Did You Suffer a Serious Trip and Fall in Downtown Sarasota? Read This First!

We walk on sidewalks everyday without issue. However what happens when you get hurt on a sidewalk? This article will discuss the most important factors to look out for in a trip and fall incident.

Who maintained the Sidewalk?

First, we usually ask a perspective client whether or not they fell on public or private property. If the accident occurs on public property then the damages will be severely limited by statute. In Florida a public actor, as per 2021 Florida Statute 768.28, is only liable for $200,000 in damages per incident to any given individual. This number rises to $300,000 if there are multiple victims and is divided between the victims accordingly. On the other hand a private actor does not have a damages limit. These limits can be in the millions of dollars depending on insurance. Thus we prefer to see a private actor in a trip and fall case.

Is there Negligence?

Next, we need to determine whether or not the party in question was negligent. An individual must be negligent to be held responsible for damages. Negligence requires a showing of 1) Duty 2) Breach 3) Causation and 4) Damages. A full analysis of negligence could fill pages. This article will only discuss the definition of breach. A breach occurs when a defendant fails to reach the standard of care that would be required by a reasonable person.
The standard for breach evolves constantly through case law. It is therefore imperative to consult a lawyer who is up to date on recent trends. In trip and fall cases a defendant is responsible to fix any dangerous conditions that they are aware of. Thus, damages are available if we can prove that the defendant had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition and did not fix it in time.

When A Trip and Fall Case is Winnable

Where an incident occurs in a square flat section with yellow paint, we have generally found cases to be more successful because it is considered a “designated walkway.” A designated walkway should be kept safe for pedestrians because they are reasonably expected to walk in the area. Thus, the yellow marking serves as proof that the defendant was alert as to the dangerous condition.

When a Trip and Fall Case Fails

On the contrary, cases often fail if the accident occurs in an area that is not an intended walkway. Defendants will argue that a walkway is distinct from a decoration. A decoration is a feature that is on a sidewalk and not intended for a reasonable person to walk upon. The picture below provides an example of a decorative feature because a person should not expect to walk in the area. Thus a victim would be responsible for the fall because he should have been aware of the difference.

Example From Perspective Client

Still Speak with An Attorney

You should never assume you do not have a legitimate case. We encourage you to speak with us right away. It is important to act fast to preserve evidence and build your case. Call us now at 941-366-8690. Disclaimer: note that this article is specific to the Sarasota Florida area. Each case is unique and different. Do not hesitate to reach out. Local municipal codes will change the analysis in this article.

Tom Harris, Florida Injury Attorney, has over 39 years of experience, including 17 years of defending insurance companies before reinventing his law practice to represent injured people as a personal injury attorney.

Kyle Harris is a Florida licensed attorney who joined the family practice after starting his career as a licensed attorney in California

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