Florida Court Explains Establishing Constructive Notice in a Slip and Fall Case

Generally, a plaintiff seeking compensation for harm caused by a slip and fall accident must not only prove that a slippery substance or condition caused the fall in question but also that the defendant had notice of the condition prior to the fall. Notice may be actual or constructive, which means that the defendant should have known a dangerous situation existed based on the factual scenario of the case. Recently, a Florida court discussed whether the failure to comply with industry standards for building cruise ships provided sufficient grounds to demonstrate that a cruise company had constructive notice that its deck material was unreasonably slippery, in a case in which the plaintiff sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident. If you were hurt in a fall on someone else’s property, you should meet with a skilled Florida personal injury attorney to discuss your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff slipped and fell on a piece of watermelon when she was a passenger on a cruise ship. She suffered injuries in the fall and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, the company that ran the cruise ship, arguing numerous theories of negligence, including negligent maintenance and design. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that it was not aware of the dangerous condition and therefore did not breach any duty owed to the plaintiff. The court ultimately agreed with the defendant and granted the motion.

Establishing Constructive Notice in a Slip and Fall Case

Maritime cases proceed on general principles of negligence law, and the duty owed is to exercise reasonable care towards those people who are not crew members but are lawfully on the ship. What constitutes reasonable care depends on the circumstances, and hinges, in part, on whether a cruise ship owner knew or should have known of a dangerous condition.

A plaintiff in a maritime case can establish constructive notice via evidence that the defective condition existed for long enough to invite corrective measures. Plaintiffs can also establish constructive notice by showing that similar incidents previously occurred and were caused by similar conditions, or that employees posted signs warning of dangerous conditions.

In the subject case, the plaintiff characterized the deck material as unreasonably slippery and claimed that the defendant was negligent in failing to choose a less slippery material or inspect the material to discover that it was unreasonably slippery and make it safe.  In support of her claims, she argued that industry standards pertaining to decking material provided the defendant with constructive notice. The court found that there was no legal support for this argument, however, and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims.

Speak with an Experienced Florida Attorney

Slip and fall accidents can cause significant damages, but in many cases, it can be difficult to prove liability. If you were injured in a fall, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Florida slip and fall lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. are well-versed in what it takes to establish liability in personal injury cases, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact us through our form online or by calling us at 800-283-7442 to set up a meeting.





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