In Florida, as in every state, the vast majority of slip and fall claims reach a settlement, with very few cases ever making it to trial. In fact, many are resolved through the insurance claim process, without a lawsuit ever being filed in Florida court. But how might a slip and fall settlement play out in the Sunshine State?
The following example illustrates the key elements and lifecycle of a typical slip and fall settlement in Florida. (Remember that every case is unique, and the outcome and timeline of your slip and fall claim will surely vary somewhat.)
After an exciting morning touring the Kennedy Space Center, Kenny stopped for lunch with his mom and aunt at the Gator Bites Café. At age 12, Kenny was fascinated by space exploration and had just downloaded to his tablet an app that provided more detail about the exhibits he saw at KSC. While his mom went to order some food, Kenny followed his aunt to a booth near the back of the café as he configured his new app.
As Kenny started to enter the booth on his right, his left foot slipped out from under him. He did not see the paper napkin on the floor and the fried piece of gator with sauce on it underneath the napkin. His mouth hit the corner of the table, knocking out a large piece of his left tooth, and his left elbow struck the concrete floor. So did his iPad.
X-rays at the ER showed a nondisplaced fracture of the ulna, which meant that the bone of the little finger side of the forearm broke completely, but the ends remained aligned. The ER physician referred Kenny to an orthopedist and sent him home with an ice pack and an elbow splint. Learn more about the importance of seeking medical care after an accident.
The orthopedist put Kenny's elbow in a cast for six weeks and prescribed physical therapy afterwards to restore the elbow's range of motion.
Kenny's tooth broke diagonally, leaving about half the tooth intact. Kenny's dentist decided the best treatment was to cap or crown the tooth.
To Kenny, his greatest loss was his beloved and fully-loaded iPad Air, which was "totaled," as Kenny put it, when it shattered on the floor.
Kenny had four years in which to file a lawsuit for his injury and property damage under the Florida statute of limitations.
Age, good health and good luck aided Kenny's healing, and hisattorney sent a demand letter just three months after the accident:
The letter asserted that Gator Bites management knew about the food on the floor under Kenny's table because a manager had instructed an employee to clean it up at least an hour before the accident. The employee admitted he knew about the food on the floor and had neglected to clean it up promptly. His failure to clean the floor when instructed created the hazardous condition that caused Kenny's injury. It was reasonably foreseeable that a guest like Kenny would slip on the sauced piece of fried gator, and be injured. (Learn more about proving fault for a slip and fall.)
The demand letter also spelled out Kenny's damages stemming from his slip and fall accident, including the cost of his medical and dental care and the cost to replace the iPad Air.
Kenny's total compensatory damages amounted to $6,500. His attorney decided that another $16,250 was appropriate to compensate Kenny for his pain and suffering. The total demand was $22,750.
In support of the claim, the letter included:
The insurance company responded with a letter rejecting the demand and offering to settle the matter for $10,000. The insurance company asserted that, under the legal theory of comparative negligence in Florida, which would partially offset any liability on Gator Bites' part, Kenny shared the fault for his own injuries by not watching where he was going and, instead, fixating on his iPad. (More: What if I am partly at fault for my slip and fall accident?)
Additionally, the insurance company argued that Kenny's aunt was negligent, since she walked ahead of him to the table, knew he was engrossed in his iPad app, and yet failed to warn her young nephew about the food on the floor, the presence of which should have been obvious to her.
After several injury settlement negotiation conversations between the insurance company and Kenny's attorney, the insurance company made a final offer of $14,500. Kenny and his mom discussed the offer with the attorney, considering the costs and attorney's fees if a lawsuit were filed and the case went to trial, and the uncertainty of how a jury might decide the case. Kenny's mom accepted the settlement offer on Kenny's behalf (since, at 12 years of age, Kenny is a minor).
Get details about Florida laws that might affect a slip and fall case. And to make sure your rights are protected, you might want to discuss your situation with a legal professional and see if it makes sense to have a lawyer on your side.
Learn more about how an attorney can help after an accident or injury, and get tips on finding the right personal injury lawyer. You can also use the features on this page to connect with a Florida injury attorney near you.