Lost wages are one of the many different types of damages that you may be able to sue for if you slip and fall on a substance or debris at a premises in Florida.
This article does not apply if you only have a Florida workers compensation claim. However, this article does apply if you are hurt while working and you also have a personal injury claim for your lost wages.
There is no guarantee that the owner or operator of the premises will pay your lost wages. The standard to get your lost wages paid is very similar to the standard for making a claim for pain and suffering. In either, you must prove that the owner or operator’s negligence (discussed further below) caused your injury. Whether the owner or operator of the premises will pay for your medical bills or pain and suffering is outside the scope of this article.
The owner or operator has an obligation to use reasonable care to protect invitees from dangerous conditions on the premises of which he has actual knowledge or constructive knowledge. If the owner or operator breaches this duty, they are negligent. So assuming that you are an invitee of a Florida premises (e.g. store, restaurant, hotel, mall, supermarket, etc.) and the owner or operator had actual or constructive knowledge of the substance or debris that you slipped and fell on, you may be able to get your lost wages paid.
Warning! While you should report the claim to the owner and operator of the premises, do not give a statement (whether recorded or unrecorded) to the adjuster! You have no obligation to give a statement. The downside outweighs the upside and it can later be used against you. Emotions generally run high after a slip and fall accident and you may misspeak. Think of an adjuster as Lebron James and you are trying to score a point on him. There is a 99.9% chance that it won’t happen. It may only decrease the value of the claim.
Assuming that you can show that the owner or operator had constructive or actual knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have fixed it (or warned you) before your slip and fall, then your lost wages may be reduced by one of the more than 37 factors that affect the value of a Florida personal injury case.
In Florida, the value of your lost wage claim in a slip and fall case is reduced by your comparative fault.
You are walking in a Publix supermarket in Florida and you slip and fall on a substance. You fracture your wrist and cannot work for 6 weeks due to your injury. Your lost wages are $5,000.
The substance looked dirty and had footprints going through it. You did not notice anyone in the area for 15-20 minutes before you fell. The substance was in the middle of the aisle and you had taken 20 steps before you slipped on it. With these facts you may be able to prove that the water existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, Publix should have known of the water.
Can you recover this $5,000 in lost wages?
Possibly, or a fraction of it. Perhaps the adjuster will put 50% (or more or less) of the fault on you for not paying better attention while you were walking. If he or she puts your fault at 50%, then he may pay you $2,500 for your lost wage claim.
Tip: While slip and fall cases are difficult, what’s nice about Florida slip and fall law is that you may be able to recover your lost wages even if you were more than 50% at fault. This is more favorable than the law of many other states.
Let’s take the same example above except we will assume that you were 20% at fault. Then you would be able to recover 80% of your lost wages, which would amount to $4,000 ($5,000 *.8). You may also be able to get money for pain and suffering and your medical bills but that is outside the scope of this article.
After you have given notice of your slip and fall to the premises owner or operator, you should give your employer a wage and salary verification form for them to complete. After your employer gives you the completed form, you should then send it to the adjuster as soon as possible. Be sure to get written delivery confirmation and receipt confirmation. I like to get delivery and read receipt confirmation on Microsoft Outlook (the email that I use). I also may fax the form or send it certified mail return receipt requested.
In a typical lost wage claim, the adjuster will take your average weekly wage over the 13 weeks before the accident and multiply it times the number of weeks that you missed as a result of the fall. The adjuster may then decrease the full value of your lost wage claim by any factors including, but not limited to, your difficulty proving negligence and/or your comparative negligence, if any.
It may be more difficult to get your lost wages paid than getting, at least some of, your medical bills paid. This is because lost wages are not covered under “medical payments coverage” in the premises owner or operator’s liability insurance policy.
Time Limit to Get Your Lost Wages Claim in a Slip and Fall Case
Since a claim to recover your lost wages in a Florida slip and fall is based on negligence, your lawsuit must be filed within the same time limits that apply to Florida negligence claims or be forever barred. Because of this, it is very important that you consult with an attorney immediately if you wish to preserve your right to sue.
Other than the aforementioned time limit to sue, there is no deadline within which you must get proof of your lost wages to the adjuster.
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