How Insurance Companies Devalue or Deny Valid Slip and Fall ClaimsRequest Free Consultation
Slip and fall claims are one of the most common types of personal injury lawsuits. As such, they are aggressively defended against by business and property owners. A property owner will not be automatically held responsible for every slip and fall that happens on his or her premises. As an injured accident victim, you need to prove your claim and combat potential defenses with assistance from a Tampa slip and fall accident lawyer.
Comparative Negligence Defense
Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that can reduce the amount of financial compensation a plaintiff (filing party) can receive in a negligence-based case. It argues that the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to the accident or injuries being claimed. Negligence means that a person fails to use a reasonable or ordinary amount of care. If this defense succeeds, Florida Statutes Section 768.81 states that the amount awarded as economic and noneconomic damages will be diminished proportionately to the claimant’s contributory fault.
The defendant in your slip and fall claim may try to allege that you contributed to your own accident to avoid being allocated 100 percent liability for the fall. The defense may attempt to prove that you weren’t paying attention to where you were walking, for example, or that a reasonably prudent person would have seen the slip and fall hazard and avoided it. If any percentage of fault is attributed to you, this can diminish your claim payout by an equivalent amount.
Lack of Notice Defense
A successful premises liability lawsuit requires proof that the property owner or defendant had or reasonably should have had sufficient knowledge of the hazard (known as actual and constructive notice). You or your lawyer may need to prove that the slip and fall accident risk existed on the property for an unreasonable amount of time, and that the property owner therefore should have noticed it and had it remedied. An attorney can help you prove this case element with evidence such as property maintenance logs, surveillance footage, witness testimony and photographs of the accident scene.
Pre-Existing Injury Defense
Depending on their nature, your injuries may be difficult to prove in a slip and fall accident case. If you suffered a soft-tissue injury, for example, it may not show up on x-rays. To further complicate things, an insurance company may examine your medical history to look for pre-existing injuries or conditions to use against you. If your slip and fall accident exacerbated a pre-existing injury, you will still be eligible for financial compensation. However, it may be difficult to secure the settlement that you deserve if the property owner uses a prior injury or condition against you.
Statute of Limitations Defense
Every state has a statute of limitations, or a law that places a deadline on an accident victim’s ability to file a personal injury claim. Florida’s statute of limitations is four years from the date of the accident, in most cases. If you file after four years have passed from your slip and fall, expect this defense to be raised by the defendant. Other procedural problems can also be used against you, such as a lack of proof of your losses or incomplete claims forms. Hire an attorney to take over your claim early on in the process to avoid these issues.
How Can an Attorney Help You?
An attorney will carefully analyze your case to anticipate any potential defenses that may be raised. Then, your lawyer will prepare to combat these defenses with proven arguments and legal strategies. A lawyer in Tampa can help you prove your claim and demonstrate the defendant’s liability using compelling evidence and storytelling. Throughout the legal process, your lawyer will be your advocate. For more information about what to expect during a slip and fall claim, contact Vanguard Attorneys to request a free consultation.