Florida Court Explains a Plaintiff’s Burden of Proof in a Slip and Fall Case

Large box stores service thousands of customers each day. While such stores have an obligation to take measures to prevent harm, hazards often arise that cause slip and fall accidents. While people hurt in falls in retail stores have the right to seek compensation from the party that owns the store, proving liability can be difficult. Recently, a Florida court discussed a plaintiff’s burden of proof in a case arising out of a slip and fall on a transient substance in a store. If you were hurt in a fall, it is smart to meet with a dedicated Florida premises liability attorney to assess what evidence you must produce to recover compensation.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff accompanied his wife on a shopping trip to a warehouse store owned by the defendant. During the visit, he went to the freezer aisle to search for tacos for his wife. He was pushing a shopping cart when he suddenly slipped and fell, injuring his lower back. When he stood up, he observed a puddle on the floor and water leaking from the ceiling above where he fell.

Allegedly, the plaintiff testified at his deposition that he did not know how long the water was present prior to his fall and stated he did not see it before he fell. The defendant moved for dismissal via summary judgment, arguing the plaintiff had not shown that it knew or should have known of the existence of the puddle. The court ultimately denied the motion, ruling that the issue of whether the defendant violated the duty to maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition should rest with the jury.

A Plaintiff’s Burden of Proof in a Slip and Fall Case

Under Florida law, a person that slips on a transitory foreign substance on the floor of a business and falls must demonstrate that the business possessed actual or constructive knowledge of the substance and should have taken the measures necessary to remediate it. Transitory foreign substances include not only liquids but also solids and items and objects present in areas they don’t belong.

In the subject case, the plaintiff argued the defendant had constructive knowledge of the puddle. The court explained that a plaintiff could establish constructive notice via evidence showing that a dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that the defendant should have been aware of it or that the condition occurred on a regular basis and, therefore, was foreseeable. Here, the court found that the plaintiff adduced sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the water had been present for long enough for the defendant to notice it via exercising reasonable care. Thus, the court dismissed the defendant’s motion.

Meet with an Experienced Florida Attorney

Slip and fall accidents can cause significant trauma, and stores that negligently allow dangerous conditions to persist on their premises should be held accountable for any harm that ensues. If you were hurt in a fall at a retail store, it is in your best interest to meet with a lawyer to discuss your options. The experienced slip and fall attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can advise you of your potential claims and aid you in pursuing the maximum damages available under the law. You can contact us through our form online or at 800-283-7442 to set up a conference.







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