When you’re hurt in a slip and fall accident, you need to know how to file a slip and fall case in Tampa to hold the responsible party accountable. If a dangerous condition caused your injury, you may deserve financial compensation for your damages. However, to receive monetary payment, you must initiate a legal claim. We know it’s hard to know where to begin without the right support and resources. Here is our step-by-step guide to filing a slip and fall case in Tampa, FL, explained by our Tampa personal injury attorneys:
Investigate the Case
Before you can file the case, you need to do some background work. First, you need to know what your legal claim of action is. In a slip and fall case, it’s typically premises liability under Florida law 768.0755¹. The claim may be based on negligence, too. When you investigate the facts, you can determine what kind of case you have and get ready to file the case. In addition to knowing what kind of case you have, you also need to know who you’re bringing the claim against. In a slip and fall case, you typically bring the case against the person or business entity responsible for maintaining the property. In the case of a business, that’s usually not the employee who rushed to the scene when the fall occurs. When a business has multiple locations, you need to look up the correct legal address for the court papers. The Florida Secretary of State business search has this information. You may name multiple defendants if it’s appropriate.
Select the Venue and Jurisdiction
Now that you know who you’re suing and what you’re suing for, the next step is figuring out where to file the case. You need to be aware of two things—venue and jurisdiction. Venue is typically where the accident occurs or where the defendant’s principal place of business is. Jurisdiction tells you in which court to file the case. In Tampa, cases for less than $30,000 go to the Hillsborough County Court. When the case is worth more than $30,000, it belongs in the 13th Circuit Court, which covers all of Hillsborough County. Outside of Hillsborough County, the case might go to that county court—Pinellas, Hernando or Pasco counties. Each county has its own court, and the state is broken up into various regions for circuit courts. When you determine where to file the court, you can move on to preparing your paperwork.
Prepare the Summons, Complaint and Civil Docket Sheet
Generally, to file a slip and fall case in Tampa, you need a summons, complaint, and civil cover sheet.
A summons is a document that formally tells the other party that they are being sued. The form states the basic case information. The purpose of the summons is to give notice to the other party that they are being brought to court for a legal matter.
A complaint is the detailed part of a slip and fall case. It states several important things:
- That the court is the proper court with venue and jurisdiction to hear the case
- A summary of the facts of how the accident occurred
- Details of the victim’s injuries
- Statements of the legal cause of action (premises liability/negligence)
- A valuation of damages
- A statement for relief that the victim is claiming financial compensation
- Signature of the plaintiff
The complaint outlines the basic theory of the case. It summarizes what happened, why the defendant is legally responsible and what the victim deserves in compensation.
Civil Cover Sheet
The civil cover sheet gives the court the information that they need to schedule the case. It’s a form created by the court that tells them what type of case it is (probably premises liability for a slip and fall case) and what the victim is claiming in compensation. You state whether the claim is class action (usually not) and whether any related cases have been filed. You must also say whether you want a jury trial in your case.
Pay the Filing Fee
The court charges a filing fee in order to start a new case. In Hillsborough County Circuit Court, the filing fee is $400. Filing fees in county court range from $55-$400 depending on the value claimed by the victim.
Submit Your Documents to the Court
When all of your documents are prepared, you can submit them to the court. The State of Florida allows pro se litigants to file electronically (e-file) or in person at the clerk of court’s office. For electronic filing, you can begin at myflcourtaccess.com. You pay a small convenience fee to file online. Filing online is the same thing as handing the documents to the county clerk. When the filing process is complete, your case is underway.
Serve the Opposing Party
The last thing to do to file a slip and fall case in Tampa is to serve the opposing party with the court paperwork. You must put them on notice that they’re being sued. There are rules for who can serve legal process and how it must be served. Florida Statutes 30.231² establishes fees for service of process by the sheriff. Once you’ve prepared your paperwork, filed it with the court and served it on the other party, you have filed a slip and fall case in Tampa.
Slip and Fall Attorneys in Tampa – Free Consultation
Filing a slip and fall case in Tampa is a complex matter. Even if you have a great case, procedural mistakes can stand in the way of getting the compensation that you deserve. Our attorneys have experience filing slip and fall cases in Tampa and know the steps involved to work through the legal process. Contact our attorneys for your free consultation.