The Burden of Proof in Florida Slip and Fall Lawsuits

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.

The case stemmed from injuries the plaintiff suffered when she was cleaning her car in the car cleaning area of her apartment complex. The woman sustained injuries after she stepped out of her car to reach for a vacuum. She filed a negligence lawsuit against the apartment complex, arguing that she slipped on a foreign substance. However, during depositions, she conceded that she did not know what caused her to fall backward or caused her foot to slip. The defendants moved for summary judgment based on her failure to present any evidence of a dangerous condition. The appellate court found in favor of the defendant, reasoning that proof of a fall without more does not create liability on the part of the defendant.

This case exemplifies the importance of plaintiffs meeting their evidentiary burden. Florida slip and fall victims can survive a motion for summary judgment by appropriately gathering and presenting relevant evidence. The two most compelling forms of evidence are witness accounts in the form of affidavits and documentary evidence. Witnesses should provide a detailed written statement signed by a notary public describing what they know about the accident. Moreover, documentary evidence such as medical records, video footage, and business records are useful in contesting a defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Slip and Fall?

If you or someone you know suffered serious injuries in a Florida slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your damages. The reputable and distinguished attorneys a the Law Offices of Robert Dixon have extensive experience handling Florida accident cases. Our attorneys understand the importance of keeping up-to-date with the relevant statutes and trends in case law affecting personal injury lawsuits. We use our skills and knowledge to provide our clients with personalized, effective case strategies. Contact our office at 877-499-4878 to schedule a free consultation with an accident attorney at our law firm.

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