Florida landowners owe a duty of care to those whom they invite onto their property. Generally speaking, a plaintiff must show that the defendant knew or should have known about the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s fall and that the defendant failed to act to remedy the hazard or warn the plaintiff about the hazard. A plaintiff’s negligence in failing to notice an obvious hazard may be a defense to a Florida premises liability lawsuit.
Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a plaintiff who claimed that he did not notice the hazard that caused his fall because he was distracted by an employee of the defendant hardware store. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff was responsible for his distracted state because he initiated contact with the sales associate.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff visited the defendant hardware store one morning to pick up a part for his sprinkler system. The plaintiff entered the store through the garden section. The floor of the garden section as wet, as employees had just watered the plants.
Evidently, the plaintiff approached an employee in the garden section, asking where the sprinkler parts were located. The employee directed the plaintiff to follow him, and started to walk towards the sprinkler section. The plaintiff immediately began to follow the employee, and after a few steps slipped in a puddle of water.
The plaintiff brought a premises liability lawsuit against the hardware store. In response, the hardware store claimed that it could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because the wet floor was open and obvious, and the store had placed “Caution: Wet Floor” signs across the floor. The plaintiff’s argued that the reason he did not notice the wet floor was that he was distracted by the employee, who directed the plaintiff to follow him.
The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument, finding that the plaintiff was the one who was responsible for his own distraction. The court explained that in certain situations, a plaintiff may be excused from noticing an obvious hazard, but only when they are “necessarily” distracted by something that was caused by the defendant or one of the defendant’s agents. Here, the court pointed out that the plaintiff initiated contact with the store employee, and thus the plaintiff’s distracted state was not a “necessary” result of the employee’s actions.
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 through a Florida premises liability lawsuit. The dedicated Florida injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank have decades of collective experience representing victims in all types of Florida personal injury claims. We provide free consultations to accident victims in which we can evaluate your case and inform you of your options moving forward. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schedule your free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Court Declines to Impose Duty on Landowner to Trim Trees Near Intersection, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 29, 2018.
Court Permits Premises Liability Case to Proceed After Applying the Res Ipsa Loquitor Doctrine, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 13, 2018.