Cracks or Holes in Walking Surface
Sudden changes in elevation are a major source of trip-and-fall accidents in Florida. A quarter-inch change in the walking surface is enough to cause someone to trip.
Elevation changes in walking surfaces are often caused by cracks or holes, which can be attributed to regular wear-and-tear, ongoing construction or existing materials such as drainage grates that aren’t properly marked or covered.
At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, our Southwest Florida premises liability lawyers know that cracks or holes in the walking surface may not even be easily visible, which is why resulting falls can lead to such serious injuries as broken bones, head trauma, neck damage, back injury, chipped or broken teeth and scarring. Our injury lawyers are dedicated to ensuring trip-and-fall victims have immediate access to experienced legal assistance.
Florida legislators recognized the importance of protecting the public from open pits and holes that could be located on property. This is why F.S. § 768.10 was enacted. The statute specifically bars any company or individual from leaving open any pit or other hole outside of an enclosure that is greater in breadth and depth than 2 feet. Open holes of this size must be enclosed either with a fence or some other type of barrier that safeguards people, horses, cattle or other domestic animals from falling in. The only exception provided is for companies engaged in official mining operations. Even then, once operations are completed, these pits and holes have to be enclosed immediately.
If a company or individual violates this statute, F.S. § 768.11 provides that not only will that party be liable for resulting injuries, they will be required to pay double the actual damages sustained.
The amount of damages determined in each case will vary significantly depending on the specific facts of the incident.Property Injuries: Cracks and Holes in Florida Parking Lots
While cracks and holes can potentially occur in any walking surface, including grassy yards or construction sites, they are especially common in parking lots, which property owners are sometimes less apt to routinely maintain than the interior site.
Asphalt is particularly prone to cracks, especially if it is heavily traveled. Pavement may start out smooth, but the constant pounding from cars and trucks and weathering takes its toll. Cracks can also form when fresh concrete mix is laid alongside cooled mix, or when utility crews cut into the pavement for placement of underground pipes and cables.
Once water seeps into an asphalt crack, it has the potential to rapidly widen, forming what we often refer to as a pothole. Hit a pothole fast enough in a vehicle, and you’re likely to get a flat tire or throw your vehicle alignment. However, trip on one while walking, and you’re likely to suffer injury.
Cracks in parking lot asphalt may be inevitable, but property owners who practice preventative maintenance and repairs to keep water out can minimize the potential for injury and the development of larger potholes.Open and Obvious Defense to Property Injury
Our experienced premises liability lawyers know when injury occurs as a result of tripping over a crack or hole in the walking surface, one of the go-to defense strategies will be the assertion that the danger was open and obvious.
The open and obvious doctrine is a major exception to the general rules requiring property owners to exercise reasonable care in shielding an invitee from risk of harm caused by a dangerous condition on-site. The doctrine releases a property owner from liability if the hazard was so obvious that any reasonable person should be expected to recognize the potential danger and protect himself from it.
This is a form of comparative negligence that shifts the blame for the injury back onto the injured person.
If you or a loved one has been injured in Southwest Florida, contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. There are no fees or costs unless we win. Offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte.
Call 800-646-1210 for a Free Consultation