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Slip and Fall Case Fails Because Woman Did Not Know How Long Dangerous Condition Existed

In a recently decided case, a plaintiff sued a grocery store for injuries after she slipped and fell on a piece of watermelon at the store. A store employee had been handing out watermelon samples close to where the woman had slipped. The woman alleged that the grocery store was negligent because the floor was wet from the watermelon samples and posed a danger to customers. She claimed that the store either knew or should have known about the danger because offering watermelon samples in a busy section of the store created a danger in and of itself. But the plaintiff did not have evidence as to how long the piece of watermelon had been on the floor before she slipped on it.

Watermelon SlicesThe court found that the case failed because of the woman’s lack of knowledge as to the length of time the watermelon had been on the floor. The woman had to show that the danger posed was due to the store’s negligent conduct. The court explained that normally a plaintiff must demonstrate a store was negligent either because it knew that the danger existed or because it should have known about the danger but failed to do anything about it.

The court found that the woman could not do that in this case because there was no evidence that the store knew a piece of watermelon had dropped on the ground, or that it should have known it was there due to the length of time it had been on the floor. In addition, while the woman argued that the court should have found that the business’ decision to pass out watermelon by itself created a danger, the court rejected the argument. As a result, since she had no evidence as to the length of time the dangerous condition that caused her to fall existed, her case failed.

Premises Liability Law in Florida

In Florida, those who own or occupy land can be held liable for the injuries of others that occur on their premises. The liability of the occupier or owner depends on the specifics of each case. These specifics include the relationship between the plaintiff and defendant, why the plaintiff was on the premises, and the cause of the injury. Normally, plaintiffs are divided into different categories, depending on why the plaintiff was on the defendant’s land. Depending on the plaintiff’s status, there are varying degrees of care a defendant will owe. Some common examples of premises liability cases are uneven floors, inadequate lighting, and broken stairs.

Generally, in slip and fall cases, an individual must show that the owner or its employees knew or should have known about the dangerous condition. In the past, under Florida law, a defendant could have been held liable for a condition if the defendant’s way of operating the business created a dangerous condition, as the woman argued in the case above. However, now an individual generally must show that the defendant knew about the condition, or at least should have known about its existence. This can be shown by demonstrating that a condition was present and that the store should have known about it or warned customers of its presence.

Have You Been Injured?

If you have been injured while you were on someone else’s land, you may be able to recover compensation from the landowner or occupier. Many accidents occur because property owners fail to maintain their premises in a safe condition. At Cohn & Smith, our skilled Pembroke Pines premises liability lawyers can pursue a claim against a negligent property owner anywhere in South Florida. We vigorously advocate for each client with the attention and tenacity they deserve. To learn more about your rights, call us at 954-431-8100 or contact us online.

Related Blog Posts:

Insurance Company’s Failure to Settle Case in a Timely Manner Results in Large Plaintiff’s Verdict, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, August 17, 2016.

Court Interprets Insurance Policy as “Per Accident” Rather Than “Per Insured Vehicle,” Limiting Company’s Liability, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, September 6, 2016.

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