One of the most unfortunate things we’ve seen time and time again when persons with disabilities have suffered a slip, trip, or fall is the rush to blame the injured persons for the incident. Whether it’s insurance adjusters or insurance defense attorneys, the one thing you can count on is for them to blame the victim whenever they get the chance. And when it comes to persons with disabilities, the rush to blame the victim is even more intense than usual.
If you or somebody you know with a disability suffers an injury after a slip, trip, or fall in Broward, Palm Beach, or anywhere else in Florida, call our office today to discuss your rights. Our attorneys have decades of experience representing persons with disabilities in personal injury cases, and we offer free and confidential consultations via phone, Zoom video conference, or in person.
What is the Florida Accessibility Code for Building Construction?
The Florida Accessibility Code for Building Construction (which we’ll just call the Florida Accessibility Code going forward) is part of the Florida Building Code. The purpose of the Florida Accessibility Code is to establish the standards for accessibility to commercial facilities, places of public accommodation, state and local government facilities, private clubs, and residential buildings throughout Florida for persons with disabilities. The Florida Accessibility Code provides standards that property owners and managers have to follow in order to ensure that their premises stay in compliance with Florida law.
The provisions within the Florida Accessibility Code are extensive and govern all sorts of things like the size of curbs and ramps in parking lots, the minimum number of drinking fountains required in parks, the design of stairways in buildings, and a whole lot more.
While certain provisions in the Florida Accessibility Code may seem overly complicated or exacting to some people, you need to keep in mind that the very purpose of the code is to protect the rights of persons with disabilities in Florida. The Florida Accessibility Code’s detailed provisions play a key role in ensuring that persons with disabilities continue to have access to the same places that able bodied persons have access to. For that reason, it’s of the utmost importance that premises owners and managers ensure that their premises are in full compliance with the code.
How Can the Florida Accessibility Code Help You with Your Injury Case?
The case ofKrueger v. Quest Diagnostics, Inc., 280 So. 3d 518 (Fla. 2d DCA 2019) is an extremely important case for the rights of persons with disabilities in Florida.
In Krueger, the plaintiff, an elderly man with disabilities, fell and was injured in a strip mall parking lot. Due to his injuries, he filed a negligence lawsuit against the owner and manager of the strip mall where he fell.
The plaintiff alleged that the defendants negligently maintained the parking lot by not providing a suitable curb that would have allowed handicapped persons to have sufficient direct access to and from the handicapped spaces that were in the parking lot.
At trial, a large part of the plaintiff’s case involved attempting to establish that the Florida Accessibility Code required a minimal distance between a handicapped parking space and an accessible entrance to the building via the shortest accessible route, which the premises was lacking. The plaintiff hired an expert architect who concluded that the parking lot was not in compliance with the Florida Accessibility Code. But the trial judge excluded the expert architect’s testimony because the judge determined that the relevant provisions in the Florida Accessibility Code did not address safety for disabled persons, but instead only addressed accessibility to premises for disabled persons. Without being able to introduce his expert architect’s testimony, the plaintiff essentially had no viable claim for negligence, and the trial judge ultimately entered judgment in favor of the defendants.
The plaintiff appealed the judge’s ruling that took the case out of the hands of the jury. In its opinion, the Second District Court of Appeals pointed out the longstanding rule in Florida that violation of a building code regulation is evidence of negligence. Importantly, the Second DCA disagreed with the trial judge, and the appellate court held that the relevant provisions of the Florida Accessibility Code “promote safety for the disabled” and that the plaintiff’s expert architect should have been allowed to testify.
The appellate court ultimately reversed the trial court’s entry of judgment for the defendants and remanded the case because, had the plaintiff been allowed to introduce the testimony of his architect expert showing that the parking lot was not in compliance with the Florida Accessibility Code, then the plaintiff would have presented a sufficient case to be submitted to a jury.
Despite this important opinion protecting the rights of persons with disabilities in our state, the Florida Accessibility Code continues to be underutilized in personal injury cases. In fact, many Florida personal injury lawyers don’t even know the Florida Accessibility Code exists, much less that it can help them build a solid case for their clients.
Contact Our Office Today for a Free Consultation
Having a disability does not mean that you are not entitled to a safe and secure premises when you go to the supermarket, a restaurant, a movie theater, a shopping mall, or anywhere else in Florida. In fact, one of the most important things about the Florida Accessibility Code is that it helps to ensure that premises owners and managers maintain their premises in a safe condition for all persons.
Our office specializes in slip, trip, and fall cases in Florida. Our office is located in Coral Springs, and we represent clients throughout all of Florida. We will be happy to discuss your case with you over the phone, via video conference, or to meet with you in-person at our office.
If you or somebody you know with or without a disability was injured as a result of a slip, trip, or fall, contact our attorneys today at (954) 833-1440 for a free consultation.
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