Does someone have a case if he or she slips on algae, falls and gets hurt?
Here, I’ll talk about settlements and claims for slip and fall on algae cases.
Heat and humidity may cause algae to grow on concrete or another surface. The growth of algae requires a landlord or property owner to inspect and take necessary steps to remove the algae. Tenants at the property are good witnesses as to how effective, or ineffective, any cleaning procedures were before a fall.
A case is stronger if the cleaning procedures before the fall are ineffective. A great way to determine whether you have a case if you slip and fall on algae is to look at past jury verdicts.
Here I am going to look at some past Florida verdicts where someone slipped and fell on algae and was injured.
Confidential Settlement for Slip and Fall on Algae
A lady went to a business establishment in Florida.
While walking, she slipped and fell. After the fall, she saw algae on the floor.
Paramedics treated her at the scene. However, she did not take an ambulance to the hospital. Her case would have been worth more if an ambulance would’ve taken her to the hospital.
Moreover, she didn’t go to a hospital the same day. Days later, she went to a hospital.
I settled her case with the business establishment.
The good news?
My client was very happy. I’ve settled many slip and fall cases.
$1.1 Million Verdict for Slip and Fall on Algae
This isn’t my case. In 1999, a 40-year-old male paramedic was at Adventure Landing amusement park in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida. He was walking around. At the time, he was holding a small child.
There, he slipped on algae. He fell. He landed on his back.
His injury was herniated disc in his lower back. The herniated disc was located at L4-L5.
Doctors gave him epidural injections (shots) to his lower back.
He hired a personal injury lawyer. He sued the amusement park.
In 2003, a jury awarded him compensation.
He got $250K for Pain and Suffering
The breakdown was as follows:
- $250,000 for pain and suffering
- Past and future medical expenses of about $150,000
- Lost earnings of about $700,000. The injured man’s spouse was awarded $20,000 for loss of consortium.
They also must pay for your disability and physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, inconvenience or loss of capacity for the past and future enjoyment of life.
The amount ($250,000) that the jury awarded for pain and suffering is above average. I know this because I’ve extensively researched Florida jury verdicts for herniated discs.
This is also a very large verdict for a case where injured person didn’t have surgery.
In fact, this is the biggest verdict that I’m aware of for a slip and fall on algae (in Florida).
The jury found that the amusement park was 95% negligent, and that the injured man was 5% at fault. Apparently the water park – or its insurer – offered $1,000 at first and then later offered $200,000 before trial.
The injured man did not work for 2 months following the fall but then went back to work. Paramedics have to lift heavy individuals and apparently he did not comply with the heavy lifting limitations that his treating physicians gave him.
As in any slip and fall case, he claimed that the water park was negligent in its operation and maintenance of their property. He claimed that algae was on the steps at the time of the fall. As in every slip and fall case that I have settled, the property owner, in this case the amusement park, denied liability and argued comparative negligence.
Premises Owner Usually Isn’t 95% At Fault
The fact that the jury found the amusement park 95% liable is not the norm in a slip and fall case. In most slip and fall cases, if the jury finds that the defendant is negligent, they often (but not always) place at least 50% of the blame on the injured person. The fact that the injured person may be blamed for the fall is one of over 33 factors that affect the value of a personal injury case.
The injured person’s negligence, if any, is something that he or she should consider when deciding when or whether to settle the case. Since this slip and fall happened in Florida, the injured person would normally be able to recover 95% of his or her damages because the amusement park was 95% at fault. This is a very good result for the injured man.
I assume that the $200,000 was offered after a lawsuit was filed. Sometimes prospective clients call me and they want free advice. However, they don’t want to hire an injury lawyer.
One of the benefits of hiring an attorney is that the lawyer knows when to file a lawsuit in a serious injury case. Of course, the lawyer also knows how to sue.
Slip and fall cases are difficult. Filing a lawsuit in a serious injury isn’t easy. Particularly if you haven’t sued a lot before.
Attorney Hired an Expert Witness to Prove the Case
The injured person hired an expert witness, William Avery (who is a safety expert) to help prove liability (negligence). William is a gentleman who I have spoken with before.
He is a well-respected theme park safety expert. Another advantage of hiring an injury is that he or she pays for the expert and then you only have to pay for the expert if your case settles or you win a verdict.
Safety experts usually require a retainer fee of $1,200 or more depending on travel arrangements.
You should follow a doctor’s restrictions if you are injured. As long as you are following your doctors’ recommendations, you should continue to live your life.
I strongly advise against not doing certain activities in the hopes of trying to make your injuries seem bigger than they are. I am unaware of whether the injured man took pictures of the algae.
Tip: While you may be able to get a settlement or a jury verdict in a slip and fall on algae case without pictures of the algae, it is always better to take pictures as they are more objective than your testimony alone.
I settled a slip and fall case for 2 skin grafts on my client’s leg $300,000. However, I had to sue to get that settlement. Slip and fall cases can be difficult.
Woman Who Slipped and Fell on Algae at a Park Gets No Money
This isn’t my case. A 50-year-old lady was fishing at the a county park in Orange County, Florida.
She claimed that she walked onto the boat ramp. Her intent was to get closer to the lake.
She said that she saw algae on the edge of the concrete ramp next to the water. She backed up to fish.
As she cast her fishing line, she slipped on algae.
Unfortunately, she developed a severe infection and multiple surgeries.
She claimed that the Orange County Park let a dangerous condition exist in a park, specifically algae on a concrete boat ramp. The woman claimed that the algae caused her to slip and fall.
I do not know how much time passed from when she first saw the algae until she started to back up. If she had enough time to move away from the algae before she fell but chose not to move away, then this reduces the settlement value of one’s case.
Tip: Once you testify that you see a dangerous condition and had a chance to avoid it but you did not, you should generally be prepared to reduce the full value of your claim by your comparative negligence. This will help you arrive at a reasonable settlement value.
The County denied liability and claimed that algae is a naturally occurring event at the lake and that it is open and obvious hazard.
County Argued That She Caused Her Fall
As in virtually every slip and fall case, the County argued that the woman’s fall was caused by her own negligence. Specifically, the county argued that she wasn’t paying attention while walking.
The fact that the algae was at a natural place made her case tougher. In this case, algae was near a lake. A lake isn’t a man-made place. Thus, she had a harder time proving that county was negligent.
On top of that, the fact that she slipped while on a boat ramp made it even tougher for her to prove that the County was negligent. I assume that the boat ramp was on an incline.
I can imagine that the County argued that she should not have been on the boat ramp in the first place. My guess is that her response was that there were no warning signs that told guests to stay off of the ramp.
As I mentioned above, the jury found that the County was not negligent. But as with many cases, there was a possibility that another jury may have found the County negligent. I think that a slip and fall on algae at a private business, such as an amusement park, outdoor shopping mall or condominium building may be easier to prove on average than a fall on algae that occurs at a natural (not a made-made) place.
1. Take pictures and video
As I mentioned above, you should take pictures and video of the entire incident scene and the algae as soon as possible following the slip and fall.
Do not just take 1 or 2 close up pictures or video of the algae. Be sure to take video and pictures from far away as well. You should take enough pictures and video so that someone who is looking at the photos or video can see the entire route that you took before you entered the property all the way up to the time when the fall happened.
2. Send the claims adjuster your medical records as soon as possible.
I say this over and over throughout this blog. As soon as you get your medical records, you should send them to the claims adjuster.
3. Ask the adjuster questions to help you prove negligence.
It is necessary to prove that the prospective defendant’s negligence caused your injury in order to be entitled to recover lost wages, medical bills, bodily injury, pain and suffering, disability and physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, inconvenience or loss of capacity for the past and future enjoyment of life.
The exception to this is if the property owner has a CGL policy that has “medical payments coverage”, which would pay for some medical expenses regardless of fault.
I recommend trying to settle a case before a lawsuit. However, sometimes you have to sue to get fair value.
Questions to Ask the Premises’ Insurance Company
Let’s say that you slip and fall on algae on a step at a business establishment. If I represented a client in that case, I’d consider asking the business’ insurance company several questions.
These questions may include:
“In regards to the cleaning of the step and/or area that is the subject of this incident, please answer the following questions:
a. Who cleaned it in the days and/or weeks prior to this incident? (The job title for the person who performed the cleaning).
b. What method is used to clean it?
c. What time of day is it usually cleaned?
d. How often was it cleaned prior to this incident?
e. On the day of the incident and prior to the date of the incident, did the video usually show the cleaning, if any, of the step?
g. Does video show the subject step being cleaned prior to the fall on the day of the fall?
h. Does video show the subject step being cleaned after the fall on the day of the fall?
More Questions to Ask the Premises’ Insurance Company
i. When is the most recent day, prior to my client’s fall, that you have video of the cleaning of the subject step and/or subject area?
j. Do you have video that shows the subject fall? If so, are you willing and able to send it to me?
k. If you have video of the subject fall, when does the video begin and when does it end?
l. How many complaints have you had, in the 5 years prior to the incident, of the subject area being slippery and/or containing algae?
m. Are there written operating procedures in regards to maintaining the subject area so that it is free from algae? If so, what do they say?
n. Do you have any written inspection and cleaning logs showing that the subject step and/or area were cleaned on the day of the fall prior to the fall, as well as in the days prior to the fall? If so, are you willing and able to send those to me?
The above questions focus on a personal injury case if you slip and fall on algae on step. However, these questions can be altered based upon the specifics of each case.
My goal by asking the adjuster these questions is to learn as much as possible about whether the premises operator’s negligence caused the injury.
Some adjusters may not answer these questions. However, others may respond.
The adjuster may not respond in writing. If he or she does not, pick up the phone and talk with him or her.
Ask the Insurance Company to Preserve Evidence
The injured person can ask the premises operator to preserve evidence. The claimant can ask that all video and photos of the incident scene are preserved.
I request to preserve evidence can be simple. I may say something like:
Please consider this a request to save all the video that you have for this subject area including, but not limited to, the subject step and/or area where my client’s subject fall took place. Please preserve all the video that you have for the subject area where my client fell for as many days as you have video prior to the fall.
Did someone’s carelessness cause you to slip or trip and fall and suffer an injury in Florida, or on a cruise or boat? Were you injured in another type of accident?
See Our Settlements
We want to represent you!
Our Miami law firm represents people injured anywhere in Florida in slip, trip and falls, store or supermarket accidents, cruise ship or boat accidents, accidents at someone else’s home, condo or apartment, and many other types of accidents.
We want to represent you if you were injured in an accident in Florida, on a cruise ship or boat. If you live in Florida but were injured in another state we may also be able to represent you.
Call Us Now!
Call us now at (888) 594-3577 to find out for FREE if we can represent you. We answer calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
No Fees or Costs if We Do Not Get You Money
Author’s Note: This article was originally published a few years ago. However, I continue to update it as much as I can.