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Tennis Slip and Fall Injury (Questions about Florida Personal Injury Cases) – Expert Advice

September 7, 2009

The following is an expert answer given by Florida Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and is taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:

Subject: Slip & Fall Injury

Question: In Feb of 08, I fell while playing tennis and fractured a wrist.
The tennis courts are in my neighborhood and are managed by a private
company.  After my fall I learned that the tennis courts were known to have
subsurface defects which caused rippling.  An employee of the management
company told me to file a claim with their insurance company.  I sent a
demand letter with documentation about the court defects and all of my
medical bills.  At first they denied the claim stating the cracks were near
the net posts.  They offered $5000 for medical.  Each time I sent them more
documentation that the defects were known to the management company, they
would deny saying I had not shown that the company knew of the defects.  The
third time they denied, they rescinded the original offer for medical payment.
This time they said I needed a photograph.  I have given them copies of
minutes, a report to the CDD telling of the hazardous conditions etc.  I
have asked a supervisor to review the claim.  My medical expenses were
$10,000.  I think I have provided reasonable proof that the management
company should have put up a sign when they first were aware of the defects.
The courts were repaved in June of 08.  The insurance company says it was
done for aesthetics, but I don’t think anyone would repave tennis courts
after only four years for aesthetics. Any advice would be appreciated.

Answer: Your email does not indicate what state you live in.  In
order to give you advice on the law in your area, you will need to speak
with a premises liability lawyer in your area.  I am a personal injury
lawyer in Florida and specialize in car accident claims, cases that involve a Florida slip and fall injury, and workers compensation claims.  Laws vary from state to
state so the law in Florida may be different than your state.  Your email
does indicate you were playing tennis in February, so maybe you do live in
Florida.

You most likely have a claim for payment of your medical bills, and, a claim
for your injury and pain and suffering.  The insurance company probably
offered you the $5,000 because they have medical payments coverage on their
insurance policy.  "Medpay" is coverage that will reimburse people that get
injured on the property for out of pocket medical expenses.  You need to get
a copy of the property manager’s insurance policy to see whether they have
medpay, and if so, what are the medpay policy limits.

You also can make a claim in Florida for the injury itself.  Claims in
a Florida slip and fall injury are evaluated based upon the degree of liability that exists against
the property manager, the specific nature of the injury, the amount and type
of medical care and bills that you have had, and that you may continue to
require in the future, and the amount of pain and suffering you have
experienced in the past, and future.  Lost wages and loss of future earning
capacity can also be recovered in Florida.

Keep in mind, at least in Florida, just because a person falls on a
property, it does not automatically mean the property owner or manager is
responsible for injuries which result from the fall.  You have to be able to
prove that the property manager knew or should have known of the dangerous
condition that caused the fall, i.e. "subsurface defects which caused
rippling", or that they failed to maintain the tennis courts in a reasonably
safe condition.  Generally, a property owner or property manager only owes
two duties to persons lawfully on the property – to maintain the property in a
reasonably safe condition, and to warn persons on the property of dangerous
conditions that the person may not be able to appreciate themselves.  It
sounds like you may have enough documentation to prove that the management
company knew or should have known of the court defects.

One issue you are going to have to deal with if you make a claim is whether
you also knew about the court defect.  If you knew about it, and you
continued to play despite the defect, a jury can hold you responsible for
your accident.  In a Florida slip and fall injury case, this is known as comparative negligence, and a
jury can divide the liability between you and the property manager, i.e.
property manager is 70% liable and you are 30%, or vice versa, or any
combination as long as it adds up to 100%.

The best advice I can give you is to speak with an attorney that specializes
in premises liability claims, i.e. trip and fall.  The attorney can advise
you what the law is in your area for trip and fall accidents such as yours.
Many attorneys say they do "personal injury" claims, but after asking
around, you’ll find they take anything that walks in the door.  Ask how many
claims like yours they have handled.  Ask them if they have tried any cases
like yours.  If the courts are owned by a large development, maybe there
have been other claims against the company for the same problem.

You should contact an attorney soon.  There are many steps your attorney
should take now, i.e. notify the insurance company for the property manager,
find out what types of coverage are available. Hopefully, you took
photographs before the courts were resurfaced.  There are also statutes of
limitations which may apply and preclude you from bringing a claim if you
wait too long. Most attorneys specializing in premises liability claims handle the claims
on a contingent basis,i.e. the attorneys fee is a percentage of any money
they recover for you, and most offer a free, no-obligation consultation to
discuss whether you have a viable case.

If you are in Florida, I would be interested in speaking to you further
about your claim.

For more information about a Florida slip and fall injury, contact Florida premises liability lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.mauslawfirm.com, or email him today.

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