Florida -- Slip and Falls in Business Establishments
Slip and falls in a commercial establishment, whether it be a grocery store, a restaurant or a shopping mall, are extremely common. How does this affect you and what are you rights if you are injured? You might think that the business is automatically at fault, but this is not necessarily the case.
IntroductionFor the most part, when slip and falls do occur, it is because of something on the floor that someone may have spilled or dropped, like water, a grape or grease - any substance that was transferred or placed there is otherwise known legally as a 'transitory foreign substance.' However, slipping itself does not guarantee that you are owed anything or that the business is at fault. This guide will explain the factors that contribute to these distinctions.
Controlling law: Florida Statutes, Section 768.0755768.0755 Premises liability for transitory foreign substances in a business establishment.--
(1) If a person slips and falls on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment, the injured person must prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it. Constructive knowledge may be proven by circumstantial evidence showing that:
(a) The dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have known of the condition; or
(b) The condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.
(2) This section does not affect any common-law duty of care owed by a person or entity in possession or control of a business premises.
ExplanationWhat does this all mean? It means that even if you are a shopper in a grocery store and slip and fall on some liquid on the floor, you still must prove that the store knew or should have known that the liquid (or the "dangerous condition") was there and the store should have fixed it. As you can imagine, it is probably difficult to show that the grocery store had "actual" knowledge about the water unless it was an employee who spilled it and consciously ignored, or a shopper spilled water in front of a employee who saw it and decided to not clean it up.
How do I prove that a commercial establishment was at fault?As a result of the law, it is more reasonable to show the store had "constructive knowledge". How do you do this? Perhaps the water was so dirty, which presumes it had been there for so long that people had walked on it already for quite some time and tracked dirt on it, and fortunately no one had fallen until you. Or maybe, it was leaking water from a faulty freezer that they knew had issues in the past, had tried to fix, but it kept on leaking. There are other examples to prove constructive knowledge, but as the law says, it is strictly "circumstantial evidence." To make matters more difficult for the injured victim, the store can provide evidence that they have a protocol in place to check for these dangerous conditions, or even state that someone had just walked by the area moments before the spill happened, so there is no way they could have knowledge, actual, constructive or otherwise, that there was a dangerous condition on the floor for any appreciable period of time.
ConclusionThe bottom-line is that it is far from a guarantee if you are injured as a result of a slip and fall in a business establishment in Florida. As you can see, the law in Florida as it stands currently is very pro-business oriented, and it is difficult to handle to handle such a claim on your own. If you are injured in a slip and fall in a business establishment in Florida, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer to protect your rights and get you the compensation that you deserve.