Every day, almost 25,000 people are involved in slip and fall accidents. The personal injuries that result from slip and fall accidents cost over $3.5 million each hour or $30 billion each year. The majority of these personal injury accidents occur at one of three places: (1) workplaces, (2) restaurants, and (3) grocery stores.
In workplaces, 95 million workdays are lost each year to slip and fall accidents, comprising approximately 65% of lost workdays overall. In fact, 22% of these workplace accidents led to injured employees taking over 31 days off of work.
The food service industry sees the most slip and fall accidents. The #1 cause of injury for food service workers is slip and fall accidents. Over half of lawsuits involving restaurants involve slip and falls. Each restaurant sees an average of 3-9 slip and fall accidents each year.
Grocery stores pour over $450 million each year into defending against slip and fall suits, and slip and fall accidents account for the majority of employee and customer injury. In fact, 60% of complaints involving grocery stores involve a slip and fall accident.
If you have suffered a personal injury from a slip and fall accident, you surely want to seek a consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Fort Lauderdale. However, it is important to know and understand the slip and fall statute in Florida when seeking compensation for a personal injury.
Premises Liability in Florida
The 2013 Florida Statutes’ Chapter 768 on Negligence governs slip and fall accidents in a section titled: “Premises liability for transitory foreign substances in a business establishment.” While that sounds like confusing legal mumbo jumbo, it can be boiled down to “when a business is responsible for a substance on the floor that causes an injury.”
According to the law, a person who slips and falls in a business must prove several elements. First, the person must prove the business had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition. Actual knowledge means that a business employee saw the substance on the floor and was actually aware of it. Actual knowledge exists when an employee says something like, “I just spilled hot soup on the floor.”
However, sometimes, when you’re minding your business, you really have no idea what the employees of the business know. That’s when you try to prove knowledge through constructive knowledge. Constructive knowledge can be proved by showing either (1) the substance was on the floor for so long that a business should have known about it or (2) the substance is regularly on the floor and it was therefore foreseeable to the business. The first can be met by showing length of time the substance was on the floor. For instance, if you are at a restaurant and a spill of hot soup occurs when you first arrive at 7:30pm, then you later slip on it at 9:00pm, you would argue that a whole hour and a half had passed and that the restaurant should have known about the spill in the seating area. The second can be met by showing how regular and usual it was for the substance to be on the floor. For example, the ground of the business is regularly covered in condensation in the morning due to humidity.
Once you establish knowledge, you must also prove that the business should have taken action to fix the problem, such as mopping the floor, warning patrons, or blocking off the area. This element is fairly easy to prove as businesses are required to keep buildings safe for patrons. However, you may run into some issues proving this element if there is a question as to whether it was that specific business’s responsibility to fix the problem. For example, if the upstairs business’s pipes burst, would it be the downstairs business’s responsibility to mop up the mess?
While it is always useful to know the law, it can get tricky and convoluted at times, which is why trained slip and fall lawyers exist! If you or a loved one was injured in a slip and fall accident, please call Cohn & Smith, Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers, to discuss your options.