Boca Raton Slip and Fall Lawyer
According to the Florida Department of Health, falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury emergency room visits for the majority of age groups in Florida.Further, falls are the also the leading cause of injury requiring hospitalization for the majority of age groups in Florida. And here in Palm Beach County, falls were – by far – the leading cause of injury requiring hospitalization, nearly five times the second leading cause of injury requiring hospitalization (car accidents).
What duties do property owners have to people entering their property?
Under Florida law, property owners have an obligation to keep their properties safe and free from dangerous conditions for people entering with permission. The reason for these rules is simple: when you go to a business or property owner’s premises – and particularly where you are a paying customer – you should expect to be safe.
Depending on the type of property and why the person is entering the property, the duty may be different.Under Florida law, there are three types of visitors: (1) invitees, (2) licensees, and (3) trespassers.
Invitees are persons who enter a property to conduct business, such as going to a property owner’s grocery store to buy food. Invitees are owed the highest level of care. The business owner must keep their property in a safe condition and regularly inspect for conditions that could harm invitees.
Licensees are persons who enter a premises for the owner’s convenience with the owner’s consent. Licensees include, for example, social guests.Property owners must keep the property safe and fix unsafe conditions.
Trespassers are persons who enter a person’s property without permission. Even though trespassers are not allowed on the property, property owners still owe trespassers a duty to prevent reckless or intentional injuries.
What evidence do I need to win my slip and fall case?
Most slip and fall accidents occur in businesses open to the public, such as malls, grocery stores, and restaurants. In these cases, it is not enough to simply slip and fall on a substance or dangerous object. Instead, the injured party must show that the business owner knew about the substance or dangerous object or should have known through reasonable care. Florida has a statute, Florida Statute Section 768.0755, which sets forth the standard to prove your slip and fall case. Under the statute, the injured party must prove that the business owner had either actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition.
Of course, the type of evidence will vary with each case. As an example, in some cases an employee may have known about the dangerous condition and done nothing about it. This would be considered actual notice. In my experience, these cases are rare.
Instead, most slip and fall cases involve constructive notice. Under Florida Statute Section 768.0755, constructive notice occurs where either(1) the dangerous condition existed for such alength of time the business owner should have known about it, or (2) the condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.
Numerous cases have discussed the circumstances which may establish that a business owner had constructive notice of the dangerous condition. Examples include:
- Constructive notice could be established by a large puddle of water, which was 6 feet by 12 feet in diameter;
- Constructive notice could be established by the size of the puddle, as well as the source of the puddle (a ceiling leak);and,
- Constructive notice could be established because the employee could see the puddle from his or her workplace, there was evidence of lack of inspections, and the injured party was soaked from the dangerous condition.
Florida law also recognizes another theory of liability, called the mode of operation theory.Under this theory of liability, when a business owner operates his or her business in a certain way that creates a dangerous condition, he or she might be liable under the mode of operation theory.Additionally, the injured party does not have to establish constructive notice because the business owner is considered to be actively negligent as a result of creating the dangerous condition. Case examples include:
- Mode of operation theory appropriate where the plaintiff slipped and fell near a vegetable bin that was filled with ice and there was water near the bin where the plaintiff fell;
Grayson v. Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc., 576 So. 2d 417 (Fla. 3d DCA 1991)
Erickson v. Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc., 649 So. 2d 942 (Fla. 3d DCA 1995)
Greenleaf v. Amerada Hess Corp., 626 So. 2d 263 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993)
Torda v. Grand Union Co., 157 A.2d 133 (N.J. 1959)
- Mode of operation theory appropriate in a cafeteria style restaurant where there was evidence that (1) there tended to be spills in the area where the plaintiff fell and the floor was sometimes greasy, (2) meat pans were carried from the kitchen to counter over the area where the plaintiff fell, (3) many of the food items offered to the customers were of the type which could fall to the floor, and (4) the restaurant made available to customers a route to the restrooms near the area where the plaintiff fell;
- Mode of operation theory appropriate where, among other things, evidence showed that salad bar in supermarket was “precarious” because customers regularly caused items from the salad bar to fall on the floor, the defendant did not have an employee monitoring the salad bar (even though it had a policy requiring so), and the defendant did not follow its policy regarding cleaning logs/reports; and,
- Mode of operation appropriate concerning how the defendant replenished its vegetable bins.
What do I do if I was recently involved in a slip and fall accident?
Without question, the most important thing you can do is to preserve evidence. If you can, photograph the scene and, if possible, the dangerous condition that caused you to slip and fall. Not surprisingly, business owners will clean up the dangerous condition quickly after learning of the slip and fall. If you are able, take photographs of the dangerous condition which caused you to fall as well as the surrounding area. With these photographs, you might be able to piece togetherhow long the dangerous condition existed and where it came from.
Further, save the names and contact information of any witnesses, as they may remember what happened and, in some instances, seen and observed things you did not.
Also, you must demand the business owner preserve any surveillance video showing the accident. This is done by your lawyer through a “preservation of evidence” letter. These letters arefairly technical and must contain specific language in order to be effective.
What types of injuries are common for slip and fall cases?
Common injuries for slip and fall cases include:
- Broken bones;
Ciminski v. Finn Corp., 537 P.2d 850 (Wash. Ct. App. 1975)
Kelly v. Stop and Shop, Inc., 918 A.2d 249 (Conn. 2007)
Food Fair Stores of Florida v. Moroni, 113 So. 2d 275 (Fla. 2d DCA 1959)
- Sprained ankles and wrists;
- Traumatic brain injuries; and,
- Cuts and bruises.
What types of damages can I recover for my slip and fall case?
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, you can recover damages for lost wages, medical expenses, past and future physical pain and suffering, and emotional pain and suffering.
What is the statute of limitations for a slip and fall case?
In Florida, the statute of limitations for a slip and fall case is 4 years, but only 2 years if the injury results in death. If the slip and fall lawsuit involves a governmental entity, then the statute of limitations is 3 years and there are additional pre-suit requirements that must be met before filing a lawsuit.
However, waiting to pursue a potential slip and fall case is a bad idea. As discussed above, evidence regarding the slip and fall needs to be preserved as quickly as possible.