What You Must Prove To Win a Florida Slip-and-Fall Injury Claim
A store that welcomes customers onto its premises has a legal duty to keep them reasonably safe. An “unreasonable” condition that contributes to a customer’s fall can result in an injury claim against the store. After someone has been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, whether it is at a ‘big-box’ store like Walmart, or a grocery store like Publix or Winn-Dixie, he or she will want to be compensated for injuries sustained.
As grocery store accident lawyers in Miami, we understand Florida’s slip-and-fall laws and how to hold these retailers and supermarkets accountable for our client’s injuries, lost wages, medical expenses and pain and suffering. The first thing we do is determine how, when and where the accident occurred. Not all accidents in grocery stores are viable legal cases. In other words, simply getting injured at Publix does not necessarily make Publix legally responsible.
Florida law requires that the supermarket pay claims only when it can be proven that the accident was one that they either caused, or knew or should have known would happen- and failed to prevent it. It is a confusing and often difficult legal burden to meet which is why it is very important that if you are hurt at a grocery store in Miami that you consult with an experienced slip and fall personal injury lawyer immediately.
What Is a Slip-and-Fall Accident?
In general terms, a slip-and-fall includes any time someone loses their footing or balance, falls and is subsequently injured on that property. Several different types of accidents are included in the slip-and-fall category:
- Trip-and-fall, which happens when someone falls over an object in his or her walking path or on an uneven surface;
- Slip-and-fall, which occurs when a slippery liquid or object causes someone to fall on the property; and
- Step-and-fall, which includes when the fall is caused by a low spot in the path or a hole on the property.
Statute of Limitations
Under Florida law, a slip-and-fall case must be filed within four years from the date the injury occurred. After that period of time has lapsed, the person will not be able to bring forth a lawsuit.
Florida Premises Liability Law
Florida premises liability law requires a business owner or landowner to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition for guests or customers who are expected to come onto the property. This duty includes conditions of the property that the owner or manager know or should know are not safe. If a problem is discovered and is not remedied in a reasonably quick manner, the owner or manager can be found negligent if a person is injured on that property as a result of the unsafe condition.
What Elements Need to Be Proven?
The following four elements must be proven to win a Florida slip-and-fall claim:
- The defendant (i.e. – the landowner or business) owed a duty of care to the person who was injured on their property;
- The defendant knew or should have known the condition could cause harm to the public;
- The dangerous condition must be proven to be significant and not a minor defect;
- The plaintiff (i.e. – the injured person) must prove that they suffered injuries as a direct result of the dangerous condition.
Duty of Care
In the case of Sammon v. Target, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida explained what this duty of care was when it came to a slip-and-fall personal injury case. In this case, the plaintiff fell as she crossed through an empty check-out aisle to retrieve an item she had forgotten. The plaintiff sued based on the theory of negligence, but the court found that the store did not breach a duty of care owed to the plaintiff. The Court stated the injured party must prove that the owner had a duty of care to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition and to give the invitee warning of concealed perils which were known or should have been known to the landowner and were unknown to the invitee. In this case, the store did not know of the wet floor and no evidence was present to give the Court reason to believe that they should have known of the dangerous condition. Therefore, the court granted summary judgment to Target because it held that the plaintiff had not shown constructive or actual knowledge on the part of the corporation.
The injured party will need to show that the business owner or property owner did not use reasonable care in ensuring that the premises were kept safe and in proper condition to avoid slips, falls or other accidents.
In addition, the injured party will need to show that he or she was injured as a result of the business owner or property owner’s breach of duty of care and inability to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition.
All of these elements require specific evidence to successfully prove and win your case. Time is of the essence in these type cases, key evidence can quickly disappear and be cleaned up by the store in an attempt to minimize liability. It is important to get photos on your cell phone of the conditions that caused your fall and your injuries immediately after the fall.
If you have been hurt at a grocery store in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, The Keys or anywhere in the State of Florida it is critically important for you to consult with an experienced Personal Injury Lawyer who will fight to protect your legal rights. When selecting a lawyer- ask them about their qualifications and experience in claims against grocery stores. Spencer Aronfeld is a Board Certified Trial Lawyer and our firm, Aronfeld Trial Lawyers has successfully represented people and their families in claims against grocery stores across the country since 1991. Call us today for a free initial consultation 1-866-597-4529 or email [email protected] and speak with a grocery store personal injury lawyer about your potential claim.