Slip and Fall Case at a Restaurant

Question: 2 weeks ago I had lunch at a large chain restaurant, when I stood up to leave my foot slipped on the carpet.  When my foot slipped I lost my balance there was nothing to grab I tried to “catch myself”, my I had no traction and rolled my foot twice before I went down, I knew I had done something bad to my ankle because I almost threw up and wet my pants.  A waitress came over and asked if I was OK I told her no the manager came over to get me up I advised him I cannot get up I have done something bad to my ankle he left came back with ice an ice pack a patron of the restaurant came over to help no one ese while I was still on the floor he manager brought the ice asked if I wanted to fill out an incident report and continued trying to get me to get up,I had a 2 and 5 y/o with me.  My concern was with them the pain and the overwhelming knowledge that I needed to get to thehospital 40 miles away I told him no. The rest is rather hazey because it hurt so bad. I got to the car I put the kids in and called my dauhgter to meet me at the hospital.  Ankle is broken, off work until at least mid Sept. My daughter called the restaurant (who did not ask my name or if I needed an ambulance). She gave my information, over 2 weeks later no one has called from the restaurant.  The carpet is regular carpet but was slick any thoughts? I am not a sue happy person but feel they have some liability. I am out at least 3000 plus I used my health insurance.  Thanks

Answer: Debby, having suffered a broken ankle, you should definitely look into making whether a claim can be made for your fall.  Broken bones, especially a joint like the ankle which you are putting weight on every day, usually cause long term problems such as arthritis and degenerative changes. The $3000 you are out now may become much more depending on how your ankle heals.

There are many factors which need to be considered to determine whether you’ll have a successful claim.  For starters, your email does not indicate in what state you live.  I am a personal injury lawyer in Florida specializing in car accident claims, slip and fall claims, and workers compensation claims.  If your claim occurred in Florida, my suggestion is to give me a call toll-free at (866) 556-5529 to discuss your claim in detail. Laws vary from state to state, so the law for slip and falls in Florida maybe quite different than the laws where you live.

Secondly, if you are going to make a claim, you should speak to an attorney now, rather than wait, especially if an incident report was not done.  The incident report is used to document the claim, how it happened, witnesses, etc, and then put the restaurant’s insurance company on notice of the claim. When people get calls after a fall, it is usually from the insurance company, not the restaurant itself.

Claims in Florida are evaluated based upon the degree of liability that exists against the property owner, 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 at a business, 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 business owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition that caused the fall.  Generally, a business owner only owes two duties to persons lawfully on the property – 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.

Your email indicates the the carpet was “slick”.  You don’t usually encounter carpet that is slick, so the question becomes why was it slick. It could have been cleaned recently, there could have been some type liquid or food on it, or maybe it was slick from a previous spill.  You, and/or your attorney, are going to be required to give the insurance company an explanation of why the carpet was an unreasonable dangerous condition, as opposed to just regular carpet that you stepped on the wrong way.  At least in Florida, you will also need to show that the restaurant knew or should have known the carpet was slick, prior to your fall.

The best advice I can give you is to speak with an attorney that specializes in premises liability claims, i.e. a slip and fall.  The attorney can advise you what the law is in your area for slip and fall accidents such as yours. There are many steps your attorney should take now, i.e. notify the insurance company for the restaurant, find out what types of insurance coverages are available, including whether any medical payments coverage exists.  You’ll want to check to see whether there have been claims similar to yours that occurred at the location.  You also want to check to see if the restaurant has surveillance cameras that may have captured your fall.

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 offer a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss whether you have a viable case. You have nothing to lose to at least speak to an accident injury lawyer to see whether you have a claim, and also get a better idea of the value of your claim.  Keep in mind that there are also statutes of limitations which may apply and preclude you from bringing a claim if you wait too long.

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