When a defendant is sued, that defendant may raise an affirmative defense. Affirmative defenses are a type of defense in which a defendant presents additional facts to defeat the charges being brought. Just as the plaintiff must meet the burden of proof when bringing a claim, similarly, the defendant must meet a certain burden of proof to establish his or her affirmative defense.
In Bongiorno v. Americorp, the plaintiff slipped and fell on a slippery floor in the bathroom of her workplace. The plaintiff sustained injuries. She was wearing high heels at the time of the incident. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the property owner, alleging negligence. The defendant filed an answer denying liability and asserting the affirmative defense of comparative negligence. The matter proceeded to a bench trial. After reviewing the evidence, the trial court determined that the plaintiff was 50 percent comparatively negligent due to the fact that she wore four- to five-inch high-heeled shoes at the time of the accident.
The state of Florida operates under a comparative negligence system. This means that whatever amount an individual is negligent, that individual’s recovery will be limited by that amount. For example, if a plaintiff is deemed to be 40 percent negligent, that plaintiff’s maximum amount of recovery will be 60 percent. In other words, the plaintiff’s total award would be decreased by his or her fault. In this manner, the principle of comparative negligence apportions negligence among the various parties involved in the incident.
The appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision. The court determined that the issue at hand was whether the plaintiff’s decision to wear high heels created a foreseeable zone of risk. A foreseeable zone of risk denotes that a reasonable individual could foresee or expect a certain result of his or her choice. Here, the property owner could not demonstrate that the plaintiff, by opting to wear high heels, could have foreseen that she would have slipped and sustained an injury. The court ultimately ruled that the property owner failed to meet its burden that by wearing high heels, the plaintiff created a foreseeable zone of risk. Thus, the property owner was deemed to be 100 percent at fault and responsible for all the damages.
This case highlights the fact that a determination of whether a duty exists depends on the facts of the case and an evaluation of whether there was a foreseeability of harm under the circumstances. The reasonably prudent person standard is used when making this type of determination.
Slip and fall cases are complicated, which is why having a qualified Miami accident lawyer on your side can make all the difference in your case. There are many factors that go into figuring out liability in premises liability cases. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our team is well versed in virtually all aspects of personal injury law. We have helped many South Florida clients and can help you too. To learn more about your options, contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878).
More Blog Posts:
The “Foreign Body” Instruction in Florida Medical Negligence Cases, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, April 15, 2015
Parasailing Accidents in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, April 15, 2015
Duty of Care Owed to Trespassers in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, April 15, 2015