Slip and Fall

If you slip-and-fall and are injured in a Florida store, you may have a valid legal claim for damages. Here’s the reason: Businesses that invite members of the public onto their property have a legal responsibility to make sure those patrons are, “reasonably safe.”

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small mom-and-pop spot or a big box chain or your neighborhood diner: Any business that invites members of the public onto their property has an obligation to take certain measures to keep patrons out of harm’s way. That does not mean, however, that all slip-and-fall cases are easy sailing through the legal system.

At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale slip-and-fall injury attorneys recognize there are some very specific legal standards and proof burdens that have to be met in order to succeed in these cases. This is especially true in Florida, where changes to state law a few years ago resulted in even stricter criteria for successful slip-and-fall claims.

Slip-and-fall accident victims in Florida, per F.S. 768.0755 , are required to show:

  • The business created the dangerous condition OR
  • The business was directly informed of the specific condition OR
  • The dangerous condition for such a length of time that the business should have discovered it in the course of using reasonable care OR
  • The condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable

AND

  • The property owner was negligent in failing to correct it and/ or warn customers about it.

Even if you are unsure whether your claim is viable, it can be worthwhile to speak to an attorney. You may be able to recover damages for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

Your attorney’s job will be to launch an investigation of the accident (you cannot trust the business or its employees to conduct a fair investigation) and to engage the defendant and insurance company. In many cases, companies are eager to settle to avoid the time and expense of preparing for a civil trial. If a company is prepared to fight the claim, our experienced team will be ready to face them in court.

What Is a “Dangerous Condition” in Slip-and-Fall Cases?

There is no cut-and-dried definition in the statute that clearly tells us what conditions are dangerous and which aren’t. It’s often a judgement call made by the courts.

Generally speaking, a dangerous condition is one that poses an unreasonable risk of harm to those on the site. It is also one that a reasonable person likely wouldn’t have anticipated. A dangerous condition is one that creates a substantial – as opposed to minor, trivial or insignificant –risk of injury when the property is used with due care and in a manner that is reasonably foreseeable.

There is a direct implication here that customers must use care to avoid hazards or dangers that are open and obvious.

There are many different kinds of premises liability claims that can stem from a host of dangerous conditions, such as untrimmed foliage or inadequate lighting or negligent security. But when it comes to slip-and-fall injuries, some examples of potentially dangerous conditions include:

  • Rainwater tracked into a store entrance from customers;
  • Smashed fruit on the grocery store floor;
  • Spilled drinks on a nightclub dancefloor;
  • Food samples dropped by workers or customers;
  • Liquid soap that fell off a store shelf onto the tile floor;
  • A puddle of gasoline in a gas station parking lot.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course, and your injury lawyer can help you determine – probably during a free initial consultation – whether the hazard you encountered was an unreasonable one.

Who is a Reasonable Property Owner?

The success of many slip-and-fall lawsuits will often depend on the plaintiff’s ability to prove the store owner failed to act in a reasonably prudent manner. But what does that mean?

Again, there is no bright line rule for this, but some of the questions our injury attorneys may ask in order to ascertain the reasonableness of the property owner include:

  • Was the dangerous condition in existence long enough for the property owner to know about it?
  • Was there some type of standard procedure the business had for regularly inspecting the site for hazards?
  • What proof does the owner have of this inspection standard – or that it was followed?
  • Was there some legitimate reason why the hazard was there (i.e., the floor was just cleaned) and if so, did the store warn customers about it (i.e., slippery floor signs)?
  • Was there any way the store could have made it safer for customers?
  • If there were warning signs or barriers to prevent customers from encountering the hazard, were they adequate?

Even if a property owner is able to show the customer was responsible to some degree for failing to avoid the dangerous condition, such “comparative fault” is not cause for dismissal of an injury case in Florida. That means that whatever percentage of responsibility the judge or jurors decide that you hold, your damages would be reduced by that percentage, but it doesn’t bar your claim altogether.

If you have been injured in a Florida slip-and-fall accident, we can help.

Call the injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm at (877) 277-3780 or locally in Broward at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties.