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Slip and fall accidents can cause serious injuries
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 30 percent of adults age 65 and older fall in the U.S. each year. Though these accidents may not sound serious, even a short fall can cause severe injuries, such as hip fractures, brain injuries and can even contribute to a risk of early death. In fact, according to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma for adults over age 65 in the U.S.
Of course, not all of these slip-and-fall accidents happen at home. It is not uncommon for businesses and property owners to have cracked sidewalks, improperly maintained stairs and slick floors. In Florida, if a person suffers an injury in a business or on another person's property, the property owner may be legally liable.
Property owners and occupants owe invitees a duty of care
Generally speaking, the responsibility of a property owner or occupant for a visitor depends upon how and why the person entered the property. In most cases, people entering the property of another - including businesses - are defined as "invitees" under the law. That is, they entered a premises after the owner or occupant, by express invitation, arrangement of the property or otherwise, has made it clear that the property is to be used by visitors for a particular purpose and that the use is in accordance with the intentions of the owner or occupant.
In Florida, a person who owns or occupies a premises owes invitees a duty to use reasonable care to ensure that the premises is in a reasonably safe condition. This means that an owner or occupier must both:
- Use reasonable care in keeping the premises in reasonably safe condition; and
- Warn invitees of dangers that are known or should reasonably be known to the owner or occupier that the invitee does not know of and cannot discover through the exercise of reasonable care
Therefore, property owners have a duty to learn of any potentially hazardous conditions on their property and either to fix them or to provide warning about the condition to invitees, unless the hazard is open and obvious. Just because a visitor has a duty to avoid obvious dangers, however, does not mean that he must go out of his way to discover hidden hazards or be extra careful. In the absence of a warning, customers may assume, for example, that the floors in a business are safe to walk on.
Contact a personal injury lawyer
Determining who may be at fault for a slip-and-fall accident can be complicated. An experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and explain your options.