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What Does “Open and Obvious” Mean in a Slip and Fall Case?

What Does “Open and Obvious” Mean in a Slip and Fall Case?

By | Slip and Fall Accident | No Comments

If you have suffered an injury in a slip and fall accident caused by a hazardous condition on someone else’s property, it may seem like a cut and dried case of premises liability. Further, it would seem that you would quickly be awarded damages or offered a settlement for your injuries. However, the property owner’s defense attorney will not see it that way, and he may attempt to use the “open and obvious” rule as a defense for his client.

What is the Open and Obvious Rule?

The “open and obvious” rule is an exception to premises liability law that can be used for the defense of a property owner to explain why he or she shouldn’t be held responsible for injuries that resulted from a fall.

Determining whether the open and obvious rule will apply to your case is a question that only an experienced premises liability attorney can answer. Premises liability law is often complicated and hiring a lawyer who is familiar with it is always in your best interest.

What is Considered “Open and Obvious” in the State of Florida?

Generally speaking, property owners have a responsibility to the people who visit their property to keep the area safe, without dangerous or hazardous conditions that could lead to injury. However, according to the open and obvious rule, they may not be liable for their visitors’ injuries when there is a clearly dangerous condition. In other words, visitors are expected to exercise discretion when they come across an obvious danger that is in plain sight.

Some examples of hazards that have been deemed by the courts to be open and obvious are:

Planters that are six feet in diameter

A sidewalk curb

A ladder on the selling floor of a store

Uneven concrete where there were no obstructions to the person’s view

Brick border around a tree

Raised joints where asphalt met concrete in a parking lot

How is the “Open and Obvious” Rule Treated in Florida?

There are numerous ways that the open and obvious rule can be used as a defense for property owners, but it doesn’t always end in their favor. To get a better understanding of how it works, here is an actual example from Florida courts.

In a case in which the plaintiff tripped over some exposed computer cables and fell, no obstacles were blocking her view of the cables and no previous incidents involving similar circumstances ever occurred. When you consider the facts, it is clearly apparent that the cables presented an obvious hazard for tripping.

Nonetheless, the court found that, although the cables qualified as an “open and obvious” condition and discharged the duty to warn, it did not discharge the property owner’s duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. In conclusion, the plaintiff still had a valid claim even though the danger was glaringly obvious.

Learn More about “Open and Obvious” from Premises Liability Lawyer, Joe Osborne

If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, the property owner may attempt to use the open and obvious rule as a defense. It is important that you contact Boca’s slip and fall accident attorney, Joe Osborne for help proving that the dangerous condition was not open and obvious. Contact his office today at (561) 293-2600 to have your case reviewed.

What is a Letter of Protection in a Personal Injury Case?

What is a Letter of Protection in a Personal Injury Case?

By | Personal Injury | No Comments

When you are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, whether it’s a car accident, slip and fall accident, medical malpractice, or other personal injury, and you don’t have medical insurance or the coverage you do have isn’t sufficient to cover your medical expenses, a Letter of Protection might be a solution for you.

A personal injury case cannot likely be proven if you do not receive medical care. However, if you don’t have money to pay medical bills, then you cannot obtain the medical care you need. Essentially, a Letter of Protection (LOP) is a contract that is agreed upon by you, your attorney, and your doctors. It will allow you to get the medical attention you need from your medical provider, while your attorney agrees to pay the provider from the settlement you receive before you have access to any of the financial reward.

What Are the Stipulations in a Letter of Protection?

While the specific language in letters of protection can vary, they generally state:

That the medical provider will treat your conditions while your case is pending.

That the medical provider will not demand immediate payment of your medical expenses and will not turn your account over to collections, thereby leaving your credit undamaged, as long as the letter of protection is in effect.

That your attorney will pay your medical provider directly from your personal injury settlement as soon as the funds clear the trust account.

Not all doctors or medical providers will choose to enter into such an agreement, but many will.

How Does a Letter of Protection Affect the Settlement Distribution?

To better understand how a LOP affects the settlement process, you first need to know how the settlement process normally works. When a settlement in a personal injury case is reached, the insurance company of the defendant will mail a check to the plaintiff’s attorney, which the attorney then deposits into a trust account. The trust account is an account that is heavily regulated by the Florida Bar, in order to protect clients. The attorney then must wait for the settlement check to clear. Once it’s cleared, the lawyer has to obtain an approval from the client about how the funds are to be disbursed. Then, a check is written to the attorney for costs and fees, and a check is written to the client for the remainder.

When a letter of protection is being used, before the check is written to the client, there will be a check written to the medical provider to cover the client’s medical bills, since they were not paid up front. Keep in mind, a LOP doesn’t mean that the client isn’t responsible for the medical bills. Even when there is no financial recovery in a case, the bills have to be paid – by the client.

Letters of protection can be a useful tool when a client cannot pay his or her medical bills resulting from a personal injury. If you have been injured due to negligence, but have no way to pay your medical bills, discussing a letter of protection with your personal injury lawyer is a great idea – one that may work well for you, allowing you to get the medical attention you need and the compensation you deserve for your damages.

Boca’s personal injury attorney, Joe Osborne, can help you determine the best way to proceed with your case and your medical expenses. Contact him today at (561) 293-2600, to get started on your case. Don’t delay, you have a limited amount of time in which to file your claim.