Can I make a claim against a store if I fall on their floor?

Whether or not a person can make a claim against a business establishment property owner for injuries sustained as the result of a slip and fall depends directly upon whether the property owner was negligent in maintaining a safe premise. The injured party has the burden of proving that there was a dangerous or hazardous condition existing on the premises, the property owner knew, or should have known, with reasonable inspection, that the condition existed and did nothing to keep the public at large safe from that condition. The question that arises is the criteria which business establishments are judged by in determining if they have made reasonable efforts in keeping their premises safe.

The Florida legislature answered that question when it enacted Florida Statutes 768.0755 “Premises liability for transitory foreign substances in a business establishment.” The statute holds that “If a person slips and falls on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment, the injured person must prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it.”

Actual knowledge, obviously, is less difficult to prove. If a stack of soup cans collapsed onto a grocery store floor spilling cans all over the floor, and could be openly seen by all who are shopping, it would be difficult for a property owner to claim they did not have knowledge of the dangerous condition if someone was to trip on one of the cans. Constructive knowledge of dangerous conditions may not be that clear.

The statute allows for circumstantial evidence to show that the dangerous condition existed to establish constructive knowledge. Showing that the 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 the condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable would serve as such circumstantial knowledge. The primary factors in focus would be notice and time. If a customer in a paint store knocked a gallon of paint off a shelf in the back of the store, where no clerks were present, causing it to open and spill onto the floor and another customer slipped in the wet paint fifteen (15) seconds later the business could probably not be found liable for injuries to the second customer. If the same can of paint fell off the counter at the check-out register and remained on the floor for a minute, the business’ potential liability would be much different.

If you are injured from a slip and fall as the result of a dangerous condition while you are in a business establishment or another’s property, you may have a claim for that injury under Florida law. You should seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney right away. The Law Office of Dan Newlin & Partners  has the experience, knowledge and resources to help if you find yourself injured as the result of a fall on another’s property. Help is just a phone call away. Please call us at (407) 888-8000 and have an attorney give you the answers you need to all of your questions about slip and fall accidents. Do not go it alone, get advice from an experienced attorney. You will be glad you did.