Unfortunately, slip and falls accidents are very common in Florida, and they can result in serious injuries and expenses. Slip and fall accidents can lead to a host of injuries, from simple sprains and bruises to broken bones and back injuries. These injuries can lead to permanent disability and costly medical bills.
If you have a slip and fall accident in Florida, you may be forced to file your claim with the property owner, instead of the business owner. This happens most often when stores lease space from a property owner. The property owner is then generally responsible for the upkeep of the common areas, such as the parking lot.
When you file your claim with a property owner, you will need to prove that the accident you had stemmed from the property owner’s negligence. This can often be difficult to prove. Many times negligent property owners are able to get away completely free due to a lack of proper evidence. This is because it can often be hard to determine exactly what caused the fall.
When gathering evidence to build your case, it can often help to check in to whether the property owner violated any of Florida’s Building Code. Cases can often be won with the proof that the property owner violated the building codes.
Florida’s Building Code is a massive set of codes and standards that address each and every aspect of buildings within the state. From the initial designs, to new construction or renovation, the Florida Building Code provides standardization of the design and construction of buildings within the state. It also establishes a set of regulations that owners must adhere to for the health and safety of the public. Moreover, the Florida Building Code is always updated every three years, but the Florida legislature can amend it annually.
Moreover, while the Florida Building Code provides a base layer of rules and regulations for the state, local jurisdictions can and often do add more stringent codes. It is up to the property owner to know all of the rules and regulations that affect his building and to keep up with any changes to those rules and regulations.
Property Owner Liability
In order to prove that the property owner violated Florida’s Building Code, you need to get the proper evidence. Think of it like a scale. If it is just your word against the owner’s, the scales are in balance. Any evidence you can put on your side will tip the scale in your favor.
Code violation cases are very similar to strict liability cases. In strict liability cases, a plaintiff only needs to prove that the incident occurred and that the defendant was responsible. It is similar to code violation cases because in those cases the person who experienced the accident only needs to prove that the accident occurred, that the property owner was not following the building codes and that failure caused the injury.
Florida Building Code and Compliance
The Florida Building Code follows standard models and regulations established by the International Code Council (ICC). The ICC began in 1994 and started as a combination of the nation’s three regional model code groups. It is a membership association that is dedicated to creating safety models for buildings worldwide. Most of the states in the US start with the base model proposed by the ICC. This base model is called the International Building Code (IBC), and it addresses both public safety and health concerns.
The Florida legislature took the basic IBC and adjusted it to fit the state’s needs. For example, they edited the IBC to include issues with hurricanes. To ensure that property owners and contractors comply with these codes, Florida has a number of departments whose job it is to inspect the buildings. All of these codes are of public record, and can often be found in the city of county municipal building. Florida’s general building code can be found online.
When an inspector conducts an inspection of a building, the inspector goes around the building and checks to ensure that the owner is complying with all of the safety and health regulations. The inspector also ensures that the property owner is up to date with all of the proper certifications. If the inspector finds any issues with the building or certifications, the inspector can issue warnings or fines.
In order to build your case, it will be necessary to find the specific codes that the owner failed to comply with. In many cases, it can help to check with the local inspection agency to see if the property owner has been issued any warning or fines. Remember that the violation must link to the accident. For example, you cannot have a personal injury claim for something that happened in the parking lot and cite a violation for something inside the building.
If you are able to find a building code violation that links up to the injury, the property owner is immediately assigned negligence. This is due to a legal concept called negligence per se. This means that the owner is determined to be automatically negligent. Florida’s Standard Jury Instruction 401.8 states that violations of building code statutes constitute negligence per se, so you can see why getting the evidence is so crucial to any personal injury claim.
Code Inspectors often find out about code violations through everyday people reporting it to them. Tenants, visitors, or customers will often experience a problem and decide to report it to the local inspecting agency. If you believe that your injury was the result of the property owner violating the building codes, then you should immediately report it to the local inspection agency.
When you report the issue, ask to speak directly with an inspector. Moreover, do not be afraid to be persistent. Check up with the agency. Make sure that the agency is taking your claim seriously and following up with the property owner. Also, do your research and check the building codes.
If you know a building code violation was the result of your injury, tell the inspector the specific chapter and section of the code that was violated. Also ask the inspector to meet you at the site to show him or her how everything happened. Make sure to back up your claim with photographs or witnesses. A personal injury lawyer can be instrumental to getting your fair compensation.
Florida Personal Injury Lawyers
At Wolfson & Leon, our personal injury attorneys have represented victims of negligence in Florida since 1963. We understand the value of using the Florida Building Code in the prosecution of our premise liability cases. We have offices in Fort Myers, West Palm Beach, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Call us anytime at (855) 982-2067 for a free consultation.