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Florida Supreme Court Holds Law Firm Liable for Injuries when Client’s Chair Collapsed

chairPremises liability issues can arise in a variety of ways. Whether it’s through a slip and fall or an elevator malfunction, property owners have a legal obligation to keep their premises in reasonably safe conditions for visitors. An injured victim can typically sue a property owner for damages based on premises liability if the plaintiff can establish that the injuries were caused by the landowner’s negligence. Premises liability law is complex, which is why it is important to seek the help of a qualified attorney who understands the nuances of this area of the law.

In Friedrich v. Fetterman & Assocs, the Florida Supreme Court held that a law firm was liable for injuries incurred by the plaintiff when the chair he was sitting on suddenly collapsed. The plaintiff was a potential client visiting the law firm’s office for a consultation regarding an automobile accident he had recently gotten into. When the chair collapsed, the plaintiff fell backwards onto the floor, hitting his head. After the incident, the plaintiff voiced concerns of persistent headaches, neck and back pain, and a host of other problems. Eventually, he went through spine surgery, which he claimed improved his overall condition.

The plaintiff sued the law firm for his injuries under the theory of negligence. Negligence is the failure to take reasonable care in doing something that results in harm or injury to another. Reasonable care is defined as how a prudent or sensible person would behave in the same or similar circumstances. Here, the plaintiff argued that the law firm had a duty to warn him of the chair’s “dangerous condition.” The plaintiff’s expert testified that the firm should have inspected the chair every six months to ensure it was safe. In response to the plaintiff’s expert, the defense presented an expert who claimed that no test could have predicted this particular chair’s defect. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and ordered the law firm to pay all related damages.

On appeal, the court set aside the lower court’s verdict, stating that the evidence did not sufficiently establish that the firm’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injury. The Florida Supreme Court reversed the appeals court decision, holding that the appeals judges exceeded their their authority by re-weighing causation evidence that was presented at trial as opposed to simply reviewing the trial court’s decision for legal error. The Supreme Court noted that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to reach the verdict that the law firm’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

If you or someone close to you has been injured in a premises liability accident, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries. Robert Dixon is a highly skilled Miami premises liability attorney who has helped numerous clients recover damages in their claims. Our firm will work diligently to assess the merits of your case and come with a strategy suited to your specific situation. You can expect the utmost respect and professionalism from our entire team. To learn more, contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) for a free, confidential consultation.

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