What Must Florida Plaintiffs Prove In Slip-And-Fall Cases?
These incidents are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims and also the leading cause of days missed from work. But occupational slip-and-fall injuries are by no means the only problem. A fall can happen anytime and anywhere, especially to young children and older adults.
Because of their still-developing bodies, many children must undergo a number of post-fall medical procedure. Moreover, due to the nature of these injuries, most older victims cannot live independently after they recover. So, victims are often entitled to significant compensation. To obtain this compensation, an attorney must essentially prove two points.
Duty in Florida Premises Liability Cases
First, an attorney must establish the landowner’s legal responsibility. Like many other states, Florida basically uses a classification system which began in the common law. It divides victims, and legal responsibility, into three categories:
- Invitee: Most Florida victims fall into this category because they had responded to the landowner’s express invitation (“come over for dinner”) or implied invitation (an “open” sign in the business’ window). In addition to the invitation, the owner must benefit in some way because of the victim’s presence. In these situations, owners have a duty of reasonable care.
- Licensee: Usually, a license has slightly less force than an invitation. So, there is a lower duty. Owners must only warn licensees about latent (hidden) defects on the premises. A licensee is someone that has express or implied permission but does not benefit the owner. Common examples include pedestrians cutting across parking lots or guests of hotel guests.
- Trespasser: If there is no permission and no benefit, there is also no duty. The stories of injured burglars suing homeowners for damages are usually urban legends. There may be some grain of truth, however, as there are some exceptions to the trespasser rule. These exceptions include the frequent trespasser doctrine, which the Florida Legislature has largely eliminated, and the attractive nuisance rule.
The frequent trespasser rule usually applies to hunters and others whose presence is foreseeable; the attractive nuisance doctrine typically applies to children.
Knowledge in Florida Premises Liability Cases
In addition to a legal duty, the victim/plaintiff must also establish that the landowner knew about the dangerous condition or other defect. The evidence can be either direct or circumstantial.
- Actual Knowledge: Florida attorneys often uncover evidence of actual knowledge during discovery. This evidence could be something like a repair invoice, a building code violation, or a prior claim about inadequate security.
- Constructive Knowledge: Some Florida judges call this doctrine the time-notice rule. Essentially, the longer the hazard existed, the more likely it is that the landowner has notice of the problem.
Damages in a Florida slip-and-fall case usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are available as well, in some cases.
Work with Tenacious Attorneys
Slip-and-fall cases are legally complex matters. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).