Slip and Fall and Premises Liability LawyerThe Ledezma Law Firm has an office in Fort Lauderdale Beach and we have help out injured individuals in premises liability cases for many years. Fort Lauderdale and Miami are heavily populated cities with many types of businesses. Owners of businesses and residential properties have an obligation to maintain their properties in a safe condition and warn of any dangerous condition to individuals on their property. In Florida, the law categorizes individuals based on their status on the property.

The following are the statuses a person may have on a property. 

  • Business Invitee
  • Permittee
  • Discovered Trespasser
  • Undiscovered Trespasser

Business Invitees

An owner of a business owes the highest duty of care to individuals that enter their business. These individuals are called business invitees. Owners must maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition and warn invitees of any dangerous condition existing on the premises. A business invitee is entitled to expect that the proprietor will take reasonable care to discover the actual condition of the premises and either make them safe or warn the invitee of dangerous conditions. However, it is equally well settled that the proprietor has a right to assume that the invitee will perceive that which would be obvious to him upon the ordinary use of his own senses. 

Dangerous conditions can be one of the following. 

 

  • Construction defect
  • Violation of Building Code:
  • Uneven floor:  
  • Transitory substance on the floor

Permittee

This type of invitee is an individual permitted on the premises for a reason other than for business purposes. 

Trespasser

Under Florida Statute 768.075, a Florida homeowner or property owner cannot be held liable for any injuries or deaths sustained on their property by a trespasser IF the trespasser was under the influence of alcohol or some other mind-altering substance. However, a homeowner or property owner can be held liable for injuries to trespassers if the homeowner or property owner committed gross negligence or intentional misconduct towards the trespasser.

Furthermore, a property owner may be held liable for injuries to a trespasser in the following instances, and regardless of whether or not the trespasser was intoxicated:

  • The trespasser had reason to believe that they were invited onto the premises, and that they were otherwise welcome to the property where the injury occurred;
  • The trespasser was a “discovered trespasser,” meaning that the property owners knew of the trespassers existence and presence on the property at least 24 hours before the injury occurred, and did not remove any hazards or provide adequate warning to the trespasser of any dangers; or
  • The trespasser was an “undiscovered trespasser,” meaning that the property owners did not know of their presence on the premises prior to injury but acted in an unlawful way towards the trespasser upon their discovery.

Transitory Substance on the Floor

Pursuant to Florida Statutes §768.0755, a plaintiff in a slip-and-fall case must show that the business had actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition created by a transitory foreign substance that caused the plaintiff to slip and fall.

Section 768.0755 provides:

(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:

  (a) The dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have known of the condition; or

(b) The condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.

Evidence of the mere presence of a transitory foreign substance on the floor, without more, is insufficient to create a jury question on actual or constructive knowledge. Constructive notice may be inferred from either: (1) the amount of time a substance has been on the floor; or (2) the fact that the condition occurred with such frequency that the owner should have known of its existence. 

Defendants typically will file a motion for summary judgment that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to constructive or actual notice IF there is no evidence other than the mere presence of the transitory substance. 

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Open and Obvious Defense

The law consistently recognizes that the fact that a danger is open and obvious may operate to discharge a landowner’s duty to warn, but it does not discharge the duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition.

When an injured party alleges that the owner or possessor breached the duty to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition, an issue of fact is generally raised as to whether the condition was dangerous and whether the owner or possessor should have anticipated that the dangerous condition would cause injury despite the fact it was open and obvious.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The U.S. Government has enacted multiple laws designed to protect citizens from sustaining needless injuries. One such law is the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, all floors and stairs located in buildings that are open to the public must be safe, stable and slip resistant. When floors are wet or otherwise compromised, signs must be clearly posted to alert people of the danger. Code violations have been deemed enough evidence for breach of a duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition—meeting “the minimal threshold for the jury to consider a plaintiff’s negligence claim.”

Violations

Typical violations of the ADA include:

  • Torn carpet
  • Loose floor boards
  • Unstable stairs or flooring
  • Missing or damaged handrails on staircases
  • Naturally slick surfaces
  • Improperly labeled wet or slippery floors
  • Uneven surfaces
  • Poor lighting

If a building violates the terms of the ADA and you slip and fall, the building’s owners, maintenance team and/or management company may be responsible for any injuries you sustain. However, to obtain the money you deserve after a slip and fall accident, you must file a lawsuit and prove that your accident was a direct result of the responsible party’s actions or failure to act.

If you are able to prove in court that the state of the floor caused you to fall, you may be entitled to medical care and wage reimbursement, as well as punitive damages, depending on the severity of your injuries and the degree of the responsible party’s negligence. If your case goes to court, you will most likely face a jury trial. The court will consider the severity of your injuries, the amount of money you have spent in medical care, the amount of wages you have lost and any future implications of your injuries when determining your settlement. Some cases may settle out of court.

Don’t wait to get us on your side. You need someone who will get involved right away and represent you every step of the way. To learn more or discuss your case, get a free consultation with a lawyer at the Ledezma Law Firm by calling or emailing attorney Renier Ledezma at rledezma@ledezmalawfirm.com.

REQUEST A FREE CONSULTATION

We’ll provide a free investigation into the details of your case and the options you may have available.