The law is full of important time limits and deadlines, and if you are not careful you can permanently damage your personal injury case due to lack of timeliness. MANGAL, PLLC is experienced in its slip and fall practice and handles all types of slip and fall cases. We are frequently asked questions about Florida slip and fall cases, and thus provide the following guide as a dedicated resource to help answer your inquiries.
Florida Slip and Fall Frequently Asked Questions:
The frequently asked questions below are important to ask and can impact your slip and fall case.
Continue reading below to learn more about each of these questions in order.
Q1: How Long Do You Have to Go to the Doctor After a Slip and Fall?
This is, oddly enough, perhaps my most frequently asked question regarding slip and fall cases. My best guess is that people have heard about treatment deadlines in other contexts, such as auto accident cases, and wonder if similar requirements might apply in a slip and fall case. There is NO formal deadline for obtaining medical treatment in a Florida slip and fall case. HOWEVER, the statute of limitations still applies. Conversely, in other personal injury cases, such as auto accidents, there are deadlines such as the 14-Day Rule (you must seek accident-injury related treatment within 14 days of the accident to maintain eligibility for PIP).
Technically, No Deadline for Medical Treatment; Statute of Limitations Still Applies
In slip and fall cases (and in premises liability cases, in general), there is no formal time limit within which treatment must be rendered for a valid legal claim. Pay close attention to these words, however. While there is no formal time limit on when you must see a doctor after your injury, the statute of limitations still applies to your legal claim overall.
Slip and Fall Statute of Limitations
For premises liability cases (the parent category within which slip and fall cases are a subset), the statute of limitations in Florida is four (4) years. This means that you have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the offending party. Make no mistake, however: this does not mean that you may wait four years to seek treatment for your injuries. You have four years to file the lawsuit, which means you will want the foundation of your case to be already developed well before that.
For Best Results, Seek Treatment Within 72 Hours of Accident
For best results, if you are injured in a slip and fall or trip and fall accident (or you are hurt in any other way on someone else’s property), you should IMMEDIATELY seek legal counsel to determine next steps. Generally speaking, if you are injured and you believe you require (or will require at some later point) medical treatment for your injuries, you should get this set up ASAP. I always recommend that clients schedule their first doctor’s visit within 72 hours of their date of injury. If that time has already passed, then it is CRITICAL that clients seek treatment at the next earliest possibility.
The reason for the time sensitivity in treatment is simple: preservation and validation of evidence. When you are injured to no fault of your own and you decide to pursue a personal injury case, your injuries themselves become evidence within the case. If you wait too long to seek treatment, you risk two possible outcomes: (1) your injuries begin to heal before you reach the doctor and thus your medical records have a suboptimal assessment of your accident-related injuries; and/or (2) even if the injuries are severe enough to where the doctor can document them at a later date, a large gap or lapse in treatment significantly weakens the emotional impact of your case, which ultimately affects the case’s value. For example, if you were injured on January 1, 2020 but did not seek treatment until March 1, 2020, even if the medical records clearly indicate injuries related to your accident, any member of any random jury will look at that gap and subconsciously ask themselves “how injured could this person really be if they waited that long for treatment?” Insurance companies know this and will knock down the value of your case if they detect large gaps in your medical treatment. (There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. Generally speaking, the larger or more suspect the gap in treatment, the better your attorney must be at articulating the cause for such delay. Do not risk damaging your case due to inexperienced attorney representation. Contact Attorney Mangal 24/7 for expert guidance on how to structure your slip and fall case.)
Q2: How long do slip and fall settlements take?
Slip and fall settlements, on average, take longer than most other personal injury settlements, such as car accidents or motorcycle accidents. It is a frustrating reality, but one that must be acknowledged and anticipated.
RELATED: “How Much to Expect from a Car Accident Settlement”
Florida slip and fall settlements take a long time because, for the most part, they almost always require filing suit. Though slip and fall cases fall within the category of personal injury cases, they are unique in nature and fundamentally different than other personal injury cases, such as auto accidents, for example. This is because unlike auto accidents, liability is rarely clear cut in premises cases.
In the absence of a police report (which would ordinarily exist in the case of a car accident but would not ordinarily exist in the case of a slip and fall accident), establish fault among the parties often becomes an issue of “he said, she said.” And thus, the only way to sift through the parties’ allegations and find out the actual truth is to file a lawsuit and compel formal answers to your questions through discovery.
Having an experienced litigation attorney on your side can make a major difference in the timing of a slip and fall case, particularly because they so often require filing a lawsuit. Attorney Mangal does not shy away from lawsuits and fights each and every one himself. Contact him right away for expert guidance on your slip and fall case.
Q3: What to do after a slip and fall accident?
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, you have come to the right place for guidance on next steps. For the purposes of this article, I will keep the following to-do list brief. Call me or email me if you have specific questions or want clarification on any of the following.
Immediate steps to take after a slip and fall accident:
Immediately notify any applicable property owner and/or store manager. You want documentation of your injuries and, more specifically, you want them to have documentation of your injuries. Ensuring that this record is created is key to your case. If possible, do your best to also obtain a copy of this documentation. If they ask you to fill out any forms, make sure you do not sign anything without having an attorney first review the paperwork.
Step 2: Collect Witness Contact Information & Seize All Further Communication.
There is a delicate balance between collecting witness information and avoiding discussion of your case. If anyone witnessed your fall or injury, collect their name, address, and phone number before they leave the scene. Their testimony could later prove immensely useful in establishing the foundation of your case. Be aware, however, that you want to avoid at all costs any needless discussion of the specifics of your case. Any discussions you have with them could later be used against you in your case, so you want to keep your conversation to an absolute minimum, confirm their having witnessed the accident, and collect their contact information. Do not discuss your case with any business personnel either beyond providing them with your initial description of what happened. Avoid making any representations as to the extent of your injuries or the reasons why you believe it was their fault you were injured.
Step 3: Photograph and/or Video Record the Accident Scene & Your Injuries.
As discussed above, proper evidence is profoundly important in slip and fall cases. You want to photograph the scene of the accident and your injuries, and if you are able, take video footage as well. The more you can document the scene and conditions which caused your injuries, the better.
Also, take particular care with quickly photographing bruises, scrapes, cuts, etc. on your body. Injuries like these can sometimes heal quickly on a superficial level, thereby making it hard to later visualize how, where, and to what extent you were injured. By taking photographs of your injuries while the wounds are still visible, you will have more robust documentation of the total damages caused to you by the subject dangerous condition.
Step 4: Take Detailed Notes on the “Dangerous Condition.”
In slip and fall cases in particular, cases often hinge on fact-specific inquiries such as “How long was the dangerous condition on the property before you were injured?”, or “Did the grocery store have reason to know there was a hazard in the aisle?” At the time of your injury if there is evidence to be found regarding ANY aspect of the dangerous condition which caused your injury (e.g., how long it had been there before your accident, whether it had already been reported to the store by other patrons, whether someone else was actually injured on the same hazard earlier on the same day, etc.), MAKE SURE TO DOCUMENT IT. All of these details can make or break your case, and, more often than not, if you fail to document them at the time of the accident they are lost forever.
Step 5: Seek (Emergency) Medical Treatment.
As discussed above, if you are injured you should immediately seek medical treatment. When you visit your medical provider, be sure to CLEARLY explain to them that you were injured in a slip and fall accident and that you are in their office seeking medical treatment for the resulting injuries. Medical records are an important evidentiary aspect of your case, and you want your records to clearly and consistently show that you are undergoing treatment for injuries related to your slip and fall accident. Be sure to request your medical provider to make note of ALL of your injuries, no matter how minor they may feel at the time. Sometimes injuries can seem minor at first, and it can feel like making note of all your pains is just an exercise in complaining. Avoid this mentality, however. You are doing yourself a major long-term disservice if you fail to document your injuries from the outset of your treatment. For example, if you are injured in your knee and do not make note of it, but a few months down the road your knee pain escalates and now all of a sudden you need knee surgery, it is much more difficult to tie in the costs of this knee surgery to your accident. This is because the record, in such a hypothetical, when read adversely and without context, will indicate that for several months after the accident you had no reports of knee pain, and therefore any knee pain later reported must be unrelated to your accident. Even if you and I know this is not the case, your medical records will still suggest otherwise.
TL;DR: Seek medical treatment ASAP and make note of ALL your injuries to your treating physician/provider.
Step 6: Do NOT Sign Anything!
If the business manager and/or property manager offer you anything that requires a signature, do NOT sign without first having an attorney review the document. The importance of this cannot be understated. If they waive money in front of you in exchange for a signature, chances are they are attempting to purchase a waiver of claims from you. If you are not careful, or too hasty in your decision making, you can permanently damage your case and lose the opportunity to be paid what you DESERVE for your injuries and long-term pain and suffering.
After completing the steps above, the next step in pursuing your claim is finding good legal counsel. Whether you choose MANGAL, PLLC or a different law firm altogether, be sure to find select some form of attorney representation for your case. Sometimes it is tempting to negotiate with the business directly and see if you are able to reach a favorable settlement on your own. In slip and fall cases in particular, however, you should avoid this at all costs. Because premises liability cases are so evidence dependent and complex overall, there is a SIGNIFICANT chance of you settling for less than what you are owed if you go at it alone.
Unlike other law firms, MANGAL, PLLC handles all of its own litigation. Attorney Mangal is experienced in slip and fall cases and is a readily available resource for anyone seeking to learn more about a possible case. For more information, contact MANGAL, PLLC to speak with someone today to learn more about how to best pursue your slip and fall case.
Q4: What to do if you slip and fall in a store?
Fla. Stat. § 768.0755 governs liability related to “transitory foreign substances” in business establishments. Put differently, Section 768.0755 establishes the requirements that must be met for a successful lawsuit against a business for your injuries if they were caused by spills and/or hazards in the store areas and aisles. Notably, this statute stipulates that the offending business must have had “actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition” for it to be held liable for the accident.
Establishing actual and/or constructive knowledge requires good evidence in the form of documentation, witness testimony, photographs, videos, etc. If you slip and fall in a store, beyond following the steps outlined above, be sure to place a special emphasis on the proper reporting and documenting of your claim with the appropriate store manager and/or property owner. Be sure to also make note of any possible video cameras on site (or elsewhere) that may contain footage of the accident. If video evidence exists, IT IS CRUCIAL that you contact an attorney ASAP so that the attorney may send a “spoliation letter” to the business demanding that they preserve the video footage and prevent it from being overwritten in anticipation of a future lawsuit.
Q5: How long do you have to report a slip and fall?
It depends on what you mean by “report.” If you are asking how long you have to report the incident to the store manager and/or property owner, the practical answer is that the incident should be reported IMMEDIATELY after its occurrence. Therefore, if you have not done so already, REPORT IT NOW to the business manager and/or owner. As discussed above, documentation is key, particularly in slip and fall cases.
If, however, your question intends to inquire about how long you have to file a slip and fall claim, the answer is that slip and fall cases are ultimately personal injury cases and thus they have a four (4) year statute of limitations. Thus, you would have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for your injuries.
Q6: How long after a slip and fall can you sue?
The deadline for suing on a slip and fall case is governed by Fla. Stat. § 95.11(3)(a), which provides that the Florida slip and fall statute of limitations is four (4) years. This means that any lawsuit you plan on filing must be stamped with a filing date of less than four years from the day of your accident. Accordingly, the date on which you “discover” your injuries from the accident do not matter.
For example, let’s say you are injured in a trip and fall accident on June 1, 2020 and suffer injuries. Assume the pain from these injuries is minor at first, but after one year’s time, on July 1, 2021, the pain is unbearable and you wish to pursue a claim. If you decide to pursue your claim on July 1, 2021, you still only have until June 1, 2024 to file your lawsuit. In other words, the statute of limitations is based on the date of your accident, not on any other date thereafter.
MANGAL, PLLC Will Win Your Slip and Fall Case
As you have probably gathered by now, Florida slip and fall cases and Florida premises liability cases are complicated in nature and difficult to structure. If you or a loved one were injured in a slip and fall accident, trip and fall accident, or any other accident on a business’s property, parking lot, and/or common area, contact MANGAL, PLLC right away for expert representation and guidance. Attorney Mangal is available as a resource for you 24/7 should you have ANY questions about your case. Thanks for reading!