Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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Recently, a Florida appellate court issued an opinion in a plaintiff’s appeal stemming from a premises liability lawsuit. The case arose after a customer spilled laundry detergent near a checkout counter at a Dollar General. A store manager and employee were working at the register when the spill occurred. The manager went to get cleaning supplies and left the employee to assist customers in checking out. About a minute later, the plaintiff entered the store and slipped on the detergent, sustaining serious injuries.

The plaintiff argued that the defendant was negligent because they did not safely maintain their premises or warn him of potential hazards. The defendant moved for summary judgment claiming that it did not breach its duty because there was not enough time between the spill and fall to remedy the hazard.

Under Florida law, courts reviewing summary judgment motions must draw all inferences in favor of the plaintiff against whom the order is sought. Courts can only grant these motions when there are no disputes regarding any genuine issues of material fact. In instances where a defendant moves for summary judgment, the defendant must show that it did not breach any duty to the plaintiff. In Florida, business owners owe a duty to maintain their premises in a safe condition and warn customers of any dangers it knew about, or should have known about.

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Last month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Florida slip and fall case involving a woman who fell while at a grocery store. The case required the court to determine if the woman presented sufficient evidence to show that the store had constructive knowledge of the hazard that caused her fall. Ultimately, the court found that the plaintiff could not succeed in her claim because the evidence did not suggest that the danger was present for a sufficient period of time to impute constructive knowledge of the hazard to the store.

Florida slip and fall cases are based on the legal theory of negligence. Thus, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant knew or should have known about the hazard. If a defendant is entirely unaware of a hazard, courts will generally not find that the defendant was negligent in failing to address the risk. There are two ways to prove a defendant’s knowledge of the hazard. The first is by showing that the defendant had actual knowledge of the hazard. This may be demonstrated by submitting a previous customer complaint about a hazard.

Constructive knowledge is the other way that a plaintiff can prove the defendant knew about the dangerous condition that caused their fall. Constructive knowledge is essentially a legal fiction that, when present, imputes knowledge of a hazard to a defendant. In Florida, there are two ways to establish constructive knowledge, 1.) by showing the amount of time that the hazard was present or, 2.) by showing that the dangerous condition occurred so often that the defendant should have known of its existence.

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According to a recent news report, after increasing pressure from residents, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis released a seven-page list of the names of over 300 nursing homes where patients or staff tested positive for COVID-19 (the coronavirus). These nursing homes and long-term care facilities serve a diverse patient base, and provide various types of acute, rehabilitative, and convalescent care. Despite good intentions, many of these nursing homes fail to provide their patients with an appropriate level of care. In some cases, this deficient care amounts to nursing home abuse and neglect, and victims and their families may be able to hold the facility liable for their damages.

According to recent statistics, as many as 5,000,000 individuals suffer abuse or neglect at these facilities every year, and evidence suggests that 1 in 10 of these victims are over 60 years old. Abuse and neglect manifest in many different ways, and it is not always apparent to loved ones. It may take the form of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Further, many patients suffer neglect when the facility fails to provide the patient with appropriate care or prevent the spread of disease or infection. Many facilities are facing a heightened level of scrutiny after facilities began to face outbreaks of COVID-19.

Understandably, many families whose loved ones receive care at these facilities began to demand the release of names of facilities with positive cases. Residents and loved ones requested the list of names so that they could make informed decisions about how to proceed with the care of their family members. Before this request, the facilities only needed to provide residents, staff, and family members when there was a positive result. However, the list did not include any context regarding what the actual outcome of the positive result was.

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The Florida District Court of Appeals recently released an opinion addressing whether a property owner breached its non-delegable statutory duty to a person injured on a boat dock. The case arose after a woman suffered injuries on a boat dock outside of her friends’ beach club condominium. The woman filed a lawsuit against the beach club, her friends, and the construction company that was in charge of repairing the dock. She contended that the beach club was liable for breaching its duty to maintain the dock, the construction was responsible for failing to repair the dock, and her friends should have warned her of any hazardous conditions.

In response, the beach club argued the affirmative defense of comparative negligence, alleging that third parties caused the woman’s injuries. However, the plaintiff argued that the beach club was jointly and severally liable for all of her damages, and the defense was inappropriate because the club did not identify the other parties’ negligence.

Florida premises liability law states that property owners must use reasonable care in maintaining their property, and they must warn invitees of concealed or latent dangers that are unknown to the invitee. Moreover, Florida’s Condominium Act provides that condo associations must maintain their common areas in a reasonably safe condition. In this case, the contract between the condo association and owners imposed an additional non-delegable duty, which required the beach club to maintain the dock and other communal areas.

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Florida personal injury laws require accident victims to meet strict evidentiary requirements to pursue damages for their injuries. If an accident victim fails to comply with the ever-changing and rigid laws, they risk the dismissal of their case. Florida accident victims must understand the responsibilities and burden of proof that the law imposes. This understanding is especially pertinent in Florida slip and fall cases.

In response to the growing rate of fraudulent personal injury claims, the Florida legislature enacted Florida Statute section 768.0755. This statute shifted the burden of proof from the defendant to the plaintiff. Before this statute, the law required business owners to prove that they were not responsible for the slip and fall. However, now victims must establish that the business had actual or constructive notice of the hazardous condition on their property. Business owners do not need to prove anything or present evidence until the plaintiff meets their burden.

Defendants will often try and discredit a plaintiff’s case during settlement negotiations or through a motion for summary judgment during pretrial proceedings. A motion for summary judgment essentially asks the court to dismiss the claim based on the plaintiff’s failure to present a triable issue. For example, in a recent opinion, a state appellate court reversed a trial court’s denial of a defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a slip and fall case.

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The judge plays several roles in a Florida personal injury trial. Among a judge’s most important job is to determine which evidence the jury is permitted to consider in coming to its decision. When preparing for trial, parties gather all the evidence they hope to use to support their case. However, not all evidence is admissible for every purpose. Some evidence is categorically prohibited, and other evidence is admissible for limited purposes. The judge decides what evidence the jury will be able to consider, and for what purposes. In making these decisions, judges must follow the Florida Rules of Evidence.

In a recent Florida slip and fall case, the court had occasion to discuss what is called the “best evidence rule.” Under Florida Statutes section 90.954, “except as otherwise provided by statute, an original writing, recording, or photograph is required in order to prove the contents of the writing, recording, or photograph.” Thus, under the rule, if the evidence is a writing, recording, or photograph, only the original source of that evidence can be submitted. In the case mentioned above, the evidence at issue was video surveillance tape from the grocery store where the plaintiff slipped and fell.

Under the best evidence rule, the original source of the evidence is required unless:

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Serious slip and fall injuries can take months to recover from and, in some cases, a full recovery may not even be possible. In the event that you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, is it vital to reach out to a seasoned Miami injury attorney as soon as possible. The question of fault in these cases can be confusing but, with years of experience, you can trust that we know how to handle even the most complicated Florida personal injury claims.

In a recent case, a Florida appeals court recently issued an opinion in a personal injury claim deciding whether the lower court properly permitted the plaintiff to leave to amend her claim to pursue punitive damages from the defendant. Eventually, the court held that it did not have the power to examine the lower court’s decision.

The facts of the case are as follows. In 2011, a minor child was injured when she fell from an amusement ride known as the “Psycho Swing”at a park in Hollywood. The parents of the child sued those who manufactured, owned and operated the ride for strict negligence. In such cases, the defendant is liable for harm even though he or she did not intend to cause the harm and did not cause it by being reckless or negligent. Among other defendants named in the lawsuit, the company that owned and rented out the swing was named.

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In a recent appellate opinion, the court reversed a trial court’s ruling in a Florida personal injury lawsuit filed by a tenant against her landlord. The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit after she fell while walking on a pathway to her condominium. The plaintiff based her claim on the landlord’s failure to warn of the known danger and maintain the premises in a safe condition. The plaintiff argued that although she too was aware of the dangerous condition, she had notified the landlord on several occasions and offered to fix the pathway herself.

Evidently, the landlord did not repair the broken path and did not allow the plaintiff to do so. The landlord moved for summary judgment, arguing that it was not liable because the woman knew the fractured pathway, the danger was open and obvious, and she assumed the risk by not avoiding the path when she knew it to be damaged. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that there were genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the damaged pathway was open and obvious, along with the landlord’s failure to maintain the premises.

Under Florida law, landowners or occupiers owe invitees two separate duties. First, the landowner or occupier must maintain the property, ensuring that the premises are reasonably safe. Second, property owners must warn guests of any concealed dangers. Landowners may avoid liability if they establish that the dangerous condition was “open and obvious.” In these cases, a landowner will not be liable for injuries if the guest knew of the hazardous condition. However, Florida slip and fall victims can recover damages for their injuries based on a landowner’s failure to maintain their premises.

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A Florida appellate court recently issued a ruling in favor of a plaintiff in her premises liability lawsuit against the Orange County Public Library System (the “Library”). The plaintiff filed strict liability and negligence claims against the Library after she suffered injuries when a bottom drawer of a copier unexpectedly popped out and caused her to trip. The plaintiff claimed that the Library was strictly liable based on their ownership of the defective copier. She also claimed the Library was negligent under premises liability. She filed an appeal after the trial court dismissed her claims based on her failure to state a cause of action. The appellate court addressed Florida’s pleading requirements in negligence lawsuits and concluded that the plaintiff met the state’s requirements, allowing her case to proceed towards trial.

When a Florida slip and fall victim files a premises liability lawsuit against a business owner, the plaintiff must provide the factual basis of their claim in their complaint. There are two pleading systems in the United States, fact and notice. While federal claims follow the notice pleading system, Florida state claims require fact pleadings. A plaintiff’s complaint must comply with the state’s fact-pleading requirement and include a “short and plain” statement of the facts that show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief.

In Florida negligence lawsuits, the complaint must allege:

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Slip and fall accidents can lead to devastating, life-changing consequences for a person. In the most serious cases, these accidents can be fatal. When a slip and fall accident takes place on another’s property, you could potentially obtain compensation for things like medical bills and lost income that are a direct result of the accident. Our Miami premises liability attorneys will meticulously look into what happened in your case and fervently advocate for your rights.

In a recent opinion, a plaintiff lived in a condominium for almost ten years. During that whole time, she knew about a specific crack in the sidewalk and watched it continue to worsen. In fact, she had traversed the area many times without incident – never taking special care to avoid it. While she told the landlord that the area needed to be repaired, no repairs were made. Then one day, the plaintiff fell on the fractured concrete. She sued the landlord for injuries, alleging failure to warn and a failure to maintain the premises.

The landlord filed a motion for summary judgment saying that the condition was open and obvious. They used the plaintiff’s own testimony indicating that she knew about the condition and she also knew that there were other paths she could have used. The trial court granted the landlord’s motion based on the plaintiff’s undeniable awareness of the sidewalk’s condition, its open and obvious nature, and her assumption of risk.

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