Articles Posted in Slip and Fall Accidents

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Businesses in Florida have a responsibility to their patrons to make sure the site is reasonably safe and there are no concealed dangers. If there are hazards, the property owner/ manager has a duty to warn patrons about it so they can protect themselves. pallets

This is the crux of premises liability law in Florida. However, it’s not without exception. In addition to F.S. 768.0755, which limits the conditions under which a property owner can be liable for slip-and-fall injuries, case law has established that businesses are not responsible for warning patrons about dangers that may be open and obvious. This is widely recognized affirmative defense in premises liability cases known as the “open and obvious doctrine.” Essentially, people have a responsibility to use reasonable care to avoid injury. A defendant (business) may not be liable where plaintiff (the injured person) acts in a manner that disregards ordinary caution or reasonable care in the face of a known or obvious dangerous condition.

In a recent case before Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal, justices affirmed summary judgment in favor of defendant in trip-and-fall case wherein a plaintiff tripped over an empty pallet just outside the entrance/ exit doors of a grocery store.  Continue reading →

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Some people go to the beach fearing only the small chance they’ll encounter a shark close to shore. In fact, there are a number of other more serious hazards on land. boardwalk

That’s what one man found while visiting Myrtle Beach, SC. According to a local news report, the man was staying at a local hotel in August 2014. As he leaned on a railing of a narrow boardwalk leading onto the sand, the railing gave out. The man fell off the walkway and is now suing the City of Myrtle Beach, the entity that owns and maintains the pathways that lead to the beach.

In his premises liability lawsuit, the man alleges the boardwalk was not properly built in the first place, and thereafter was not properly maintained. However, the city is relying on the state’s recreational use statute. Florida has one too. Basically, if a landowner allows their property to be used free of charge for public recreation, the rights of those people to sue the entity or company for negligence are significantly undercut. In fact, the only way to prevail is to assert gross negligence. In this case, it would mean gross negligence in the way the boardwalk was designed, constructed or kept. Plaintiff’s attorneys say they believe their case is strong.  Continue reading →

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Holiday shopping is seen by some as an enjoyable way to get into the seasonal spirit. Others view it as more of a stressful chore. But in both cases, it should be safe. Unfortunately, our Fort Myers injury attorneys have seen too many cases of holiday shoppers suffering some type of injury due to a failure by property owners, managers or employees to keep the site free of unreasonable hazards. holiday shopping

These dangers might include:

  • Perilously-stacked merchandise;
  • Slippery floors;
  • Poorly illuminated parking lots;
  • Broken stairs;
  • Uneven sidewalks;
  • Inadequate security;
  • Cluttered aisles.

These incidents can result in serious – and sometimes disabling – injuries to shoppers. Yes, customers do have a responsibility to be on the lookout for obvious dangers and to avoid them using reasonable care. But as part of a legal classification of visitors known as “business invitees,” shoppers are owed the highest duty of care under the law. That means property owners must not only avoid creating hazards and address them when they become known, but also to regularly inspect the site for them.  Continue reading →

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Leonard Cohen, a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet, novelist and painter, was reportedly at peace with the idea of death, hoping only it wouldn’t be too “uncomfortable.” The icon, author of “Hallelujah,” died in his sleep last month. However, his manager later revealed that the 82-year-old’s death may have been linked to an earlier fall, which he had suffered prior to his death. cane

With our population living longer, the threat of a serious fall affects an increasing number of us. Although many of us tend not to think of falls as being all that serious, the reality is falls are the No. 1 cause of accidental death in the elderly. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the incidence rate has climbed steadily in the last 10 years. Often, falls are not just painful in the immediate aftermath, but also for months and even years afterward.

The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery reports the 1-year mortality rate for over-65 patients admitted to the hospital following a fall is 33 percent. Many times, a bad fall that results in an elderly person being admitted to the hospital can have a prognosis that is as poor as some stage IV cancers. Of course, those who are hospitalized are more likely to have higher rates of mortality as it is, because they are older and have a number of other serious conditions. But comparatively, the one-year mortality rate for older patients admitted with pneumonia is about 20 percent.  Continue reading →

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A woman was shopping for plants on a steamy summer afternoon in Las Vegas three years ago when she slipped and fell on a puddle of water. Upon falling, she smacked her head on the concrete floor of the outdoor facility. plantsale1

She suffered serious injuries, including a fractured skull and traumatic brain injury. She is no longer able to smell or taste. For the rest of her life, these are pleasures the mother-of-three will no longer derive.

Now, she is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from the store, arguing her slip-and-fall injury was foreseeable and preventable and the store owed a duty to make the site safe for customers. In order to succeed in a claim for punitive damages, one needs to show not only was defendant negligent, but that defendant was grossly negligent or displayed wanton or reckless disregard for the safety and well-being of others. Here, plaintiffs argue this is proven based on the fact there were 33 prior incidents at other stores within the chain in which people slipped and fell in the outdoor garden sales area.  Continue reading →

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Sidewalks are intended to be a place where pedestrians can safely traverse without fear of stepping into the path of an oncoming car or bicyclist.sidealk1

But there are still hazards. Vehicles backing out. Vehicles careening off the road. Beyond that, the walking surface itself has the potential to be dangerous if it is not kept in acceptable condition, with tree roots or other defects resulting in cracks, uneven surfaces and protrusions.

In the event a Fort Myers sidewalk fall results in injury, plaintiffs may have a couple options. The first is to ascertain whose responsibility it was to maintain the sidewalk.  Continue reading →

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Athletes put their bodies through punishing routines in order to ready themselves for competitions. They know they must be in top physical shape in order to win. They may even expect to get hurt in the course of competing. But when an injury happens off the field or court, it can result in serious consequences not only to their health, but their livelihood. tennis

That’s what’s being alleged by pro-tennis player Eugenie Bouchard, who has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Tennis Association and the U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in connection with a slip-and-fall she suffered in a physical therapy room. Bouchard’s lawsuit was filed little more than a month after winning her final match at the U.S. Open.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges she fell as a result of coming in contact with a slippery, foreign and dangerous substance on the tile floor of a physical therapy room operated by defendants. Continue reading →

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One key defense used in the tort action of slip-and-fall premises liability is the “open and obvious doctrine.” While property owners have a duty to maintain the site to be reasonably safe to guests, those guests also have a duty to avoid dangers that are glaringly open and obvious.hotel

However, the defense isn’t absolute. Florida courts will apply the doctrine of comparative fault – that is, the percentage of fault held by the injured party – to determine whether damages should be reduced accordingly. Many other state courts do the same.

In the recent case of Carter v. Bullitt Host, LLC, the Kentucky Supreme Court reversed an earlier grant of summary judgment favoring defendant in a slip-and-fall case, finding the lower courts failed to properly apply the comparative fault doctrine in a slip-and-fall lawsuit wherein the slippery condition was naturally-occurring and the hazard was deemed open and obvious. Rather than determine what percentage of fault plaintiff had in the case (potentially reducing damages), the lower courts simply rejected his claim outright. The state high court held that was improper, and a jury should decide the percentage of fault apportioned to each party for the accident and injury. Continue reading →

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Florida’s stringent slip-and-fall law, updated in 2011, covers incidents that occur at colleges and other institutes of higher learning, according to a recent ruling by the 4th DCA.
puddle
The court in McCarthy v. Broward College ruled the provision of F.S. 768.0755 that states “in a business establishment” is applicable to universities.

The totality of the updated law states a person who is injured after slipping and falling on a foreign transitory substance (water, grease, sand, oil, cleaning solution, wax, etc.) in a business establishment has to prove the business had actual or constructive knowledge of the potentially dangerous condition and failed to take action to remedy it. Actual knowledge means the establishment was informed of the problem or noticed it. Constructive knowledge essentially means “should have known.” This element of the statute can be proven by showing either the condition existed for a certain length of time that would suggest in the ordinary exercise of due care, the company would have discovered it OR that the condition occurred with such regularity that it is considered foreseeable.
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In Florida, if you slip or trip and fall in a doctor’s office or hospital and are injured, is it considered a medical malpractice case or a premises liability claim?

It’s an important distinction because the answer to this question is going to impact whether you must retain expert witness testimony, what kind of notification requirements you must meet, the relevant proof burden, the general amount of damages you may be awarded, and the applicable statute of limitations deadline.

Just as an example of the differences, Florida’s statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases is two years, while the deadline for personal injury cases is four years.
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