Florida Court Explains Liability for Slip and Falls Caused by Transitory Substances

Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injury. Parties who sustain injuries in falls can seek damages from the owner of the property where the fall occurred. Proving liability can be challenging, though, depending on what triggered the fall. In a recent Florida opinion in which the court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, the court discussed what evidence a plaintiff must produce to prove liability for a slip and fall accident that was caused by transient substances. If you were hurt in a fall in a store, you should contact a Florida premises liability attorney to assess your options for seeking compensation.

The Plaintiff’s Fall

It is alleged that the plaintiff was walking through an aisle at the defendant store when she slipped and fell. After she got up, she observed an orange liquid on the floor. She sustained injuries in the fall and subsequently filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant. During her deposition, the plaintiff testified that she did not know how long the liquid had been on the floor or how it arrived there. Further, she stated it was free from any tracks other than those caused by her shoe, and she did not see any dirt marks.

Reportedly, the defendant’s representative, who was deposed as well, stated that surveillance footage showed an employee stocking the aisle where the plaintiff fell immediately prior to the fall, and part of his job was to check the floor for spills. The representative also reported the measures the store routinely took to identify and remedy hazards. Following discovery, the defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing the Plaintiff failed to establish notice as required to recover damages under Florida law.

Proving Liability for Slip and Fall Accidents Caused by Transitory Substances

In Florida, store owners have a duty to take reasonable and ordinary care to keep their premises safe and to warn of hazards they know or should know of and which the customers are unlikely to discover. Additionally, because the plaintiff slipped on a transitory substance, she was required to prove that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of its presence and should have taken the steps necessary to remedy it.

In the subject case, the plaintiff did not allege that the defendant had actual notice of the substance or that such spills happened so frequently in the store that they were reasonably foreseeable. Thus, the court stated that she was required to demonstrate that it existed for such a length of time that, if the defendant exercised ordinary care, it would have known of the condition. The court found that the plaintiff failed to introduce evidence that was sufficient to meet this burden. Thus, it granted the defendant’s motion.

Confer with a Knowledgeable Florida Attorney

Store owners must ensure that their properties are safe for visiting customers, which includes removing any hazards that may lead to slip and fall accidents. If you suffered harm in a fall at a retail establishment, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney as soon as possible. The knowledgeable Florida premises liability lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and advise you of your potential claims. You can contact us by calling us at 800-283-7442 or using the online form to set up a conference.


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