This is the second installment of our two-part blog post that exposes common misperceptions about Florida slip and fall legal claims. Click here to read Part I. While we have tried to dispel a range of common misconception about fall-related lawsuits, Orlando slip and fall lawyer Mark Cressman invites you to contact us if you have specific questions about your unique situation.
Myth #4: Trip and fall or slip and fall accident victims typically exaggerate or fake their injuries.
Insurance companies and businesses trying to avoid liability claims routinely contend that a fall could have only caused a minor injury. This misconception is accepted by many people who delay seeing a doctor because they experience only minor symptoms in the immediate aftermath of a fall. Falls send eight million people to emergency rooms throughout the U.S. annually according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Approximately two million of these fall victims suffer injury caused by flooring and flooring materials according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Falls at travel and recreational destinations take a particular toll on older people. The CDC reports that falls are the second leading cause of death among individuals age 65 through 84 years of age. Over 2.5 million individuals over the age of 65 visit emergency rooms annually because of falls, and approximately 774,000 of those experience injuries severe enough to require hospitalization. Fall accidents also claimed the lives of 25,500 adults over age 65 in 2013 according to the CDC.
Myth #5: Trip and falls cases are relatively easy to prove because businesses can be forced to pay for damages based on “constructive knowledge”.
Although liability can be imposed on a resort owner without “actual knowledge” of a hazard, Florida law was changed in 2012 to make it much harder for personal injury victims to rely on “constructive knowledge”. In many jurisdictions, the term “constructive knowledge” refers broadly to information a company “reasonably should know” based on the facts and circumstances. Florida changed the standard for imposing liability several years ago in cases where the owner of a business open to the public has no actual knowledge of a hazardous condition. Without proof of actual knowledge of the hazard, the fall victim must introduce proof that the business should have anticipated the accident because of recurring conditions that the victim could have taken measures to remedy. Alternatively, the hazard can be shown to have existed for a period of time during which reasonable care would have led to knowledge of the danger. This higher standard places a premium on the quality of an injury victim’s legal representation.
Myth #6: The law does not impose a duty on owners of resorts and entertainment centers to investigate their property.
Owners of temporary forms of lodging and amusement attractions have a legal duty to perform reasonable custodial and maintenance practices. When dangerous conditions are not discovered within a reasonable period of time, constructive knowledge of the danger might be imputed to the owner of the premises.
If a banana is knocked off of the shelf of a convenience store inside a hotel, for example, constructive knowledge might be imputed to the owner if it can be established the fruit was present for five minutes without being cleaned up. The resort has a duty to conduct reasonable inspections of the sales floor of the convenience store to discover items that could fall on the floor and cause injury to patrons or visitors. Circumstantial evidence can be used to prove constructive knowledge, such as tracks, smashed open peels, streaks, smudges, or other signs the business should reasonably have discovered and remedied the hazard. Surveillance video from a business also can provide valuable evidence of constructive knowledge.
If you suffer injury in a slip and fall, the Cressman Law Firm has been taking on large national insurance companies and negligent business owners for over two decades. Mr. Cressman has successfully represented hundreds upon hundreds of clients injured by the negligence of others. Mr. Cressman invites you to call today and schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal rights and to obtain a case evaluation. Call us at 407-877-7317.