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The Importance of Establishing a Landowner’s Knowledge of the Hazard in Florida Slip-and-Fall Cases

Like most other personal injury cases, Florida slip-and-fall claims are brought under the theory of negligence. Thus, to succeed in a slip-and-fall case, a plaintiff must be able to establish that the owner or lessee of the property where their fall occurred had knowledge that the hazard existed. A recent state appellate decision illustrates this requirement.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff and her daughter were visiting her daughter’s friend’s home so that the girls could get ready for a school dance. The day before, there was a light snowfall, however, it was undisputed that there was no snow on the ground at the time the plaintiff arrived. As the plaintiff exited her car and approached the front door, she slipped on some ice, but did not get hurt. When the plaintiff got inside, she told her daughter’s friend’s father (the defendant) that the front steps were icy.

As the plaintiff was getting ready to leave, she again told the defendant that the front steps were icy, and the defendant asked them to leave through the garage door. The plaintiff and the girls left through the garage door, and the plaintiff slipped and fell on a patch of ice next to the front driver’s side door of her car. The plaintiff broke her ankle in the fall. She later filed a premises liability case against the defendant.

The defendant claimed that he was unaware that the driveway was icy. He admitted that he could have used ice-melt, but chose not to do so because he was afraid it would get tracked into his home. The case went to trial, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the jury’s verdict was against the weight of the evidence.

The Court’s Opinion

The court held that the jury’s verdict was supported by the evidence and should stand. The court first noted that there was no evidence that the defendant had actual knowledge of the icy driveway, and that to succeed, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had constructive knowledge of the ice.

The court explained that the jury was presented with evidence that would allow it to determine that the defendant did not have constructive knowledge of the ice on his driveway. The court explained that the jury was free to draw inferences from the testimony presented by the witnesses, and that it was up to the jury to determine if the defendant had constructive knowledge of the icy driveway. Here, the court noted that it had not snowed or rained on the day of the accident, that both the plaintiff and the defendant thought the driveway looked clear at a glance, and that it was not negligent per se to choose not to spread ice-melt after a winter storm.

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

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Florida slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. These cases often come down to each side presenting their side of the story, and letting the jury decide which side is more credible. Thus, having a dedicated South Florida personal injury on your side can help make the difference in your claim. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation with one of the dedicated Florida slip-and-fall accident attorneys at the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank.

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