Court Finds Hospital Lacked Knowledge of Black Ice in Parking Garage, Dismissing Plaintiff’s Premises Liability Case

Florida landowners are responsible to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition for those whom they invite onto the premises. This includes not just individuals, but also businesses and government entities. However, not all slip-and-fall accidents will result in the landowner being liable for the injuries of the person who was injured. In order to succeed in a Florida premises liability case, the plaintiff must be able to establish, among other things, that the defendant landowner knew about the hazard that resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries.

Parking GarageIn a recent slip-and-fall case arising out of neighboring Georgia, the court had the opportunity to discuss premises liability law as it pertained to a case involving a man who fell on a patch of black ice after exiting his car in a hospital parking garage. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff failed to meet his burden of showing that the defendant knew about the black ice. As a result, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was dropping his wife off at the defendant hospital for a minor medical procedure. After the plaintiff dropped off his wife, he proceeded to the uncovered top level of the hospital’s parking garage.

As the plaintiff got out of the car, he did not notice any ice in the immediate area. However, video footage showed that there were patches of snow underneath some of the adjacent cars. The plaintiff exited his car, and within three steps, he slipped on a patch of invisible black ice.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the hospital, claiming that the hospital was negligent in failing to clear the ice from the parking lot. The hospital argued that it was not liable because it had no knowledge of the ice, and therefore it could not be held responsible for clearing it.

The court agreed with the hospital and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim. The court was most persuaded by the facts that the hospital had a protocol in place for inspecting the parking garage for any weather-related hazards and that the hospital followed that protocol on the day of the plaintiff’s fall. Essentially, the court held that despite the hospital’s best efforts, the ice remained undiscovered, and the court was unwilling to hold this against the hospital.

In so holding, the court rejected an interesting argument raised by the plaintiff. The plaintiff argued that the hospital should be held liable notwithstanding its lack of knowledge because it actually created the hazard by applying an ice-melting agent. The plaintiff claimed that by causing the naturally occurring ice to melt and then failing to clear the water before it refroze, the defendant “created” the ice. Again, the court rejected this line of reasoning, finding that the refrozen ice was still “naturally occurring.”

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

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Florida personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have extensive experience handling a wide range of Florida personal injury cases, including slip-and-fall cases. We represent clients across South Florida, and we have conveniently located offices in Miami, Naples, Miami Beach, and Homestead. Call 877-488-8585 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Florida’s Recreational Use Statute, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 27, 2017.

Nursing Home Claims Privilege in Face of Plaintiff’s Discovery Request, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 5, 2017.

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