Florida Legal Topics

DeBary Legal News - Slip

The Law Office of Paul Bernardini

Slip/Trip and Fall - Think Before You Speak

There are many kinds of slip/trip and fall injuries, and many stories, articles, and reports about them. However - certain guidelines should apply in every single case – no matter what else you might believe seems more logical or safer. Frequently, the statement you give while embarrassed, flustered and injured may severely jeopardize your claim, no matter how honest and well-intentioned you or the store employees are.

The one thing to try to remember is that you will be very vulnerable and probably embarrassed and flustered, in addition to being injured. Do not give any details to anyone at the scene. It’s important to realize that the people who have the real authority to decide to pay your ambulance, emergency room, medical bills, lost wages, etc., won't be anywhere near the store. The store employees simply have an obligation to get as much of a statement from you as they can, report to their insurance company or company claim department, and let those professionals handle everything.

In my experience (since 1966), no matter how polite you are, no matter how cooperative you are, and no matter how severely you are injured, the insurance companies only have their monetary interests at heart and want you to go away. Don't rely on any store employee to get names and information of witnesses. Sometimes, they "accidentally forget."

Many people I've met over the years who had been injured in stores willingly gave statements to store employees because they were certain (from the concerned tone or the actual promise) that the store would pay all their related bills. It didn't dawn on them for several days or even weeks that nothing would be done until they contacted a lawyer.


Report the injury to the Store Manager or Assistant Manager. If you are injured, simply advise you are hurt but that you don't know the extent of your injuries. Tell them that you want medical treatment or an ambulance to the emergency room if necessary. Refuse to give a statement. You have no idea how important this can be for even the most deserving, honest, innocent, injured person.

If possible, take a photo or video with your phone of what caused the accident, and get the name & information sufficient to locate any eyewitnesses.

Then get medical help. Sometimes symptoms are masked by the embarrassment or the severity of more than one injury when symptoms first appear, as immediately after the incident or within a few hours or even a day or so. Be certain to immediately note the symptoms and report these medical problems promptly to your health care provider, either your family doctor or the ER doctor or staff...

So remember:
  1.      Report the injury to the store immediately
  2.     Get the names, phone numbers, and addresses of any witnesses.
  3.     Take photos, as many as you can. Have someone help you if necessary
  4.     Get emergency room help.
  5.     Do not give any statement, oral or written until AFTER the torte pays your medical bill & lost wages, except to your lawyer.  

Of course, if you have any questions, just give me a call for a free, no obligation whatsoever. Call 386-258-3453 and I will help you get through this over the telephone, if I can! I’m here for you.

Slip/Trip And Fall - Parking Lots

Many people trip and/or fall over concrete wheel stops in parking lots. "Wheel stop" is the architect’s name for the stone or concrete barrier to keep a car from moving forward beyond a parking space.

These cases are extremely difficult to win, no matter how serious the injury. A good example is Ramsey v. Home Depot USA, 38 Fla.L.Weekly D2245 (1st DCA October 25, 2013), where the customer filed a lawsuit against Home Depot alleging that the wheel stop was a dangerous and hazardous condition and that Home Depot had a duty to better warn her.

The trial court granted summary judgment for Home Depot. The Florida appellate court agreed with the decision of the trial court and The First District held that the owner had no duty to warn the customer of the wheel stop and that the owner was not responsible for the injury when the customer tripped over the wheel stop.

The court noted that Home Depot offered testimony to establish that the wheel stops were in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as state and local building codes.