Walking through the palm-lined streets or busy malls in Florida, you rarely anticipate tripping over something and suddenly finding yourself on the ground. Yet, slip and fall accidents are common and often much more serious than a mere stumble. Luckily, accident victims have legal options.
Florida’s laws have recently changed, tightening the timeframe to act after such accidents. This new update adds another layer of urgency to an already stressful situation. If you have suffered a slip and fall injury due to someone else’s negligence, contact us at The Law Offices of Scott J Senft for a free consultation.
Premises Liability Law in a Slip and Fall Case in Florida
Slip and fall cases in Florida involve someone getting injured by slipping, tripping, or falling because of a hazardous condition on someone else’s property. This could be a wet floor, a loose carpet, an uneven sidewalk, or anything that makes the property unsafe.
Slip and fall cases are part of a bigger area of law known as “premises liability,” which deals with accidents occurring on property owned by someone other than the injured party (plaintiff). The key legal concept here is that property owners, managers, and occupiers have a duty to keep the said property safe. This means they should regularly check for hazards and either fix them or warn people about them.
To recover compensation for your medical bills and other damages, you must prove that the other party knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and failed to address it or warn about it. This is known as proving negligence.
Imagine you’re in a grocery store and there is a spilled liquid on the aisle that has been there for a while. If you fall and get injured because the store did not clean it up or put up a warning sign, you might have a personal injury case to recover financial compensation for your medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
That said, the most important thing to keep in mind here is the time limit. Florida has specific rules regarding how long you have to take legal action for damages.
The Statute of Limitations for Slip and Fall Accident Cases in Florida
What is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit. Think of it as an alarm clock that starts ticking the moment an accident happens. If the deadline to file a slip and fall claim is missed, you may be barred from suing for damages for your slip and fall accident. This rule exists to ensure fairness. As time passes, evidence might get lost, memories can fade, and it could be difficult for someone to defend themselves against old claims.
When does the Statute of Limitations Apply?
In slip and fall claims, this statute comes into play from the day your injury occurs. This is when you can start legal proceedings against the negligent property owner or manager for their actions — or lack thereof — that led to your injuries. If this time limit expires, the court is likely to dismiss your case.
Shortened Deadline to File a Claim in Florida
According to the Florida Tort Reform HB 837 that went into effect on March 24, 2023, the statute of limitations for premises liability claims has been reduced from four years to two years. With the previous four-year window, fall victims had a relatively long period to decide whether to pursue legal action. This longer duration offered more time for obtaining evidence from the scene, collecting witness statements, obtaining medical records, and negotiating with the defendants.
Now, with only two years to do this all, the timeline for action has become more pressing. This means you must act more swiftly to assess your situation. Consult with a Florida slip and fall lawyer to discuss filing a lawsuit. The shorter window has already started affecting how insurance companies approach these accidents. Many insurers offer lowball settlements because the injured victims have less time to prepare for a slip-and-fall lawsuit.
Shorter Notice of Claim Period if the Accident Occurred on a Public Property
You Can Sue for Injury on a Public Property
Different statutes of limitations apply when you fall on premises owned by the government, such as public sidewalks, parks, and libraries. Historically, governments were protected by a legal doctrine known as “sovereign immunity,” which essentially meant that the government could not be sued without its consent.
However, over time, statutes have been enacted that waive this immunity to some extent. It is now possible to file charges against government organizations, but there are limitations on the time window and the amount of recoverable damages.
Notice of Claim in Florida
When suing a federal, state, or municipal agency in Florida, your slip-and-fall lawyers need to send a formal notice of the claim to the correct government office within a certain timeframe, which is usually shorter than the regular two-year statute. This may be anywhere from 30 days to 180 days depending on the agency.
Notifying the State Agency and DFS
If you are injured by a state government agency, you must notify that agency as well as the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) in writing within three years of the accident. After the notice is submitted, there is a mandatory 180-day investigation period. You cannot file a lawsuit until this investigation period has ended unless your slip and fall claim is formally denied during this period.
Get a Dedicated Slip and Fall Attorney in Florida on Your Side
Tackling slip-and-fall lawsuits is a race against time as important evidence could be lost and you might also lose negotiating power with the defendants. The sooner your fall accident lawyer files your claim, the better your chances of obtaining the maximum fall settlement. At The Law Offices of Scott J Senft, we have more than 25 years of experience fighting for and winning fair compensation for injured victims. Give us a call at (954) 505-2183 to schedule your free consultation today.