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Slip and falls are more common than one might expect and most injured people do not know their options. On the other side, most Florida businesses do not know their obligations and duties to keep their locations safe for customers. Florida law protects business owners like grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, shopping malls and department stores from legal responsibility for injured customers who have accidents caused by conditions that are deemed “open and obvious.”

Slip and Fall Case Dismissed

For example, Broward County Judge Carol Lisa Phillips recently dismissed a case against the Festival Food Market brought on behalf of Paulette de Cruz-Haymer, a Fort Lauderdale woman who tripped and fell on a floor mat as she was leaving the store-injuring her neck and back.

The mat was placed outside the only entrance/exit of the store while she was inside shopping. On her way out, her husband stepped over the freshly placed mat and noticed it was not fastened to the ground and had not been laid flat. Moments later, when Ms. de Cruz-Haymer exited the store, she caught her foot in a “hump” in the mat.

The store moved for a summary judgment, which is a legal maneuver frequently used by defendants in Florida to have a personal injury case dismissed before the case is presented to a jury. Judge Phillips agreed and dismissed the case, forcing Ms. de Cruz-Haymer to appeal.

Slip and Fall Case Appeal

The 4th District Court of Appeal hears appeals from Broward County’s 17th Judicial District court and ruled: that property owners in Florida such as the Festival Food Market owe two independent legal responsibilities to customers:

  1. Maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition, and
  2. Warn of hidden dangers.

The court concluded that since both Ms. de Cruz-Haymer and her husband both knew that the mat was there and that it had not been fastened to the floor, it could not be considered to be a hidden danger. However, since the plaintiff’s alleged that the mat had been placed incorrectly with “humps;” an argument could be made to a jury that the store had failed to properly “maintain its property” in a safe condition. Since this remained a fact in dispute, the judge’s dismissal was inappropriate and the case was reinstated with instructions to proceed to a jury trial.

This is an important case for both anyone injured in a Florida business, as well as for commercial property owners in Florida. It clarifies the legal duty owed to customers and vendors who have been involved in an accident. In short, it holds businesses responsible to not only warn of conditions like wet and slippery floors, loose tiles or frayed rugs, but also to repair and maintain their property to prevent anyone from getting hurt.

Slip and Fall Claim: Personal Injury Attorneys Who Can Help

Our Personal Injury attorneys are passionate about helping people who have been hurt by business owners who put their profit over the safety of people. If you have fallen at a Publix, Walmart, Target, Costco or Winn Dixie-please email me, Spencer Aronfeld, or call our shopping mall accident law firm in Miami today toll free: 866-597-4529. We accept cases against business and stores across the State of Florida including Tampa, Sarasota, Jacksonville, Orlando, Kissimmee, Fort Pierce, Boca Raton, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Aventura, Miami-Dade, Hialeah, Miami, Homestead, Florida City and Key West. We work on a contingency basis, meaning, we do not charge a fee unless we are able to collect for our clients. Call today.