What Should I Do If I Slip And Fall At A St. Petersburg, Florida Business?

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Now I know that whenever you hear about a slip and fall you think of those corny “ I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” commercials that only apply to the elderly. However, the truth is that a Slip and Fall can happen to anyone, even you! A Slip and Fall injury occurs when you trip over an object or uneven walkway, hole in a path or even when you slip on a wet surface.1 Regardless of your physicality or age these injuries do happen and can have permanent effects on your quality of life. These injuries may leave you asking questions like; “Will I be able to work again?” “Will I ever be able to walk without a cane?” “Will I be able to support my family?” “When will the pain stop?”

For example, a young woman recently fell on a poorly constructed sidewalk at a church located in Palm Beach County. The women sustained injuries that resulted in four surgeries, with two more remaining. Although no amount of money will ever make her whole, a jury was able to compensate her $2.5 million dollars for her injuries.2 The reality is; while we never expect these things to happen, they come and go in a split second and have lasting impressions on our lives.

The fact is that these types of injures happen all the time and you should know that Florida has made it increasingly difficult to recover damages, even when you were injured through no fault of your own.3 In 2010, Florida amended its laws in favor of corporations and insurance carriers imposing a greater burden upon YOU (the plaintiff) in Slip and Fall cases. While this may seem unfair; as the law stands, the burden of proof is completely on YOU! This in turn gives business owners and insurance companies a much better chances of not compensating those that have been injured.

YOUR RIGHTS

In Florida, whenever you walk into a business you are given the status of an “invitee,” which essentially is a person who comes into a store to conduct some sort of business. As an invitee you are given the most protections available at law, as opposed to trespassers who receive no protections whatsoever. Say, for example, you walk into a Wal-Mart to purchase a bottle of water; in this case you would be classified as an invitee. As an invitee, the business owes you two duties: (1) a duty to use reasonable care in maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition and (2) a duty to warn you of any dangers which should be known to the owner and which are unknown and cannot be discovered by the invitee.4 Basically, the store must do its part to make sure that the store is free of all hazards, such as objects on the floor, wet surfaces, holes and anything else that may cause harm to its customers/invitees. Further, the store has to warn the invitee of known dangers.

NOTICE

Now so far it may seem simple, the floor was wet and I fell. Now they have to compensate me, right? I wish it was that simple, but in order to make your claim for recovery you have to prove that the business you visited knew (had notice) of the hazard that injured you and failed to fix it. There are two ways to prove notice; (1) Actual Notice and (2) Constructive Notice.  Though actual notice is self-explanatory, actual knowledge of a hazard is generally very hard to prove and therefore, most of the time you have to prove your case through constructive notice.  Constructive notice is proven through inferences and circumstances, such as the hazard existed for an unreasonably long duration, or that the hazard occurred so regularly that it was a common occurrence at the store.5 However, the new laws only allow inferences to be made after all other reasonable possible outcomes have been made. Therefore, it is key that a detailed investigation takes place immediately after the accident to ensure that all-possible causes of the fall are considered.

TIMING

The most important thing to remember is that if you think you have suffered a Slip and Fall injury see your doctor immediately! You will be unable to prove injuries without medical records and/or bills. Every day you wait may potentially reduce the value of your case. The reason is that the longer you delay, the more the owner and insurance companies will argue that your fall did not cause the injuries. They will also argue that the injury was not as severe as you claim.

With Slip and Fall cases becoming increasingly harder to prove, making a wrong move could be costly. At risk are your medical costs, lost wages (both now and future), disability and emotional peace of mind. When you are injured you may find yourself against a large corporation with even larger resources, and that is not something you should go through alone.  After suffering an injury you may be offered a quick settlement, however you should strongly consider seeking the advice and help of an attorney before signing anything. A skilled attorney can defend your claim and give you the best chances of maximum recovery.  The lawyers at Berkowitz & Myer will guide you through this troubling experience and help you maximize your recovery.  Call us today or go to www.berkmyer.com to learn more.

 

  1. http://www.attorneys.com/personal-injury/slip-and-fall/florida/florida-slip-fall-law-basics
  2. http://injuryattorneyflorida.com/florida-slip-fall-settlement-amounts-2014/
  3. http://www.meldonlaw.com/library/new-changes-to-florida-s-slip-and-fall-law-are-detrimental-for-victims/
  4. Tallent v. Pilot Travel Ctrs., LLC, 137 So. 3d 616, 617 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014).
  5. Stat. § 768.0755 (2016).

 

 

Top 5 Reasons People Consult With A Bankruptcy Attorney In St. Petersburg, Florida

Drowning in debt business and finance concept with the word icon sinking under a sparkling reflection of blue pool of water as a symbol of financial problems to pay debts owing resulting in budget management desperation.

I get asked all the time, “why do people file for bankruptcy?”  It sounds like a pretty straightforward question that should allow for a pretty straightforward answer, right?  Not so fast.  Yes, there are some standard reasons for bankruptcy that would appear on most everyone’s “Top 5” list.  When I get asked that question, the person asking is usually interested in hearing about what is going on in our community these days.  That is why, in order to answer the question “why do people see a  bankruptcy lawyer,” you have to take into account time and location.  For example, if someone was asking that question in Akron, Ohio in 1980, I am pretty sure the # 1 answer would be “because of all the rubber factories closing.”  If someone were curious about bankruptcy filings in 2001, you might get an answer involving the dot-com bubble that caused havoc on the economy back then.   If someone had asked me that question in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2009, the #1 answer on the board (Family Feud style) would have been “real estate.”

Having practiced bankruptcy law in the area for about 15 years, I have met a lot of people seeking bankruptcy advice.  As I stated earlier, the reasons people file has changed over the years.  I compiled my list through consultations with prospective bankruptcy clients.  Generally speaking, the very first question I ask someone that has come to me for advice is, “what brings you in today?”  That person’s #1 reason will usually be the first thing they say in response to that question.  I might hear, “my ex-husband left me drowning in debt!” or “a car accident left me with bills I cannot pay.”  My list is based on real life examples I’ve encountered in my practice.  While some might question the scientific accuracy of my list, I call it like I see it.  So, on to my current “Top 5” list of reasons people visiting with bankruptcy attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida:

#5  DIVORCE

It is often said that money is the number one stress factor in relationships.  That stress often gets compounded when relationships end.  The math alone is pretty easy to follow:  a two-income family has now become two, one-income individuals.  You may have been a very conscientious budgeter during your marriage.   Your bills might have all been paid timely and you seemed to have things under control.  However, if a family law judge decides that you have to pay your debts AND your spouse’s debts, and you have to do so with half the income you had before, you can see where things get dicey.  People considering divorce, going through divorce, or are recently divorced, often seek the counsel of a bankruptcy attorney.

#4  MEDICAL BILLS

Yes, medical bills can be a killer.  You may be thinking, “but Jesse, so many more people have insurance these days.”  You’re technically correct.  However, so many of the medical insurance plans offered today have high deductibles and co-pays, leaving consumers with thousands of dollars they cannot afford to pay.  It is tough to budget for an unforeseen illness or injury.  The respected financial website Nerdwallet.com recently found that medical expenses are the number one reason for bankruptcies nationwide (1).

#3 JOB LOSS

Job loss will be on just about everyone’s “reasons for bankruptcy” list.  No matter how wise a saver or regimented a budgeter you may be, being out of work for a prolonged period of time can lead to bankruptcy.  Large companies go through layoffs.  Small companies go out of business.  It can be particularly troubling when you are almost at retirement age, but not quite there.  Although age discrimination is technically illegal, the majority of employers aren’t going to want to throw resources and time into bringing on an older prospective employee.  It’s not right and it’s not fair, but it happens every day.  The financial counselors at LSS Financial rank job loss as a top 3 reason for bankruptcy filings (2).

#2 POOR BUDGETING

Some say it’s a generational thing.  I’m told that people that grew up during the great depression had a good sense of what to spend, what to save, and what to invest.  Later on, people learned how fun credit cards could be.  “Sure I can’t afford to buy it, but I want it, so I’ll charge it!”  We’ve all done it.  While it is tough to budget for an unforeseen event (illness, job loss, divorce, etc…), you need to save.  Financial experts at CNN recommend saving 10% to 15% of your income (3).  This reason for bankruptcies in St. Petersburg is a little unique compared to the rest.  People do not generally like to come out and announce, “I’m here because I am terrible at budgeting.”  I’ve had to read between the lines, look at the facts, and come to my own conclusions for this one.

#1 REAL ESTATE

Yep, still number one.  But the market has come back, right?  Actually, yes it has.  Real estate lawyer guru, Matthew Weidner, recently wrote an article about “how St. Petersburg is the HOTTEST real estate market in the country” (4).  Attorney Weidner is correct, but there is so much lingering damage from the Great Recession.  Many homes are still underwater.  Balloon payments on mortgages are becoming due and there’s not enough equity to refinance.  People come to me for all sorts of financial issues, but “help me save my home” or “help me get out of this mortgage debt” are the two things I hear the most.

So there it is, my Top 5 list.  In reality, many folks fall into multiple categories.  It is not unusual for someone to get injured, lose his job, and then face foreclosure as a result.  Whatever your reason for financial concern (top 5 or not), rest assured that we’ve heard it before and we’ve helped people just like you.  You have options!  A wise first step is taking advantage of Berkowitz & Myer’s no-cost consultations.  Call us to learn more.  We are here to help you.

(1) https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/health/medical-bankruptcy/

(2) http://blog.conqueryourdebt.org/2012/11/05/the-top-3-reasons-people-file-bankruptcy-and-tips-to-avoid-them/

(3) http://money.cnn.com/retirement/guide/basics_basics.moneymag/index7.htm

(4) https://mattweidnerlaw.com/st-petersburg-hottest-real-estate-market-country/

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