We have all heard the commercials… “Injured? Hurt? Slip and fall? We will make sure you are compensated!” But what exactly is a “slip and fall” accident? Who is responsible for the injuries? More importantly, what has to be proven for one to be compensated for their injuries? The answers might surprise you.
A “slip and fall” accident is a civil action for negligence in which the plaintiff/injured party is injured as a result of falling or tripping on a foreign object (a material that does not belong there) or liquid substance while on the property of another. The most common occurrence is slipping and falling on a wet floor at a grocery store or some other sort of convenience/retail store.
The party responsible in a “slip and fall” action is determined by the legal relationship between the injured person and the landowner. Under Florida law, there are three possible legal relationships between an individual and a landowner. A person is either a (1) trespasser; (2) a licensee; or (3) an invitee.
An invitee is a person who enters onto a landowner’s land at his express or implied invitation, and who enters for a purpose relating to the landowner’s interests or activities. For example, a customer in a grocery store or a patient at a doctor’s office is an invitee. In most “slip and fall” cases a plaintiff/injured person is characterized as an invitee (a lower duty is owed to licensees and trespassers).
Generally, a landowner owes an invitee a duty to use reasonable and ordinary care in keeping the property reasonably safe for the benefit of the invitee. This duty includes: (a) to warn the invitee of nonobvious, dangerous conditions known to the landowner; (b) to use ordinary care in active operations on the property; and (c) to make reasonable inspections to discover dangerous conditions, and thereafter, make them safe.
Under Florida law a landowner owes an invitee all of the above mentioned duties, but with an added twist. In Florida, a landowner’s duty to an invitee includes the duty to use reasonable efforts to keep the premises free from transitory foreign objects or substances that might foreseeably give rise to an injury. Transitory foreign objects or substances includes the following: water, garbage, and food. This is a very key Florida specific distinction. In other words, in a Florida “slip and fall” case the plaintiff/injured party must show that the landowner had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken actions to remedy it. This standard applies to all non-obvious and transitory dangers. If a dangerous condition is open and notorious, then a plaintiff/injured party is under a duty to take reasonable steps in order to avoid the unsafe condition. For example, if a plaintiff/injured party is aware of water spillage in a supermarket, they must make their best efforts to avoid walking and slipping on it. These standards make “slip and fall” cases in Florida infinitely more difficult than in states where the landowner/invitee relationship is defined by the general principles laid out beforehand.
In conclusion, “slip and fall” cases are not guaranteed winners and can be very complicated. You need a competent well versed attorney on your side ready to fight for your rights. If you have been injured as a result of a slip and fall, then give us a call (888) 450-4909.