A Florida law that took effect last year attempted to make it more difficult for injured shoppers to file a claim against the stores which injure them. This new law pertains to slip and fall cases only which are not to be confused with trip and fall cases. Slip and fall lawsuits and the burden of proof that goes with them are regulated by Florida Statute 768.0755:
768.0755 Premises liability for transitory foreign substances in a business establishment.—
(1) If a person slips and falls on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment, the injured person must prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it. Constructive knowledge may be proven by circumstantial evidence showing that:
(2) This section does not affect any common-law duty of care owed by a person or entity in possession or control of a business premises.
This new statute forces injured shoppers to prove that the business knew or should have known about the slippery substance in order to have a valid cause of action. This is often difficult because the injured party normally is more concerned about getting appropriate medical attention after a fall as opposed to trying to prove their case. I can safely say that I have never seen a case in which the plaintiff starts taking photos or interviewing witnesses while they are laying on the ground suffering. I can also safely say that the majority of the time, businesses are quick to respond to fall victims, clean up the mess, put up the warning signs that should have been there in the first place, and shoe the witnesses along.
While business owners feel this new law makes keeping their stores clean and free of dangerous substances fair, victim’s advocates feel it motivates business owners to pay less attention to store safety so it will be easier to take the position that they didn’t know of the dangerous substance so they couldn’t be held responsible.
Its more important now more than ever to hire an attorney experienced in premises liability and/or slip and fall lawsuits. Typically when experienced lawyers are involved, businesses offer settlements when it’s difficult to prove they took proper precautions to prevent an accident. Although there is no guarantee as businesses frequently find a variety of reasons not to pay individuals injured in their stores.
For more information, see our homepage at www.dwpersonalinjurylaw.com, or contact us at 772-600-8707