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.
In this case, the plaintiff slipped on a grape in a grocery store aisle. The plaintiff’s claim was based on the fact that the grape was present on the floor for such a period of time that the store should have taken notice. However, the store presented an employee whose job it was to make sure that the store was free of hazards. The employee testified that he passed by the area where the plaintiff fell four different times in the half-hour before the plaintiff’s fall. That employee explained that he walked down the aisle and did not notice a grape, and that if he had, he would have cleaned it up.
The court granted the store’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the evidence failed to show that the grape was present for long enough to impute constructive knowledge to the store. Thus, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed. While there is no definite amount of time that a hazard must be present to find constructive knowledge, the court determined that evidence here failed to meet that threshold.
Contact a Florida Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer
If you have recently slipped and fallen while in a grocery store, shopping mall, or any other business, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The Florida premises liability lawyers at the Law Offices of Robert Dixon have the skill and experience needed to bring claims against all types of businesses. To learn more about how we can help you with your case, call 877-499-4878 to schedule a free consultation today.