall case worth?
Every slip and fall case is unique to its own circumstances, including how the accident occurred, the severity of the injury, the clarity of liability, and the willingness of either party to enter a settlement agreement. Because of all these unique factors, there really isn’t an average case.
Many issues can affect the value of your claim, including:
- The amount of insurance the at-fault party has.
- How much you were earning when the accident occurred. Many of the recoverable damages in a slip and fall case revolve around the injured person’s ability to earn an income, and replacement for wages that were lost while the individual was too injured to work. Even the calculation of non-economic damages, which compensates you for the quality-of-life impacts you sustained in the accident, involves the income that you lost due to the injury. If you were making a higher wage when the accident occurred, and you no longer can continue earning what you did after the injury, your case may recover more than if you were unemployed.
- Your patience with the settlement process. Settlement negotiations generally begin after the claimant’s attorney submits a demand package to the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster. They can continue until after the trial begins but before a judgment. Often, the fairest settlement offers come closer to the end of the process than the beginning, when the insurance company faces the looming expenses of litigation and an uncertain outcome.
My elderly mother died as a result of a slip and fall accident at a nursing home. Can I sue?
Without knowing the details of your case, generally, you can seek compensation after a slip and fall at a nursing home. Nursing homes are required to develop and follow care plans for residents at high risk of a fall. These plans often include supervision or assistance with tasks that require standing or walking. Failing to follow the care plan for an individual at risk of falling is a form of nursing home negligence.
Additionally, nursing homes are under the same premises liability requirements as any other type of property owner or possessor, including regular inspections to find hazards and promptly repair those hazards.
I was trespassing when I slipped and fell. Can I sue the property owner?
Generally, no. In Florida, property owners do not owe a duty of care to trespassers beyond not luring them to the property in an attempt to intentionally injure them. To have a legal claim, you would need to show that the property owner knew that you were trespassing on the property and allowed it to happen. In that case, an argument could be made that you were a licensee, not a trespasser, which would require a greater duty of care from the property owner, including fixing known hazards or sufficiently warning visitors of their existence. With licensees, there is an expectation that you are assuming the risk of injury if you had reason to know about the hazards and entered the property anyway.
What type of defenses do property owners have against slip and fall claims?
Insurance companies will often attempt all kinds of defenses to avoid paying out for a slip and fall claim.
Some common defenses in this type of case include:
- The property owner or possessor had no knowledge or reason to believe that a hazard existed.
- The property owner claimed that your slip and fall was the result of you wearing the wrong shoes, or not watching where you were going.
- The open and obvious doctrine, which purports that the hazard was so visible that it would be impossible for someone to not see and avoid it.
- Volenti Non Fit Injuria, which translates to “no harm can be done to a willing person.” This claim asserts that you knew or had reason to know that about a risk of slipping and falling on the property but chose to go there anyway.
Do I have to pay taxes on my Lakeland slip and fall settlement?
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says that settlements and awards received as compensation for personal injury are not income or taxable. An exception, however, applies to punitive damages. Courts may award punitive damages in Lakeland slip and fall cases as a financial consequence of particularly wanton or careless behavior on the part of the property possessor. Because punitive damages don’t compensate for the injury itself, the IRS may tax them.
How can a Lakeland slip and fall attorney help me with my case?
Slip and fall cases can be complex, as you will be required to prove that the property owner knew or had reason to know that the hazardous condition existed. Further, the requirements involved in legal processes are often difficult to understand if you have not had formal training in the law. Finally, you can be sure that the insurance company whose policy is involved in the matter will seek assistance from experienced legal counsel. Failing to obtain counsel on your own can place you at a disadvantage.
An experienced Lakeland slip and fall attorney can provide you with guidance and services aimed at ensuring your right to seek compensation for your injuries.
Some of those services include:
- A no-cost, obligation-free case evaluation that will provide you time with an attorney to obtain answers to your legal questions, share details about your case, and explore the options that are available to you.
- A determination of the liable party in your case and any insurance policy that can be accessed to provide compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury.
- The establishment of a value to your claim that is based on the expenses and impacts your injury has already caused, as well as those you are likely to incur in the future.
- Aggressive negotiations focused on obtaining a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
- Guidance as to the pros and cons of accepting or rejecting an offered settlement.
- The filing of your lawsuit in court within the statutory deadline for your case.
- Preparation for litigation, including gathering the evidence and witness testimony needed to prove your claim in court.
- Litigation services, including delivering opening and closing arguments, examining witnesses, and presenting evidence.
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award.
I’m not sure my case is worth enough to speak with an attorney. Does the Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys only work on big cases?
It is impossible to know the value of your claim without putting a lot of consideration into all the costs and impacts you have incurred as a result of your accident, including some that you might not even be aware you can claim. Our skilled legal team has the experience to handle any sized slip and fall case, and we never regard a case as too big or too small. We are looking forward to exploring your legal options with you during your free case evaluation. Contact us now and we’ll start with your free case evaluation.
Injured in a Lakeland Slip and Fall? The Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys Can Help You
Falls are the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., accounting for around one in five deaths resulting from accidents. Fall fatalities are split relatively evenly between falls from elevation and those occurring on the same level. For those who survive their injuries, this type of accident often features a cascade of severe impacts on the sufferer’s quality of life.
Employed individuals who become injured as a result of a fall miss an average of 31 days of work, resulting in a serious loss of income that coincides with mounting expenses resulting from the injury. Slip and fall injuries often place strains on the individual’s relationships with family members, as his or her spouse or children often find themselves in a caregiver role and the injury makes participating in hobbies or community events difficult.
The level of liability that a property owner or possessor faces because of the duty to protect guests from harm depends on the type of guest sustained the injury.
- Invitees are guests who are on the property for the benefit of the owner/possessor. This includes customers who visit retail stores or restaurants, as well as professionals who are invited into a private home to provide services to the homeowner, such as cable installation or plumbing services. These guests are owed the highest duty of care, with property owners/possessors needing to perform regular inspections of their property for potential hazards, promptly repair hazardous features, and warn guests of unmitigated hazards through the prominent placement of warning signs.
- Licensees are social guests, such as those attending a dinner party at a private residence. They are on the property for their own benefit and afforded a duty of care that includes repair of known hazards and warning of unrepaired hazards.
- Trespassers, who are on the property without the permission of the owner/possessor. The only duty that is owed to trespassers is to avoid intentionally harming them.
When seeking compensation for injuries, people rarely know that they can receive not only compensation for the medical expenses related to treating the injury but can also gain compensation for other expenses—including wage replacement—plus the impacts that the injury had on their quality of life.
How the Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys Can Help With Your Case
The experienced accident attorneys at the Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys understand that accident injuries never arrive at a convenient time. We are happy to make ourselves available to our clients 24/7, providing services to assist them in obtaining the compensation for their injuries that they deserve.
- Guide you through your legal options with a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
- Determine all sources of liability and accessible insurance resources that can provide compensation.
- Evaluate your case based on the expenses and impacts you have already incurred due to your injury and those you will likely face.
- Negotiate with the speeding driver’s insurance provider to obtain a fair settlement offer.
- If necessary, file your lawsuit in court within the statute of limitations for your claim. Even as your lawyer prepares your court case, settlement negotiations can continue. A settlement agreement can be made at any point before a jury decides the case.
- Litigate, including making opening and closing arguments, presenting the evidence to prove your claim, and examining witnesses.
- Collect your settlement or award.
Let’s explore your options for seeking compensation for the slip and fall caused by a negligent Lakeland property owner. We’ll listen to what happened to you and give you a free claim evaluation. If we feel you have a good case and you want to work with us, we’ll vigorously pursue your case and loop you in after every development. Call now and let us start working for you.
Contact Frank and Jennifer Fernandez at The Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys online or by calling (863) 230-8361. The consultation is absolutely free. We will not collect any legal fees or costs unless you win and … We want to Win!.