Articles Tagged with slip-and-fall injury

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A Florida appellate court recently affirmed summary judgment favoring warehouse giant Costco in a slip-and-fall lawsuit filed by a woman who broke her knee after falling inside a Miami store.slip and fall

The primary reason the case failed was because, the court held, plaintiff had not produced evidence indicating that store staffers had knowledge of the liquid substance on its entrance way floor.

The element of a store owner’s knowledge regarding a slippery substance on the floor is outlined specifically in F.S. 768.0755. This provision requires plaintiffs in Florida slip-and-fall cases to prove either actual or constructive knowledge on the part of the defendant. Actual knowledge would be if a store staffer created the condition or if they had been informed about it directly. Constructive knowledge is a little trickier, but can be established with circumstantial evidence that shows the condition listed long enough the store should have discovered it in using ordinary care or that the condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.

In this case, according to Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals, plaintiff accompanied a neighbor to Costco, a store to which she had never been. When they got there, plaintiff’s neighbor went to get a shopping cart and plaintiff began walking toward the entrance. As she walked, she felt her right leg go out from underneath her, and she fell onto her left knee – breaking it.  Continue reading →

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National Weather Service records indicate it has never snowed in Naples or Fort Myers, even as overnight temperatures have dipped into the freezing territory in recent weeks. Our northern neighbors – even those just in the northern part of the state – have been dealing with frozen precipitation. This buildup of snow and ice has the potential to generate numerous hazards, including those entering and exiting businesses. In many states where this is a regular hazard, the courts follow something called the “continuing storm doctrine.” This means that business owners have no duty to customers to remove snow and ice from sidewalks when a continuing storm does not allow the owner a reasonable opportunity to remedy the issue. slip and fall lawyer

This type of case is known as a “premises liability” cause of action, more commonly known as a slip-and-fall. Premises liability claims in Florida are heavily dependent on the legal status of the visitor (which dictates the duty of care they are owed). For instance, those who are on site for the financial benefit of the property owner are owed the highest duty of care.

F.S. 768.0755 indicates that when plaintiffs are injured in Florida slip-and-fall accidents caused by transitory foreign substances on a walking surface, plaintiffs must prove defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazardous condition and failed to address it. Constructive knowledge is proven via circumstantial evidence that shows:

  • Condition existed for such a length of time that the business would have or should have discovered it in the exercise of ordinary care;
  • Condition occurred with such regularity it was foreseeable.

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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 →