One of the most commons types of personal injury is a slip-and-fall. A common slip-and-fall occurs when a customer falls and injures themselves due to an unsafe condition in a store or other business establishment.
When it comes to slip-and-falls in Florida, the laws have changed throughout the years; however, recently Florida passed a new slip-and-fall statute. The new statute became effective on July 1, 2010, and changes the burden placed upon the victim. Specifically, the new statute addresses whether a victim has to prove whether the business had knowledge of the unsafe condition.
Previous Slip and Fall Burden
A 2001 Florida Supreme Court case, Owens v. Publix Supermarkets, Inc, created a new standard of proof for slip-and-fall cases. Prior to Owens, the victim had to show that the business establishment had knowledge of the unsafe condition, and failed to fix it. However in Owens, the Court eliminated this requirement, and simply stated that the unsafe condition itself created the presumption that the store did not maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition.
Moreover, in response to Owens, the Florida Legislature adopted a slip-and-fall statute in 2002 that stated, “actual or constructive notice of the transitory foreign object or substance is not a required element of proof to this claim.” This statutory language was also inconsistent with the law prior to Owens.
New Increased Burden
The standard set out in Owens, and codified in statute, continued until 2010 when the Legislature passed another slip-and-fall statute expressly repealing the prior statute. The goal of the Legislature was to make the new law similar to the law pre-Owens, and currently provides that the “injured person must prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition.”
Plaintiffs must now be able to show that the business had actual or constructive knowledge of the condition. Plaintiffs can prove constructive knowledge by showing either (1) that 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 (2) that the condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable. Either way, this is an increased burden for the victim. Therefore, if you are a victim of a slip-and-fall accident, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case and to assist in navigating the complex and possibly changing slip-and-fall laws.
Questions About How Florida’s New Slip and Fall Law Could Affect Your Case?
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