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South Florida Personal Injury Question – Expert Advice

March 11, 2010

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

Question:

I fell coming out of a hall that was rented for a party. No hand rails were provided. It was one big 10 1/2 inch drop which is a code violation in the city I live in. I sustained a servere tibia and fibula break and needed surgery with pins and screws. I now have permanent damage and I also have a partial tearing of the distal achilles and posterior tibial tendons and a complete tear of the medial deltoid from my fall. Are you able to tell me what kind of settlement I should be looking to get money-wise?

Answer:

I can try to provide you with some helpful information about your fall, but please consult with an attorney in your area to determine whether you have a valid claim.  Your email does not indicate where you live.  I am a South Florida personal injury attorney specializing in serious accidents such as car accidents, trip and falls, and work accidents.  Laws vary from state to state so the law in your area may be different that in Florida.

It is difficult to estimate what the settlement value of your claim might be without a lot more information.  The first issue you need to deal with in a discussion of an injury settlement value is whether the property owner/manager is liable for your fall.  A code violation is usually a good indication that the property was not maintained in a reasonably safe condition.  But, codes also vary, so there may not be a requirement that a railing be present.  A 10 1/2 inch vertical drop on a stair is a very large drop, and at least in South Florida, is in violation of stairway building codes.

Another issue you would have to deal with in Florida is comparative negligence – why you did not see the 10 1/2 step and take extra precautions to go down it in light of the large riser height.  Juries in Florida can consider whether the person injured was at fault, and if so, assigned a percentage of liability to the person.  Any damages award would be reduced accordingly.  This is also an issue in presuit negotiations.

Once you get past the hurdle of liability against the property owner, and the issue of comparative negligence, you can start to estimate settlement range.  In a South Florida personal injury case, a jury can consider three main categories of damages – wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.  All of these types of damages can be awarded for the past, and the future.  The injuries you listed are very serious, so I would expect you have a large amount of medical bills.  You may also need follow up care resulting in a significant amount of future medical bills.  Because of the severity of the injuries, it would also be reasonable to request a significant amount of money for pain and suffering.

The best advice I can give you is to speak with an attorney specializing in trip and fall injury accidents in your area to see whether you should pursue a claim.  An experienced trip and fall lawyer is going to know the laws in your area and how best to proceed.  Most slip and fall lawyers handle cases on a contingent basis which means if the lawyer does not recover any money for your claim, there is no charge for costs or attorney’s fees.  Most Florida accident injury lawyers will also offer a free, no-obligation consultation, so you have nothing to lose by meeting to discuss your claim. 

An experienced accident injury lawyer will also know how to assist you in getting, and paying for, medical care.  You can use your health insurance if you have it, the insurance company for the property owner may have medical payments coverage which would pay for some of your bills, or the lawyer may be able to arrange for your medical care to be reimbursed out of the proceeds of any settlement you receive.

It is best to explore making a claim soon after the accident occurred.  In Florida, you have four years from the date of the accident to bring a claim.  However, you don’t want to wait that long as witnesses disappear and their memories fade, code violations get fixed, and evidence can be lost.  Your attorney will also want to get pictures of the area where you fell before any repairs are made to it.

If you are in the south Florida area, please give me a call.  I have been specializing in accident injury claims including slip and fall cases for 17 years.  If you’re in an area other than Florida, I can probably still refer you to an experienced slip and fall attorney in your area.

For more information about a South Florida personal 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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