Florida business owners have a duty to maintain their property to a reasonable standard of safety for their patrons. This duty includes the responsibility to keep public areas of the business free from dangerous conditions, such as broken glass, spilled liquids, or icy pathways. A business owner can only be held liable for a hazard that they either knew existed or should have known existed at the time of an accident. The Florida Court of Appeals recently addressed a case in which a grocery store was sued by a customer after they were injured when slipping on a hazardous substance in a shopping aisle.
The plaintiff in the recently decided case was shopping at the defendant’s store when they slipped on a dangerous substance in the aisle and were injured. Based on the facts referenced in the appellate opinion, there was no evidence introduced by the plaintiff to demonstrate how long the dangerous condition had existed prior to the plaintiff’s injury. The plaintiff sued the defendant in state court for negligence, alleging that the defendant negligently failed to maintain their store to a safe condition and that the plaintiff was injured as a result.
The trial court rejected the plaintiff’s claim, finding that a valid Florida premises liability claim requires a plaintiff to show with evidence that the defendant had actual, or constructive knowledge of a hazard and negligently failed to act to remediate the hazard. Defendants cannot be held liable for conditions that they could not have been in a position to cure. Because the plaintiff submitted no evidence that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of a hazardous condition, the claim failed under Florida law.
The plaintiff appealed the lower court ruling to the Florida Court of Appeals, where the trial court judgment was upheld. The high court explained that Florida law requires a plaintiff to submit evidence that could be used to show that the defendant was on notice of the hazard (or reasonably should have been), and failed to remediate it. Because the plaintiff in the recently decided case put forth no evidence that the hazard was or should have been detected by the defendant, the plaintiff’s claim fails as a matter of law
Have You Been Hurt in a Slip and Fall?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Florida slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to compensation from the business owner where the fall occurred. Although it can be difficult to make a valid claim for a slip and fall, hiring a skilled team of lawyers and investigators early on can help you improve your chances of receiving compensation. The skilled Florida personal injury team at Friedman, Rodman Frank & Estrada can evaluate your case and get our investigators to work quickly so that all the necessary evidence is collected in order to make a strong claim for damages. Our attorneys represent victims of slip and fall accidents, as well as other personal injury and negligence claims. Call our office at 877-448-8585 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.