Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that raises interesting and important issues for Florida slip-and-fall accident victims. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s case against Walmart should proceed toward trial when there was no actual evidence that the store was aware of the puddle that caused the plaintiff’s fall. Ultimately, the court concluded that Walmart’s “failure to educate” itself regarding a third party’s rental display gave rise to a potential theory of liability, and the plaintiff’s case should proceed toward trial.

Grocery AisleThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff slipped and fell in a Walmart store near a Rug Doctor rental station. The rental station contained several carpet cleaning machines that Walmart shoppers could rent for the day. Pursuant to the agreement between Rug Doctor and Walmart, the rental kiosk was entirely self-sufficient, and no Walmart employees were trained on how to operate the kiosk or the machines.

A video of the period shortly before the plaintiff’s fall showed another customer rent a machine and struggle to get the machine into her cart. The video showed the customer tipping the machine back and forth, potentially causing water to spill; however, due to the quality of the video, no water can actually be seen. After the customer leaves, at least one Walmart employee is seen walking by the rental kiosk. A few minutes later, the plaintiff approaches the area and slips.

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Recently, an appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury lawsuit regarding an issue that often arises in Florida slip-and-fall cases. Specifically, the case deals with the quantum of evidence a plaintiff must provide in order to present a legally sufficient case. Here, the court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s lawsuit, finding that the plaintiff did not provide sufficient notice of the location of her injury.

Cracked PavementThe Facts of the Case

The case stemmed from an accident that the then-79-year-old plaintiff suffered when she was walking and tripped on a crack in the cement. Shortly after her accident, the woman filed a notice of lawsuit with the state’s city council. About two years after her notice of lawsuit, the plaintiff filed a complaint, alleging the city’s negligence for failing to properly maintain its sidewalk. In the lawsuit, she noted the location was “on or near” an off ramp. The city filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the location the plaintiff provided was insufficient to put the city on notice, and since the statute of limitations had passed, the plaintiff should not be granted leave to amend her lawsuit.

Procedural History

In the motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff argued that the city is a “sophisticated entity” and could have found the location of her injury by looking at a map. However, the trial judge granted the motion for summary judgment and agreed that, although the decision was harsh, the plaintiff’s notice was inadequate.

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Before most Florida personal injury cases reach trial, the court hears a motion for summary judgment from at least one of the parties. A motion for summary judgment asks the court to consider all of the uncontested evidence presented by both sides and make a legal ruling in favor of the moving party. Importantly, summary judgment motions can save an immense amount of time if properly filed and litigated. However, it is important to keep in mind that when there is a material issue of contested fact involved in a case, a motion for summary judgment is not appropriate.

Fast FoodA recent case illustrated a court’s unwillingness to grant summary judgment to the defendant in a premises liability case when there was a question whether the defendant had knowledge of the dangerous condition causing the plaintiff’s injury.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was visiting the defendant fast-food restaurant with some family members. After placing his order, the defendant began to walk back to the area of the restaurant where the tables were. As he was walking, he thought he heard a restaurant employee call his name. The plaintiff turned around and tripped on the leg of a high chair that was protruding out into the walkway. The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the restaurant, arguing that the restaurant’s negligent placement of the high chair resulted in him tripping, falling, and sustaining serious bodily injuries.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida premises liability lawsuit involving a plaintiff who slipped and fell as she was entering the defendant store. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s case should be dismissed because there was no evidence showing that the business owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard causing the plaintiff’s fall.

Wet FloorThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was accompanying a neighbor to a nearby big-box retail store. As the two arrived, they went to get a shopping cart under the awning immediately outside the store’s entrance. As the plaintiff started to walk toward the store’s entrance, she felt her right leg give out from under her, and she fell on her left knee. The plaintiff was then taken to the hospital and subsequently filed a premises liability lawsuit against the store.

The plaintiff later testified that she did not see the liquid before she fell, that there were no store employees around the liquid at the time of the fall, and that she was not sure what the liquid was or how long it had been there. The store filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to find that it had knowledge of the liquid.

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As a general rule, Florida landowners have a duty to those whom they invite onto their property to ensure that the property is reasonably safe for their visitors. While the specific level of the duty owed depends on the relationship between the parties as well as the purpose of the visit, in general, landowners must remedy known dangers and warn visitors of those dangers that cannot be fixed.

GravelWhen a visitor is injured on another party’s property, they may be entitled to compensation for their injuries through a South Florida premises liability lawsuit. In order to be successful, a plaintiff must establish that the landowner owed them a duty of care that was breached somehow by the landowner’s conduct, or by the landowner’s failure to take remedial actions. Additionally, a plaintiff must establish a causal link between the landowner’s alleged negligence and the plaintiff’s injuries. A recent case illustrates the type of analysis that courts conduct when viewing premises liability lawsuits.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff dropped a trailer off at the defendant tire shop with her brother. The two entered the building, arranged for the repairs, and left without incident. However, upon returning later that afternoon, the plaintiff fell outside the shop as she stepped off the pavement and onto a slightly sloped strip of gravel that ran alongside the edge of the shop. The gravel was placed alongside the building to allow water to drain away from the shop. As a result of the fall, the plaintiff broke a bone in her leg.

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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.

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In most Florida personal injury cases, the judge’s role is to determine which evidence is admissible at trial, rule on any objections that are made during the course of the trial, and ultimately instruct the jury on the relevant law after the parties have rested. Judges also are responsible for hearing any post-trial motions and ruling on these motions.

Slip and Fall In most cases, once a jury returns a verdict in a Florida personal injury case, that decision is final. However, there are a few exceptions to that general rule. First, either party may be able to appeal a legal decision made by the judge during the course of the trial. For example, if one party believes that the court unfairly kept evidence from the jury’s consideration, they may appeal that ruling to a higher court.

Another example of this is when the trial judge determines that the jury’s verdict is against the manifest weight of the evidence. This is usually argued in a post-trial motion brought by the side that did not prevail at trial, arguing that the jury was wrong in its determination based on the evidence presented. In order to succeed in this type of claim, a party must show that the jury based its decision on evidence that did not exist or was not admitted. A recent case illustrates the courts’ general reluctance to override a jury’s verdict.

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When someone is injured due to the negligence of a Florida government employee or entity, they may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Florida personal injury lawsuit. However, lawsuits that are filed against government defendants in Florida have certain additional requirements that must be met, or the accident victim risks the court dismissing their case before it is heard.

Drain CoverIn Florida, accident victims must file a pre-suit notice to the government agency that they are naming as a defendant. According to Florida Statutes section 768.28, state and local governments in Florida must be served with a pre-suit notice of a claim within three years of the accident. This notice must contain information about the accident, such as where it occurred, who was involved, the alleged acts of negligence, and what is being requested. If a pre-suit notice is not filed or is insufficient, a court may dismiss any subsequent lawsuit. A recent appellate court opinion out of Georgia details one plaintiff’s experience with an inaccurately drafted pre-suit notice.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when he stepped in an uncovered manhole while walking on a paved street in the defendant city. Initially, the plaintiff reported the hazard to the police department and provided the department with the address of 425 Chappell Road. The plaintiff explained to the police that the uncovered manhole was at the intersection of Chappell Road and Mayson Turner Road.

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Florida premises liability lawsuits often hinge on the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendants. This is because any duty that a landowner may owe to a plaintiff depends on the relationship between the parties and the reason why the plaintiff is on the defendant’s property. A recent appellate decision from nearby Georgia illustrates how a plaintiff’s inability to prove that a certain relationship exists between herself and the defendants may be fatal to her claim.

Dangerous StairsThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff rented a condo in the defendant’s condominium complex from the condo’s owner. However, the plaintiff did not enter into a formal written lease with the owner of the condo. Instead, the two had an oral agreement.

While the plaintiff was living in the condo, she was bothered by the fact that the staircase leading up to her unit was poorly lit and did not have a handrail. She informed the condominium association that she believed the condition of the stairs was dangerous and requested that the association take action to make the stairs safer. However, the association did nothing.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an interesting opinion in a slip-and-fall case that presented the court with the opportunity to discuss the res ipsa loquitur doctrine. The case involved somewhat bare allegations made by the plaintiff that were unsupported by any other evidence. As a result, the court determined that the doctrine did not apply and that the lower court was proper not to infer that the defendant was negligent.

StaircaseThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff slipped and fell through a set of wooden stairs at the home where she was living with the defendant. At the time, the defendant was the sole owner of the home. Several years after her fall, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit, seeking compensation for the injuries she sustained in the fall.

The plaintiff claimed that the stairs were rotted due to an insect infestation and that the defendant should have been aware of the problem and warned her of the potential danger. However, since the plaintiff had no evidence that the defendant knew of the stairs’ condition, she asked the court to apply the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur to infer that the defendant was negligent.

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