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Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

Florida is an international hub for some of the world’s most well-known amusement parks. While various governmental entities issue guidance and regulations regarding amusement park safety, many rides pose inherent risks. Although most amusement park-goers sign release of liability waivers in the event of an accident or injury, these waivers are not iron-clad. In some instances, injury victims may still pursue claims against a negligent amusement park.

Recently, a 14-year-old boy fell to his death at Florida’s ICON Park. The teenager fell from a FreeFall drop tower ride, which transports riders up and then drops them about 400 feet at speeds exceeding 75 mph. According to authorities, the 14-year-old weighed more than 300 pounds and stood nearly 6-feet, 5-inches tall. The ride’s operations manual states that the maximum passenger weight is about 287 pounds. The manual further states that ride operators should use care when seating large guests. Operators should confirm that the passenger fits within the contours of the seat and brackets. In this case, the employee operating the ride at the time of the incident completed training at the end of February.

Moreover, safety officials visually inspected the ride in a “non-destructive test.” Reports indicate the ride met Florida’s qualifications. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is working with the sheriff’s office to investigate the incident and make changes to protect amusement park patrons.

Recently, an appeals court issued an opinion stemming from a woman’s injuries after falling in a Florida restaurant parking lot. According to the record, the woman and her then-boyfriend were meeting another couple at another restaurant in Naples. The man dropped the woman off in front of the restaurant while looking for parking. As the woman was looking toward the restaurants in the area, she tripped and fell to the ground. The victim could not specify what caused her fall, but it occurred around the pavers in front of the restaurant.

The woman filed lawsuits against the City and restaurant, adding that the restaurant negligently or incorrectly stalled the pavers, making them dangerous. The restaurant moved for summary judgment, asserting several defenses. The lower court ruled in favor of the restaurant’s motion to dismiss, and the woman appealed. On appeal, she argued that the restaurant failed to establish that they did not maintain a duty to the woman. In response, the restaurant claimed that it did not have a duty to maintain the public sidewalk and that it was the City’s responsibility.

In Florida premises liability cases, the inquiry into a defendant’s duty of care is not dependent upon ownership, instead of whether the party has control over the premises. The law requires those who have control over premises to keep the premises safe and in repair. Further, in cases where two entities share control of premises, the law imposes the duty of care upon both of them.

Most Florida negligence lawsuits that proceed to a trial are ultimately decided by a jury. Juries are made up of randomly selected members of the public, who are not expected to have any specific knowledge of tort law. Courts use jury instructions, which are given to the jurors before deliberation, to explain the law to the jurors, and ensure that a verdict is supported by the law. Jury instructions are determined after each side proposes and argues to the court the exact wording for instructions that will allow the jury to reach a legitimate verdict. If an instruction is given to the jury that does not accurately explain the law surrounding the issue at hand, a verdict could be overruled on appeal. A Florida appellate court recently addressed an appeal filed by a defendant in a slip and fall case, which argued that the jury was improperly instructed before reaching the verdict.

The plaintiff in the recently decided case is a woman who was injured after she slipped on an oily substance while shopping at the defendant’s supermarket. Based on her injuries, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant in state court, alleging that the defendant had negligently maintained the premise of their business, and the plaintiff was injured as a result of that negligence. The plaintiff’s case went to trial, after which the jury was given instructions explaining the basis for a premises liability claim against a Florida business.

One instruction, proposed by the plaintiff, stated that the defendant should be liable for the plaintiff’s injuries if evidence demonstrated that the defendant negligently failed to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition, or negligently failed to correct a dangerous condition about which the defendant either knew or should have known, by the use of reasonable care, or negligently failed to warn the plaintiff of the dangerous condition about which the defendant had, or should have had, knowledge greater than that of the plaintiff.

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.

Because of Florida’s mild weather, it is unsurprising that many people choose to spend their winter holiday enjoying the state’s beaches and sunshine. While out and about this holiday season, it is still important to be cautious of your surroundings and environment, especially with crowds. When near water, there are often sharp rocks, poorly maintained infrastructure, or areas particularly prone to accidents or injuries taking place. To best protect yourself and your loved ones, it is crucial to stay vigilant this holiday season.

In a recent District Court of Appeal decision, the court had to consider a negligence action resulting from a slip and fall that took place on a Florida seawall dock. In the case in question, the plaintiff alleged breaches of duty by the defendant stemming from the defendant’s failure to safely maintain its premises and their failure to warn the plaintiff of the seawall’s dangerous condition. The plaintiff was using a specific part of the dock for the first time when he tripped and fell because of a divot. In response, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s negligence was the sole cause of the accident and that they did not owe a duty to warn the plaintiff because the cracked seawall from which the plaintiff was injured was open and obvious, so the plaintiff’s knowledge was equal to or greater than the defendant’s.

The trial court granted a motion for summary judgment, stating that the divot on which the plaintiff tripped was clearly visible and should have been obvious to the plaintiff. Although the defendant technically owed a duty to warn the plaintiff and to maintain its premises safely, the open and obvious nature of the condition precluded a finding of breached duty from the defendant.

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident in Florida, it is crucial that you know what options you have to recover. Should you decide to file a personal injury claim, there are various laws that may apply to your case. Because Florida is one of the few states with detailed slip and fall laws, potential plaintiffs are advised to hire an experienced slip and fall or personal injury lawyer to assist them with navigating their lawsuit.

In a recent District Court of Appeal decision, the court considered a slip and fall injury that took place in a Winn-Dixie grocery store in Florida. The plaintiff filed a negligence action against the defendant, Winn-Dixie, alleging that she suffered injury after slipping on liquid detergent on the floor of the grocery store. According to the plaintiff’s testimony, there were no footprints in the detergent, and she had no knowledge of how long the detergent had been on the floor or whether any employees knew of the spill. A Winn-Dixie store manager testified that five minutes before the incident, an employee had checked the area. The lower court granted summary judgment in favor of Winn-Dixie, finding that the plaintiff failed to establish that the defendant had actual or constructive notice of the condition.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the lower court erred in granting summary judgment to the grocery store because discovery was ongoing and there was an abuse of discretion. The District Court of Appeal disagreed and found no abuse of discretion. Because trial courts can grant a motion for summary judgment despite the pendency of discovery, the lower court did not err in its decision.

When most people visit a hotel, their main goal is to relax and unwind. They do not expect to be injured simply by walking about in their room. But unfortunately, hotels are one of the most common locations of Florida slip-and-fall accidents.

Of course, when hotels are sued, they come to court armed with a large corporate legal team. This reality can turn slip-and-fall cases into an uphill climb for injured guests. Working with a law firm with a proven track record in slip-and-fall cases can help increase the odds of winning your case.

A recent court decision demonstrated just how difficult it can be to win these cases in Florida.

Vicarious liability, or liability imputed to another party based on its relationship to the wrongful actor, can provide another avenue for a Florida injury victim to seek compensation. A recent decision from a federal appeals court illustrated an important difference between claims based on direct liability versus vicarious liability.

In the decision, issued by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in an appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the court described the facts giving rise to the case, which took place on a cruise ship. During a ten-day cruise, a passenger fell during a dance competition on the cruise ship. The passenger claimed that her partner in the dance competition, who was a cruise ship employee, released her hands as she leaned away while doing a dance move. She claimed that as a result, she fell backward and hit her head on the deck. She was later diagnosed with traumatic brain injury because of the fall. The passenger sued the ship’s owner for negligence, alleging in part that the employee failed to act in a way that would keep the passenger safe. A federal district court originally found that the shipowner was not liable to the passenger because it did not show that the owner had notice of the employee’s allegedly negligent dancing before her injury.

However, the appeals court held that under maritime negligence law, in a claim of negligence based on vicarious liability (as opposed to direct liability), the shipowner is liable for an employee’s negligence even if the owner is not directly liable for anything that it did or did not do. The court explained that when a shipowner is alleged to be directly liable for a passenger’s injuries, such as negligently failing to properly maintain its premises, the shipowner had to have notice of the risk-creating condition. In contrast, in a negligence claim based on vicarious liability, the plaintiff does not need to prove the shipowner had notice.

Every year, many families travel to tropical destinations aboard cruise ships for the vacation of a lifetime. With so much to do and so many opportunities to relax, a cruise sounds like the perfect option for any adventurous traveler. However, accidents can occur while on these trips. When they do,  those who are responsible can be held accountable through a Florida cruise ship injury lawsuit.

In a recent federal appellate opinion, a plaintiff suffered a severe injury while on a cruise ship vacation with her family. According to the court’s opinion, on the fourth day of the trip, the plaintiff went to pick up food from the ship’s breakfast buffet. As she was returning from the buffet line, she was forced to take a detour because diners at a nearby table had rearranged their chairs. While moving around a busboy station, the plaintiff tripped over a cleaning bucket that she had not seen, suffering injuries to her shoulder and fracturing her arm. For the remainder of the cruise trip, the plaintiff was bedridden. Following the trip, she sought medical attention from various doctors and physical therapists due to her injuries. The plaintiff subsequently brought a lawsuit against the operator of the cruise ship.

At trial, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff with $650,000 in past general damages, $500,000 in future general damages, and $61,000 in past medical expenses, all to be discounted by 10% due to the plaintiff’s comparative negligence. The total award amounted to roughly $1.1 million in favor of the plaintiff. Following the verdict and damages calculations, the defendant persuaded the lower court to reduce the jury’s award to approximately $16,000, on the theory that a plaintiff’s recovery was limited to the amount that was actually paid for her medical treatment.

Florida premises liability lawsuits often involve a slip and fall or trip and fall. These accidents can occur at businesses, restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, nursing homes, and public buildings. Generally, under state law, business owners and land occupiers owe invitees a duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. Despite the law, property owners often fail to maintain their property safely and often delay making repairs or address hazards.

On the other hand, in some instances, a business owner may believe their property is safe. In these cases, the trier of fact will determine whether the property is safe under a “reasonable person” standard. In other words, the court will ask whether another similarly situated entity would act similarly or evaluate the danger in the same way. Moreover, some business owners may argue that the danger was “open and obvious.” When this occurs, the court will determine whether the condition was so open and obvious that it serves as a warning to the invitee to protect themselves from its dangers.

For example, in a recent opinion, a Florida court addressed whether a groove in the pavement in an ice cream store’s parking lot was an open and obvious hazard. In that case, a woman was navigating a parking lot to get to the ice cream shop when she tripped and fell into a groove in the pavement. The woman initiated a lawsuit against the parking lot owner, alleging that her injuries arose because of its negligence. At trial, the defendant argued that the depression in the pavement was so open and obvious that the woman should have realized its dangers and taken steps to avoid hurting herself.

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