Do I have to prove what caused my slip and fall?

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Do I have to prove what caused my slip and fall?

I fell in a hallway of a hospital while visiting an elderly friend. I am not sure what was on the floor but I did have hospital employees as witnesses. Being so embarrassed, I did not get their names, and they did not ask me if I needed medical treatment or have anybody fill out an incident report. This injury caused me to have shoulder surgery and a lot of physical therapy afterward. Do I have to have the burden to prove that something caused my fall?

Asked on October 15, 2011 under Personal Injury, Florida

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In a personal injury case, you are the plaintiff and have the burden of proof in establishing negligence on the part of the hospital for the slippery floor.  You don't have to identify the exact item that made the floor slippery. 

Without an accident report and the names of the witnesses, it may be difficult to prove that you slipped and fell at the hospital.  The hospital's insurance carrier might claim that you slipped and fell elsewhere and deny the claim. Were there any warning signs, cones, etc. about the slippery/ wet floor?

Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that in this case a reasonable hospital would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to keep the floor clean and prevent foreseeable harm).  In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove duty (of due care) mentioned above, breach of duty (failure of the hospital to exercise due care by not having the floor wiped up), actual cause, proximate cause and damages. 

Actual cause means but for the hospital floor being slippery, would you have fallen?  If the answer is no, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable, intervening events which would relieve the hospital of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.

Damages means the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit.  Your damages would include your medical bills, pain and suffering and wage loss.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.

Prior to filing a lawsuit for negligence against the hospital, it may be possible to settle the case with the hospital's insurance carrier.  Your claim would include the medical bills, medical reports, and wage loss documentation.  If the case is settled with the insurance company, NO lawsuit is filed.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance company, reject the settlement offers and file your lawsuit for negligence against the hospital.  If the case is NOT settled with the hospital's insurance carrier, you must file your lawsuit prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights in the matter forever.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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