What are the Elements of a Slip and Fall Case in the State of Florida?

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slip and fallIn the State of Florida, property owners and / or management companies have  a duty to provide for the reasonable maintenance of the property and reasonable safety of visitors, patrons, and guests.   As a Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney, I am often asked the following question:

Is a store or  property owner liable for every injury that takes place on premises? The simple answer to this question is No.  Like other legal matters, the liability of a property owner for personal injuries that take place on premises will depend on the facts and circumstances of the incident.  Slip and Fall is a term that has developed over time to describe incidents that take place on the property of a grocery store, department store, mall, restaurant, and other locations.  The term generally refers to a customer who slips on a substance like water, grease, etc. . . and falls to the floor. If the incident was caused by the negligence of the property owner and / or the tenant or property management company then there may be a case or claim to pursue seeking compensation on behalf of the injury victim.

These cases are also known as premises liability cases.

There are generally four elements of a premises liability case:

1. Duty;

2. Breach of Duty;

3. Causation; and

4. Damages.

It is important to keep in mind that a key term to keep in mind with respect to premises liability or slip and fall cases is reasonableness. For example, if Walmart had an employee standing every 5 feet from each other give in the entire store, there would not be any slip and fall incidents that would likely take place. By positioning employees every 5 feet, there would be personnel in place to either clean up any spills or at least warn customers of a nearby spill or wet / slippery area. However, it is not reasonable or feasible from an economic standpoint to position an employee every 5 feet in a store as large as most Walmart stores.  Even a large corporation like Walmart could not afford the kind of staffing.  As such, staffing and maintenance of the stores, malls, and other areas are typically based on reasonableness and/or industry standards. What is the reasonable to require a store?  What would constitute reasonable maintenance?  Certainly, it would be unreasonable to have one employee for an entire store the size of Walmart.  It would also be unreasonable to have no inspections or maintenance at all during a typical work day at a department store, grocery store, restaurant, etc. . .

Elements of a Slip and Fall Case

Let’s go back to the elements of a slip and fall case. There is a duty of reasonable maintenance and inspection. Here is an example of what may be a case or claim to pursue.  An employee at a grocery store mopped an area of the store.  The floor was left wet with no signage.  Two customers almost fell in the area and reported the problem to management.  Even after the report to management, no signs were put out.  One hour later, while the floor was still slippery, another customer walked in the area, fell, and broke her arm. Assuming that these facts can be established, this would most likely be a case that would be pursued by a Jacksonville Slip and Fall Lawyer.  The four elements can be established and under this fact pattern – the store or insurance company would likely offer to settle the case.  If not, a trial may be conducted to determine the issues of liability and damages.  It should be kept mind that there are no guarantees with any case no matter the fact pattern.

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