It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It also tends to be one of the most dangerous, with holiday-related injuries sending thousands of Floridians to the hospital each year.
The incidents run the gamut: Cooking/burn injuries, decoration-related falls and burns, slip-and-falls or falling merchandise while shopping, dog bites while visiting relatives, hotel injuries, motor vehicle crashes occurring while traveling to see family and injuries from playing with dangerous toys.
In some of these cases, injured people may be able to pursue legal damages to cover the cost of medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. A determination must be made by establishing whether a person or company owed you a duty of care, whether that duty was breached and you were injured as a result of that breach. This is called negligence. Most of these types of claims would be rooted in various theories of negligence.
It is the hope of our Cape Coral injury lawyers that you enjoy a safe and happy holiday season. However, when an unexpected injury does occur, we are available immediately to help guide you through the legal process and your options to collect damages.
Let’s start first by talking about the kinds of injuries arising from premises liability law. Florida statutes require property owners and those who control property to keep it in reasonably safe condition for invited guests/patrons. When they fail in this regard, you may be entitled to pursue damages.
In slip-and-fall premises liability cases, F.S. 768.0755 requires plaintiffs in these cases to prove not only that a non-obvious slippery substance caused their fall and injuries, but also that defendant had actual or constructive knowledge (knew or should have known) of the issue and failed to remedy it or warn people about it.
Falling merchandise injuries would occur when store employees improperly stack goods or boxes or stack them too high, putting shoppers at risk of injury.
Hotel injuries would also fall under the premises liability umbrella. Hotels must make sure their structures adhere to all applicable building codes and the property is reasonably safe for guests. Many, however, are more interested in turning a profit than making necessary repairs, so injuries inevitably occur.
Dog bites, too, might be a form of premises liability, as it could be asserted a private homeowner failed to keep the property safe from an unreasonable risk of attack. It’s estimated roughly one-third of the payouts made by private homeowners’ insurance nationally involves dog bites. In Florida, these claims were tallied at $7 million in 2013. The average cost of a claim is $30,000. Most standard homeowner insurance policies cover claims up to between $100,000 and $300,000.
Perhaps the most common type of injury around this time of year are motor vehicle crashes. People attending holiday parties are more likely to be intoxicated before hitting the road, and many others are traveling long distances and may be fatigued and unfamiliar with the territory. December has one of the highest rates for traffic crashes of the year. While Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state, when injury costs exceed the limits of personal injury protection coverage, an injured driver, passenger or pedestrian may pursue damages from the at-fault driver or insurer. If that insurance still doesn’t cover it all or if the other driver doesn’t have insurance, injured persons can pursue underinsured motorist coverage from their own carrier.
Meanwhile, holiday decoration injuries continue to be a serious problem. Holiday emergency room doctors report head and neck injuries from ladder falls while hanging lights are the most common. These kinds of falls cost, on average, $40,000 just in medical bills. Sometimes these injuries may be compensable through a homeowner’s home insurance policy. Cooking injuries, too, may be covered, particularly if there was a fire involved. On Thanksgiving day alone, more than 4,000 fires occur in the U.S. annually. Figures for Christmas are similar.
Finally, there are toy-related injuries. The journal Clinical Pediatrics found recently toy-related injury rates from 1990 to 2011 increased by an astonishing 40 percent. More than 3 million children were treated in 2011 for toy-related injuries (one every 3 minutes) with more than half of those being under the age of 6. The most common culprits were riding toys and those that had choking hazards. A list of recalled toys can be found at Recalls.gov. This is especially an important tool for toys that have been given second-hand. Injuries stemming from defective toys could result in a product liability lawsuit.
Call the Cape Coral personal injury lawyers of Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Holiday decorating can light up the E.R., Dec. 4, 2014, By Monica S. Nagy, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Toy-related injuries send a record number of kids to the E.R., Dec. 4, 2014, By Henry Kimball, CNN
More Blog Entries:
Elliot v. GEICO – Underinsured Motorist Coverage Set-Offs, Nov. 26, 2014, Cape Coral Injury Lawyer Blog