Premises Liability FAQ

1. I've been injured on someone else's property. What should I do?

First, immediately make provision for your safety and health. If you are injured, make sure that emergency medical services ("EMS") are called. Have EMS examine you and if appropriate, have them transport you to an emergency room for treatment. If you are able, try to obtain the following information:

  • the name and address and of the owner of the property;
  • the name, address and policy number for all insurance companies insuring the property;
  • the name and address of all witnesses to the accident;
  • the name and address of all persons to whom you have reported the incident;

Make sure to immediately report the incident and your injuries to the owner or other person in charge of the property. For example, if you slip and fall in a restaurant or hotel, ask to report the incident to the manager on duty. Do not assume that your injuries are too minor to report. If it turns out the injuries are more serious, then you do not want to have prejudiced your claim by failing to report the incident.

2. Should I take any photos?

After you have provided for your medical care, either you or someone on your behalf should take photos of the scene of the accident. The condition of the premises at the time of the injury will be a pivotal issue in resolving any claim and photos can document that condition. Also, take photos of all physical injuries you have sustained (such as bruises, scrapes, lacerations, etc.).

3. Should I give a statement to the owner's insurance company?

You should not give a statement to the owner's insurance company unless first consulting with and being represented by a Florida personal injury attorney experienced in handling premises liability cases. Furthermore, do not sign any paperwork submitted to you by the owner's insurance company. In no event should you provide any type of Medical Release or Authorization allowing the insurer to obtain your medical records.

4. When should I consult with a personal injury attorney?

If you have been injured in a premises accident, including a slip and fall accident, it is advisable to immediately consult a personal injury attorney experienced in premises liability and slip and fall accidents. Many times the attorney will want to have an investigator or expert make an immediate examination of the premises. The insurance company for the property owner is not your ally regardless of how cooperative or friendly it may seem. That insurance company has attorneys and other resources to try to defeat any claim you assert. In order to be on equal footing, you need to have an injury attorney on your side. Early consultation with an attorney can also help your case in that your attorney may be able to help investigate and document your case. Sometimes a delay results in witnesses and evidence disappearing or becoming more difficult to obtain. The opposing insurance company will be aggressively investigating your case and you need someone doing the same for you.

5. Should I seek medical treatment?

Seek medical treatment immediately. Sometimes what seems like a minor injury can worsen within hours, days or even weeks. If appropriate, be examined at an emergency room or by your family physician as soon after the accident as possible. Ultimately, the course of your medical treatment is something that you and your medical providers must determine. However, delay in seeking treatment can impact both the speed and extent of your recovery as well as the prospect of your making a damages recovery for your injuries. You should seek treatment and if not satisfied, seek a second opinion or inquire into alternate or additional types of diagnosis and treatment. Most important, follow your medical provider's recommendations.

6. What duties does a property owner owe to me?

If you are lawfully on the property of another, especially a business open to the public, the owner (and the occupant if the owner has leased the property) owes a duty to make safe any dangerous conditions and to warn of any such dangerous conditions which are not open and obvious to a reasonable person. Most of the time, the law's application of an owner's duty is determined by the relationship to the injured party. For example, is the injured party on the property in connection with a business purpose or as an invited person? The particular status of the injured party can effect the duty owed. Regardless, of your relationship to the owner, you should seek the advice of a premises liability injury attorney to assist in investigating your claim and advising you on the duty owed and how that duty may have been breached.

7. Who will pay for my injuries?

In a premises accident, many times the owner's insurance includes what is called "medical payment benefits" ("Med Pay"). If this coverage is available, you are entitled to have your medical bills paid regardless of whether the owner was at fault. For example, if you slip and fall while at a business, if that business has Med Pay coverage, your bills may be paid regardless of whether the owner was at fault. If there is no Med Pay coverage, you could look to your own health insurance to pay your medical bills. In addition, many times your own homeowner's insurance may provide coverage for injuries you suffer. The advice of an experienced injury attorney can assist in investigating available insurance coverage and assuring that you get all benefits to which you are entitled.

8. How do I find an experienced premises liability personal injury attorney?

The name of a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling injuries arising from premises liability, including slip and falls, assaults, battery, and falling objects, can be found much like finding other professionals, including by asking friends and family, doing research on the internet and elsewhere and through lawyer search sites such as www.findlaw.com, www.martindale.com and www.lawyers.com. Although some personal injury lawyers advertise, your selection of an attorney based on advertising alone is not a reliable choice. You will be more satisfied with doing your own search and finding someone who will meet your needs. Most importantly, in hiring an attorney, meet with the attorney in person and make sure that you are comfortable with the experience and approach and demeanor of the attorney who will be representing you. Make sure you meet the injury attorney who will actually handle your case, not just with a paralegal or case manager. The relationship you have with your attorney during this important time will be helpful to you and should be based on a mutually good rapport between client and attorney.