Florida Court Explains Constructive Notice in Slip and Fall Cases

In Florida, property owners have a duty to maintain their premises in reasonably safe conditions, and if they breach that duty, they can be held liable for any harm that ensues. In addition to proving that an unsafe condition existed on a property, however, the injured party must also demonstrate that the property owner knew or should have known that the condition was present. In a recent Florida ruling, a court discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence of constructive notice in a case in which the plaintiff was injured in a slip and fall accident in a department store.  If you were hurt because of a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, you could be owed compensation, and you should speak to a trusted Florida premises liability attorney to evaluate your options.

The Plaintiff’s Injury

Allegedly, the plaintiff was shopping at the defendant department store when she slipped and fell in a puddle of milk. She suffered significant injuries and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, asserted a negligence claim, and arguing that the puddle had been present for such a length of time that the defendant should have been aware of its presence. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the claims against it should be dismissed. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Constructive Notice of a Dangerous Condition

Under Florida law, a business owner has an obligation to take reasonable and ordinary care to maintain its premises in a condition that is reasonably safe for invitees and to warn people entering the property of any dangers that the owner knows of and that invitees are unlikely to discover. Under this standard, if an individual slips and falls in a business on a transitory and foreign substance on the floor, the person who fell must prove that the business owner either knew that the substance was on the floor or had constructive knowledge of the condition.

In the subject case, the plaintiff did not allege that the defendant actually knew that the milk was on the floor, so the court narrowed its focus to the issue of constructive notice. The court explained that constructive notice can be demonstrated via circumstantial evidence that shows that a condition existed for so long that the business owner, by exercising ordinary care, should have known of its existence. Liquid on a floor, in and of itself, is inadequate to show constructive notice. In the subject case, the court explained that the plaintiff failed to offer any evidence regarding how long the puddle was on the flood. Thus, the trial court’s ruling was affirmed.

Speak to an Experienced Florida Attorney

Slip and fall accidents frequently occur in stores, and in many cases the store owner should have taken action to prevent people from suffering harm. If you suffered injuries in an accident on another party’s property, you could be able to pursue a claim for compensation and should speak to an attorney. The experienced Florida premises liability attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. are skilled at aiding injured parties in the pursuit of damages, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us through our online form or at 800-283-7442 to set up a meeting.

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