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Florida Court Discusses Constructive Notice in Slip and Fall Cases

Warehouse stores offer shoppers the convenience of being able to purchase a wide variety of goods in one place. While the vastness of such retail establishments allows them to provide customers with one-stop shopping, it can also make it difficult for people working in the store to remedy potentially harmful situations, like spills, when they occur. As such, it is not uncommon for people to encounter slippery conditions in stores and fall and sustain injuries. Whether a store will be liable for harm suffered in a slip and fall accident largely depends on whether it knew or should have known of the presence of a transitory condition that caused the fall, as explained in a recent Florida opinion. If you suffered harm in a slip and fall accident, you could be owed damages, and you should meet with a Florida personal injury lawyer to discuss your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Fall

It is reported that the plaintiff was shopping in the defendant’s warehouse store when he slipped and fell in a puddle in the freezer aisle. He stated he did not know how long the liquid had been on the floor, but after he fell, he noticed water leaking from the ceiling above the area where the fall occurred. He sustained back injuries in the fall and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging its negligence led to his harm. The defendant moved for dismissal via summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff could not establish it had constructive notice of the leak as required to impose liability under Florida law.

Establishing Constructive Notice in Florida Slip and Fall Cases

The court ultimately denied the defendant’s motion. The court explained that a reasonable jury could find that the defendant had constructive notice of the water on the floor, and therefore, summary judgment was improper. In Florida, a person who falls on a transitory foreign substance on the floor of a business must establish that the business either knew or should have known of the dangerous condition and taken measures to fix it. Generally, a transitory substance is any solid or liquid substance or item that is in a place where it does not belong.

In the subject case, the plaintiff was proceeding under the theory that the defendant had constructive notice of the leak, which is to say it should have been aware of its presence and taken measures to fix it. The court explained that constructive knowledge could be established via circumstantial evidence showing either that the condition existed for so long the defendant should have known of it or that the condition was one that occurred regularly and therefore was foreseeable. The court found that there was sufficient evidence that the leak existed for an extended period of time, and therefore, the defendant should have been aware of it. Thus, it denied the defendant’s motion.

Speak to a Seasoned Florida Attorney

Slip and fall accidents can cause fractures, sprains, strains, and torn ligaments and tendons, but proving a store should be held accountable for the harm sustained in a fall can be challenging. If you were hurt in a slip and fall accident, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney regarding your rights. The attorneys at Cardoso Law, PLLC are adept at helping people harmed by the negligence of others seek redress for their losses, and if you engage their services, they will zealously pursue any compensation you may be owed. You can contact the Firm via the form online or at (850) 466-2073 to set up a consultation.

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