Winning a case over a slip and fall that occurred on a cruise ship often requires the same degree of proof needed to win a slip and fall case that occurred at a Florida business. The injured person making the claim is called a plaintiff, and the business is called a defendant. To win the case, the plaintiff has to show that the business was careless or negligent in the way it ran its business—not merely that the customer or passenger was hurt.
If you have been injured by slipping or falling, call me today for a free initial consultation: 1-866-597-4529
HOW A BUSINESS IS RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU SLIP AND FALL
Cruise lines like Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian all have the same responsibility toward their passengers that other Florida businesses like Publix, Burger King, Target, Walmart, and McDonalds have when a customer slips and falls and is hurt: They must operate their businesses safely. Legally, this means that they all must use “reasonable care in maintaining their property in a safe condition” and “must warn of dangerous conditions they know about.”
To illustrate those concepts, let’s examine the recent case of Mr. Terry Tallent, an experienced truck driver who slipped and fell on spilled gasoline and was badly hurt at a Pilot service station located in Punta Gorda, Florida.
Mr. Tallent sued the gas station, but his case was dismissed by the judge before it was ever submitted to the jury. Mr. Tallent testified in his deposition that when he arrived at the station, he noticed there was a spill because trash cans were blocking the aisles. He then proceeded to walk through the spill, and as he approached the front door of the store, he slipped and fell.
BUSINESSES HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO WARN OF DANGERS
Pilot defended the case in a Motion for Summary Judgment and argued that since Mr. Tallent testified that he actually knew about the spill before his fall, Pilot did not have to warn him about it. Judge Charles Foster in Charlotte County, Florida, agreed with Pilot’s defense and dismissed Mr. Tallent’s case—before he ever got to a jury. An appeal followed.
Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court—sending the case back to Judge Foster with an order that the case be submitted to a jury. The appellate court’s found that simply because Mr. Tallent was aware of the spill, Pilot was not completely off the legal hook for its responsibility to maintain their property in a safe condition.
BUSINESSES HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO MAINTAIN THEIR PROPERTY
One of the compelling reasons that the trial court’s dismissal was reversed on appeal was the fact that Pilot’s maintenance employee testified that while he generally follows the company’s maintenance protocol for spills, he was not really sure what he did on this particular day . There was conflicting testimony as to how much gas had spilled and how far it had spread. There was also no indication that Pilot had done anything to contain the spill by using booms or pads to absorb the spreading gas.
The remaining questions about what if anything Pilot did to maintain their property once the spill occurred were enough of an issue that the Appellate court felt the case should be submitted to a jury rather than summarily dismissed by a judge.
VICTORY FOR SLIP and FALL CLAIMANTS
This is an important victory for anyone who is hurt slipping and falling at a business or on a cruise ship. This opinion sends a clear message to Pilot as well as all Florida business owners that they cannot escape legal responsibility to their injured customers in slip and fall cases simply because the customers are aware that they may be walking into a spill, on slippery or wet floors, or under other hazardous conditions–as there is a second responsibility that all businesses must meet which is to reasonably maintain the dangerous condition so that the person does not fall or get injured.
As an attorney who sues cruise ships, I hate when courts grant a defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Summary judgments are designed to deprive the injured their right to a jury trial, and all too frequently trial judges grant them–especially in slip and fall cases like this. I applaud the Second District Court of Appeal’s decision and hope that it will make all Florida business owners take note and do more to protect their customers. Read the Court’s Opinion here.
SLIP AND FALL LAWYER CONSULTATION-1-866-597-4529
I am passionate about helping the injured hold careless businesses accountable. If you have been hurt aboard a Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, or Norwegian Cruise Ship—which are all based here in Miami—or at any other Florida business, please contact me today for a free initial legal consultation. We work with highly experienced and skilled investigators and paralegals to provide our clients individual legal representation and maximize their recovery for pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expense.
Not all slip and fall or trip and fall injuries on a cruise ship or at other commercial property are viable legal cases. However, with over 23 years of legal experience, I am qualified to help you, understand your rights, and analyze your potential case. Call me today at 1-866-597-4529 or email me.