If you slip and fall at a condominium building, you may be entitled to compensation. In order to get money for pain and suffering, you need to show that the condo association’s negligence caused your injury.
Does a Condo Association Have to Pay Your Attorney’s Fees if You Win a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
Maybe, if your slip and fall was caused by negligent maintenance in the common elements. Coronado Condo. Ass’n v. Scher, 533 So.2d 295 (Fla. 3d DCA 1988). (A common element is normally defined as all parts of the condominium other than the units.)
In Coronado, unit owners at the Coronado condominium, sued the association for negligent maintenance of a sanitary sewer in the common elements, which resulted in a smelly back flow of sewage into the unit owners’ apartment. This isn’t my case.
After a jury trial, $160,000 in money damages for personal injuries and property damage. The appeals court said that the trial court properly awarded attorney’s fees in the unit owner’s favor for the prosecution of the entire case under section 718.303(1), Florida Statutes.
Florida Statute 718.303 says that:
The prevailing party in any such action … is entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees.
Tenant Gets Over $185,000 for Fall at Condo Building
A tenant who slipped and fell on the stairs of a residential condominium complex in Miami. He badly injured his leg.
We claimed that the stairs were not safe due to improper handrails, different riser heights, and no anti-slip material.
The accident happened in Miami Lakes, Miami-Dade County, Florida. I, as co-counsel, represented the tenant. We settled for over $185,000.
Girl Gets $30,464 for Broken Arm from Falling
She fractured her upper arm (humerus). The bench that she was sitting on is below.
The minor child’s parents sent me pictures of the bench leg removed from the ground.
The photo shows that the bench was not 100% secured into the ground. $30,000 of the settlement was from the condo association’s liability insurance. $464 was from the Medical Payments (Medpay) coverage.
Mt. Hawley insured the condominium association. Mt. Hawley is part of RLI Corp.
I represented the girl in this case. They are a below average insurer when it comes to paying personal injury claims.
Falls on a Mat That Isn’t Smooth, or a Mat That is Covering Broken Tile
In Simon v. Gables Plaza Condominium Association, Inc., 892 So. 2d 553 – Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 3rd Dist. 2005, a condo resident tripped and fell in the Gables Plaza parking garage, and sustained serious injuries.
This isn’t my case. She sued Gables Plaza.
The doorman at Gables Plaza testified that he was aware of problems with the flooring in the garage and admitted that it had been in disrepair for a pretty long time due to flooding.
He said that Gables Plaza was aware of the condition. Whenever there was a problem, a rubber mat was placed on top of it.
He also said that the site of the accident was a tile floor covered by a mat; that the tiles were chipped and covered by the mat.
Simon testified that she hit a piece of nylon that was on the floor covering the tiles.
The 85-year old testified through an interpreter. She was asked if she tripped on the edge of the nylon and she said, “Yes. I hit the nylon and I bumped into the door.”
The appeals court said that the jury should have been given the opportunity to determine the cause of Simon’s fall based on all the testimony. A mat placed on a floor to conceal broken tiles would be evidence of negligence.
Can’t Assume That The Mat Was Smooth or Flush With the Floor
Even if Simon fell on the edge of the mat, the court said that it cannot assume that this was a smooth surface or that the mat was flush against the floor.
This case is similar to Roach v. Raubar, 362 So.2d 84 (Fla. 3d DCA 1978), where the claimant testified that she was ascending the steps of an apartment house and that as she reached the top (third) step, she fell.
Photos Showed The Top Step Was Badly Broken
Photographs showed that the top step was badly broken and damaged with large chunks broken from the lip of the step. She didn’t testify that the broken step caused her to fall.
Under the circumstances of that case, the jury is entitled to find that her fall was caused by the defective condition because the evidence shows that the fall occurred at the time and place where the defective condition was.
The appeals court in Simon let the case continue to trial.
Slip and Falls on Water Inside a Staircase at a Condo Building
A guest or resident may have a case if he or she slips on water inside the stairwell of a condo building. He or she should look around to the see the source of the water.
The door (in the above picture) was open when I arrived at the scene. This may make the case tougher if someone slipped on this water.
The guest or resident has a duty to use reasonable care when walking.
The condo association’s insurer may argue that the victim should have seen the water on the floor because the door was open. The insurance company may reduce the full value of the case for this.
If the person turned the corner and entered the stairwell the case may be worth more. The injured victim can argue that he did not have time to see the water.
Look for the Source of the Water
After the fall, the injured person should look around to see the source (cause) of the water. In this case, I walked up three flights of stairs.
The exit door was left open on each landing area of each level. I think this water was there because the stairs were cleaned by the maintenance people.
If I am correct, the maintenance people should have placed warning signs on the floor during the cleaning. They should have dried up the water before they completed the job.
They should have left warning signs there after the job if water remained on the floor.
The injured person should also take pictures from multiple angles.
Above is a picture of the water on the floor of the entrance to the condo. This additional view helps the condo association and property management’s claims adjuster better understand the accident scene.
Slipping on Water Coming from a Pipe in the Wall
Slip and falls are probably the most common type of accidents at condominiums.
The above picture was taken at a condominium building in Pinecrest, Miami-Dade County, Florida. The arrow is pointing to a PVC pipe in the wall. The pipe reduces the water overflow from the above balcony and/or roof.
The wall should have a sign that warns tenants and guests that the floor may be wet. The end of the pipe should also be visible.
The condo association and/or property management should pain the pipe a different color from the wall. The color should be a big contrast.
In the picture, the pipe is white. The wall is beige. The pipe is not completely open and obvious.
Insurance Company May Argue the Pipe Is Obvious
If a guest or tenant slip on water, and falls, in this walkway, the claim adjuster may argue that the tenant or guest should have seen the pipe before the fall.
The adjuster may argue that the tenant or guest should have seen the water on the floor.
The victim’s case is weaker if he or she had walked past this area before the subject slip and fall.
The injured person’s case is even weaker if he or she had walked past this area after it had rained before and water came onto the walkway from this pipe.
Stairs at a Condo Building Should Be Slip-Resistant
A condo or apartment building has a duty to make stairs slip-resistant.
The above picture shows steps at a Pinecrest, Miami-Dade County, Florida condominium building. The steps are missing paint. The steps may be missing nonslip material.
A resident or guest may slip on this steps. He or she may get hurt. If so, the victim may make an injury claim against the condo association or property management company.
Slip and Fall on Dirt on Stairs
A resident or guest may slip on stairs that have dirt on them. See the picture below:
The above picture shows a lot of dirt on the landing. A landing can be a platform at the end of a stairway.
This exterior staircase is located at a Pinecrest, Miami-Dade County, Florida condominium.
Someone may slip on the dirt on this landing. They could get injured.
The condominium association and property management company have a duty to maintain the property. The victim’s claim is that the condo association and/or property management company breached this duty.
The association’s insurer would place blame and on the victim. They will argue that the large amount of dirt on the landing is open and obvious.
The adjuster will argue that the victim should have seen the dirt before the fall. A guest or resident has a duty to use reasonable care while walking.
The picture below shows the view looking down the staircase. The injured person should always take a picture of this angle.
The photo below is another angle (facing east). It helps show the stairs’ layout and the landing’s hazard.
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