Slip And Fall Liability Requires Element Of Time

Personal Injury

In the case of Blanca De Cardenas Velazco v. President Supermarket No. 23, Inc., etc., Case Number 3D18-1115 (Fla. 3rd DCA July 10, 2019), Florida’s Third DCA issued a per curiam opinion reminding the parties that a slip and fall accident at a store requires some proof that a slippery substance must have been on the floor long enough to create legal responsibility.

“Foreign Transitory Substance” Law In Florida

In Florida, liability for a slip and fall injury due to a “foreign transitory substance” (see section 768.0755, Fla. Stat.) requires that:

(a) The dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have known of the condition; or

(b) The condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.

Whatever caused Ms. Velazco to fall, there must not have been evidence at trial of how long the substance might have been on the floor to prompt this opinion from the Third DCA.

Oily, Dirty, and Dark Alone Is Not Enough

Regardless of how it may have happened, the Third DCA makes it a point to remind us that “oily, dirty, and dark” (even if true) is not enough by themselves to prove liability for a slip and fall injury (citing Encarnacion v. Lifemark Hosps. of Fla., 211 So 3d 275 (Fla. 3d 2017)).

Instead, to win a slip and fall case in Florida, the plaintiff is required to show that whatever “foreign” substance was on the floor either existed long enough to where an employee should have noticed it or that the substance on the floor was present with such frequency that it would be foreseeable that is would be expected.

In other words, you can’t win unless you can prove (with hindsight) that time is involved (remember too that the jury has to find that such passage of time was unreasonable as well).

This just goes to show you how tough slip and fall cases have become in Florida.

Get Help With Your Florida Slip and Fall Case

Many people are often critical of anyone who slips and falls. Whether there is legal liability or not in Florida for a slip and fall comes down to whether the jury has sympathy for the person who fell because the law is a bit of a quandary.

Section 768.0755 was passed to make it more difficult for a slip and fall plaintiff to bring a case. Unfortunately, it very clearly does so.

In many cases, the person who slipped and fell has no idea how long the “foreign” substance was on the floor. Likewise, many slip and fall cases involve “circumstantial evidence” at best and a degree of hindsight bias.

This is why you should have a lawyer help you determine whether your case has merit from the very beginning. Hiring a personal injury attorney is an opportunity to find out whether your case has a reasonable likelihood of success.

This is where we come in. Schedule a free consultation with a Lakeland personal injury lawyer to discuss whether your slip and fall accident is worthy to pursue. If your case has legal merit, we will accept your case on a contingency fee (no fees or costs unless money is recovered for you).

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July 10, 2019