It’s that time of year when winter storms threaten most of the country. If you’re lucky enough to live in Florida, you’re lucky enough! But, even in the Sunshine State, there is the occasional storm. And in places not used to getting snow, odds are parking lots won’t be treated as well as they are up North that could cause slip and fall.
If your town manages to get hit with an ice, hail or snow storm this winter, you need to know how to navigate the icy roads and parking lots. Unfortunately, when parking lots aren’t treated before, during and after a winter storm, they become very dangerous. Some would say downright treacherous!
You need to make sure you dress for the weather. That’s the first thing. The other thing you need to do is make sure you keep an eye out for icy patches. Once that ice or snow starts to melt, parking lots can be worse than they are at the height of the storm.
The Department Store or Parking Lot Owner May Have Commercial Liability
Falling and getting hurt in a parking lot is different than getting into a car accident. You won’t be filing your claim against an individual’s insurance policy. You’ll be filing your claim against a commercial policy. These companies have tons of lawyers working for them. They review each claim and look for reasons to deny them.
Your claim may be denied for any number of reasons:
- They think the accident is your fault
- The policy had lapsed for non-payment
- The insurance company doesn’t believe you were injured
- They don’t think you actually fell
- They think your injuries came some other way
- You have a history of suing companies for these types of accidents
If your claim is denied, your attorney will try to negotiate a settlement of your claim. If this doesn’t work, he’ll have no choice but to file a lawsuit.
In your lawsuit, you’ll have to name several parties, including:
- The department store or company who owns the parking lot
- The management company
- The company responsible for clearing the lot
- Any other party that may be negligent in regards to the parking lot
The goal is to settle your case. The more parties that are held liable, the more likely your odds of settling.
The Duty of Care of Property Owners and Winter Weather Dangers
Slip-and-fall incidents caused by winter weather often occur in parking lots or on sidewalks in commercial locations (outside companies, for example), but homeowners must also monitor their property.
It is virtually always the case that property owners have an obligation to maintain the safety of locations where the public (and particularly consumers) may be anticipated to be. This obligation involves the periodic examination of the property, as well as the removal/remediation of snow and ice within a reasonable time frame, in order to limit the danger of slips, trips, and falls. Failure to perform this legal obligation may constitute carelessness.
Typically, property owners will have contracted with plow firms to clean their parking lots and walkways of snow and ice. There is a duty of care to foresee the hazards presented by snow and ice and maintain the property properly, regardless of whether the owner is undertaking the maintenance and cleaning or a firm hired by the owner. Given all of the facts, the issue to evaluate is whether the property owner's action was reasonable. Learn more about establishing liability in slip-and-fall cases.
However, the public has a responsibility to use reasonable care while walking in a snowy and/or ice region of which they are aware (or might reasonably anticipate). Depending on the contributory/comparative negligence standards in effect in the location where the accident occurred, failing to behave with reasonable care may diminish your compensation in a possible case or preclude any claim entirely.
What If You’re Partly Responsible for Your Fall?
Often times, the plaintiff is considered to be partly at fault for their injuries. If you contributed to your injuries, it’s something called comparative negligence. In Florida, if you’ll found to be partly at fault, your settlement or jury award is reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, if you would’ve received $100,000 and you’re found to be 25% at fault, you’ll only get $75,000. The defendant has to prove that you were partly at fault. This is why settlements are common. It’s cheaper and easier to come to an agreement than it is to battle it out in court.
Some ways in which you may be held partly at fault include:
- You're not dressed appropriately
- You're under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the fall
- You were not careful when walking through the parking lot
- You tripped on something you dropped
The defendant’s lawyers will find some way to argue that you’re at fault. Your personal injury attorney knows how to handle this.
What You Might Recoup with Slip and Fall on Ice Settlements
If you slip and fall, you may be able to recover the cost of your medical care by filing a lawsuit against the property owner and maybe the contractor responsible for snow and ice removal.
You may also be able to collect lost pay if you can prove that your injury (and potentially doctor's visits linked with it) caused you to miss work or to work fewer hours than you would have otherwise. In addition, you may be entitled to obtain compensation for the pain and suffering that the accident caused, as well as any effect on your daily activities, such as exercise, housework, and leisure time. All of these elements comprise your damages for personal injuries.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Navarre Today
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, you need to contact a personal injury lawyer in Navarre, Florida today. If somebody is responsible for your injuries, they need to be held accountable.
Some of the damages your lawyer will demand are:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Future medical bills
You have to actually suffer damages in order to file suit. If you weren’t hurt, no experienced personal injury lawyer will take your case. You have to prove actual injuries in order to recover.
Call and schedule your initial consultation today. The consultation is absolutely free. It gives you a chance to have an experienced personal injury lawyer review your case. He can even tell you what it might be worth.
The insurance companies will have lawyers working for them and you should too. And remember, at Browning Law – you pay nothing until you settle your case!
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