Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

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Fort Myers wet floor signWet walking surfaces are a top cause of slip-and-fall injuries in Florida. But are businesses required to post a “wet floor” sign to warn you?

A wet floor sign may indeed play a big role in the strength of your case, but the simple answer to the question about whether Florida has a “wet floor sign law” is no.

As a Fort Myers slip-and-fall injury attorney, I have successfully handled many of these premises liability claims. It is important to understand that these cases are often more complicated than they may initially appear. The outcome will depend heavily on the factual circumstances. The presence (or lack thereof) of a wet floor sign is just one of those. Continue reading

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Whether you are a construction worker, nurse, or teacher, if you are injured on-the-job in a Florida slip-and-fall, workers’ compensation may be your sole source of financial recovery. Workers’ compensation is considered the exclusive remedy for most work-related injuries in Florida, meaning it is the only recourse one has against an employer. Workers do not need to prove negligence so long as they were hurt in the course and scope of employment, and in turn the employer covers the cost of treatment and a portion of lost wages during recovery.

However, workers’ compensation tends to fall short of the damages (pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment, etc.) one could recover in a personal injury lawsuit. Because the exclusive remedy provision of Florida workers’ compensation law makes it almost impossible to win a personal injury case against one’s own employer, our South Florida slip-and-fall injury lawyers would primarily be concerned with the potential liability of a third-party property owner/controller or other liable parties. This would be someone other than your direct employer. (Note: Independent contractors are often not  considered “employees” for workers’ compensation purposes and thus may be allowed to pursue injury claims against the company for whom they were working.)

Slip-and-fall cases are a type of premises liability. Premises liability is a legal concept referring to an injury caused by an unsafe or defective condition on someone else’s property. To win, a plaintiff must prove negligence (failure to exercise reasonable care) in owning/maintaining the property. The mere fact of a dangerous condition or occurrence of injury does not automatically mean the property owner was negligent. In most cases, you must prove the property owner knew or reasonably should have known the site was unsafe and failed to take proper steps to address the danger. (The exact proof burden for slip-and-fall injury claims is spelled out in F.S. 768.0755.)

It is important that if you are seriously injured at work and believe a third-party was at least partially responsible that you speak with an experienced injury lawyer about your legal options. You may have grounds to pursue additional damages beyond workers’ compensation.

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Naples slip-and-fall injuryTo prevail in a Florida slip-and-fall injury lawsuit, plaintiffs need to prove the business establishment had either actual or constructive notice of the hazardous condition, as outlined in F.S. 768.0755. Similar rules exist in other states, such as Wisconsin, where the state supreme court recently held there was sufficient evidence of constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition – even if the plaintiff could not prove exactly how long the slippery substance had been there.

Before detailing what happened in this case, our South Florida slip-and-fall injury lawyers think it is important to explain the difference between actual and constructive knowledge in a premises liability case.

The actual notice requires evidence that a business was actually aware of a particular danger in that specific place and time. Constructive notice, meanwhile, requires presenting circumstantial evidence that shows:

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Florida slip-and-fall lawsuitGuests who are injured on someone else’s property may have the option of filing a claim to be compensated for injuries by the property owner. These are a type of premises liability claims, and one example is if a patron at a grocery store is injured in a slip-and-fall accident on a “transitory foreign substance”. To prevail in a Florida slip-and-fall lawsuit, F.S. 768.0755 requires the plaintiff’s needs to show the defendant property owner/manager had either actual or constructive knowledge of the slipping hazard. A “transitory foreign substance” was defined by the Supreme Court of Florida as “any liquid or solid substance, item or object located where it does not belong.” Owens v. Publix Supermarkets, Inc., 802 So.2d 315, 317 (Fla. 2001)

Actual knowledge means the property owner was fully aware of that particular danger at that specific place and time. Proving this can be tough. Constructive knowledge is how most of these cases are established.

Constructive knowledge can be established by laying out circumstantial evidence that shows:

  • The hazardous condition existed on site for so long that the business establishment should have known of it were they exercising ordinary care;
  • The dangerous condition occurred with such regularity that it was foreseeable.

This element is critical. Recently, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the dismissal of a Florida slip-and-fall lawsuit of Oliver v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. on the basis that the plaintiff had failed to establish defendant’s constructive knowledge of a slip hazard. Continue reading

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Florida premises liabilityProperty owners in Florida are expected to maintain their site in a condition that is safe for patrons, guests, and residents. However, in premises liability cases where an injured person knew or should have known the potential for danger, property owners often raise something called the “assumption of risk defense.”

Assumption of risk is a legal doctrine that holds that a person cannot recover compensation for injuries they suffered by voluntarily exposing themselves to a known hazard. In other words, the property owner argues that the person who was injured knew about the risk but took the chance of being injured anyway.

In some states, if a property owner can prove the assumption of risk, the plaintiff will not be allowed to recover any damages for their injuries. In Florida though, it works a little differently because of something called, comparative fault;  as outlined in F.S. 768.81. Comparative fault allows individuals to pursue claims for damages – even if they are partially to blame. However, the amount they can collect will be reduced by their percentage of fault. So if a plaintiff wins $100,000 in damages, but the court finds the plaintiff was 30 percent at-fault, the most plaintiff will be awarded is $70,000.

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