Florida Appellate Court Determines Water Company May Be Liable in Slip-and-Fall Case

Earlier this month, a Florida appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case against a water company after a woman tripped on a valve owned by the company. The court ultimately determined that the water company may be held liable not just for the maintenance of the valve itself but also for the area surrounding the valve.

Cracked PavementThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was walking on a public street when she tripped on a water valve cover. According to the plaintiff, the valve cover had become separated from the surrounding asphalt and had risen slightly above ground level, creating a tripping hazard. The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against both the city as well as the water company.

Three months after the plaintiff’s injury, the water company fixed the asphalt around the valve cover. The case proceeded toward trial, and in a pre-trial motion, the water company was successful in excluding evidence of the asphalt repairs it had made from the jury’s consideration. After that, the water company argued that the evidence presented was insufficient to show that it was liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because it was not responsible for maintaining the area around the valve cover. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment in favor of the water company.

On appeal, the plaintiff claimed that the lower court made two errors. First, the plaintiff claimed that it was an error to prevent introducing the evidence of the repairs made to the asphalt by the water company. The appellate court agreed, finding that the evidence was proper to show that the water company had exercised ownership over the area around the valve cover.

Second, the plaintiff argued that the lower court was mistaken to find that the water company did not have a duty to maintain the area around the valve cover. The court agreed, holding that a jury may very well determine that the water company should be liable, given the specific facts of this case. The court explained that the plaintiff tripped on the valve cover itself, and even if the valve cover was exposed due to the separating concrete, the water company still had a duty to prevent a known tripping hazard. As a result of the court’s decision, the plaintiff’s case will proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.

Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or someone in your family has recently been a victim of a slip-and-fall accident in the South Florida area, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Florida premises liability lawsuit. Landowners have a duty to make sure that their property is safe for those whom they invite to enter. The dedicated personal injury attorneys at the South Florida law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have extensive experience handling all types of Florida personal injury cases, including those arising from slip-and-fall accidents. To learn more, and to speak with an attorney about your case, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation, Calling is free and will not result in any obligation to you unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Appellate Court Invalidates Arbitration Agreement, Rejecting Nursing Home’s Argument, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 30, 2017.

State Court of Appeals Invalidates Nursing Home Arbitration Contract, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published April 13, 2017.

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