Florida’s grocery stores, shopping malls, restaurants and big box retailers like Costco, Target, K-Mart, WalMart, Home Depot and BJ’s Wholesale Club all have a legal duty to make sure that their customers are not hurt by a slip and fall on their property. Unfortunately, Americans are falling and getting injured in record numbers. According to the National Safety Council more than 25,000 Americans trip and fall every single day. Each year, there are nearly 8 million reported injuries due to falls, sending 2 million victims to emergency rooms for treatment.
Sadly, 21,000 Americans die as a result falling every year. Falls are the leading cause of death for adults 73 and older and the second leading cause of death from ages 60-72. Fall downs can cause serious injuries including fractured hips, ankles, arms and legs, torn tendons, muscle damage and joint injuries. The most serious slip and fall accidents can cause brain and spinal cord damage.
When an employee falls down at work in Florida and is injured they may be entitled to compensation thru Florida’s workers compensation statute. The average compensation paid to an employee for a slip and fall claims ranges from $4,700 to $22,800. Ironically, employee slip and fall cases make up a very small percentage of the total number of slip and fall accidents that happen every day.
People often mistakenly believe that merely slipping and falling in a Florida store entitles them to compensation. Florida Statute 768.0755 requires all Florida business owners to maintain their premises in a safe condition. However to win a slip and fall case against a Florida grocery store, shopping mall or other establishment, the injured claimant must prove that the business owner knew about the unsafe condition and should have taken steps to fix it. Dangerous conditions in Florida slip and fall cases can include things like loose tiles, uneven steps and poor lighting.
Foreign substances on a floor can be anything that makes the flooring more slippery and dangerous. For example, we have sued Florida grocery stores like Publix, Winn Dixie and Whole Foods for customers who have been injured by slipping on water, grease, oil, banana peels and cherry pits. Cherry pits are actually common causes of falls in Miami grocery stores because people eat the produce and spit out the pit onto the floor causing a dangerous and slippery condition.
Publix Supermarkets, Inc.for example is one of the largest-volume supermarket chains in the United States. It has over 1000 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee. It maintains its corporate offices in Lakeland, Florida. Publix benefits tremendously from Florida’s slip and fall statute which protects Florida business owners by making it very difficult for the injured to win their cases.
Florida Statute 786.0755 “Premises liability for transitory foreign substances in a business establishment” is Florida’s slip and fall law. It requires that the injured prove that the grocery store or shopping mall operator actually knewof the dangerous condition in order hold them responsible for any injury. This law makes it difficult to win a Florida slip and fall accident case because it is hard to prove what the store owner actually knew.
786.0755 (a) and (b) allows the injured to sue a Florida shopping mall, grocery store or restaurant even when the owner claims it did not actually know about the dangerous condition. This is called constructive notice. For example, a persistently leaking refrigerator in the Publix produce isle that causes a pool of water to accumulate every day is a dangerous condition. If a person were to slip and fall on the water, Publix could be held responsible even if they claim they did not know about the leak. Constructive notice exists when the dangerous condition existed long enough that the business should have known of it or happens so often the store should have foreseen the danger.
As a South Florida slip and fall lawyer the best advice I can give store owners to avoid customer injuries is to routinely inspect and maintain their floors. If a store owner finds a dangerous condition such as a leaking refrigerator, broken display or loose flooring they should repair it immediately and post the appropriate warning signs.