Florida’s Wet Floor Laws: A Guide to Slip and Fall Cases and Premise Liability
Slip and fall accidents in Florida can lead to serious injuries with complex legal implications. To protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve, it’s crucial to understand the wet floor rules, and liability factors that can impact your case. In this article, we will explore what Florida’s wet floor laws are, and provide you with essential information on premise liability and duty of care, common causes of wet floors, proving negligence and compensation categories. Finally, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions we get from our clients.
What Are The Legal Duties of Property Owners in Florida?
According to Florida law, slip and fall cases fall under the category of premise liability. This is a legal term that refers to the duty of property owners to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition and to warn visitors of any known or foreseeable hazards. This duty applies to both public and private properties, such as stores, restaurants, hotels, offices, apartments, and homes. Property owners can be held liable for injuries that occur on their premises if they breach this duty by failing to fix, remove, or warn about a dangerous condition.
Common Causes of Wet Floors
Wet floors can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
Spilled liquids: spilled liquids can create a hazard for visitors, especially in high-traffic areas like restaurants and grocery stores.
Leaks: leaks from pipes or roofs can cause water to accumulate on floors, creating a slip and fall hazard.
Weather conditions: rain, snow, and ice can create wet floors in outdoor areas, such as parking lots and sidewalks.
Mopping: improperly mopped floors can leave behind wet spots that can cause slip and fall accidents.
It is the responsibility of property owners and managers to promptly address any wet floor hazards to prevent slip and fall accidents.
Proving Premise Liability and Slip & Fall Negligence Due To Wet Floors
While property owners are responsible for upholding a safe environment, they aren’t necessarily at fault for accidents and injuries that occur on the premises. Rather, the injured person must prove that the property owner did not take reasonable steps to prevent or correct the hazard that ultimately caused the incident. This is achieved by establishing evidence of actual, or constructive knowledge.
1. Actual Knowledge. If a business fails to correct a hazard within a reasonable time after either being alerted to it, or creating it themselves, they would be said to possess actual knowledge of the danger. In this case, You would have to show evidence that an employee was aware of a spill, and that they had sufficient time to place a wet floor sign, and clean the area before the accident occurred.
2. Constructive Knowledge. In some cases, an employee may not be made directly aware of a spill, but could still be expected to have knowledge of it. This is the basis for constructive knowledge, and includes circumstances such as:
Foreseeable spills: the occurrence of these are predictable, such as ones that often happen in a particular area.
Discoverable spills: spills that should be found by employees while performing their regular duties, but instead go undiscovered for an unreasonable amount of time.
Types of Damages Available in Wet Floor Cases
If a plaintiff is successful in proving premise liability and slip and fall negligence, they may be entitled to a range of damages, including:
Medical expenses, which includes the cost of treatment for injuries sustained.
Lost wages, which is compensation due to being unable to work.
Pain and suffering, which is compensation for the physical and emotional pain suffered due to the accident.
Disability, which is compensation for permanent or temporary disabilities resulting from the accident.
The amount of damages that a plaintiff can recover will depend on the specific circumstances of their case.
Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall Accident on a Wet Floor
If you have been involved in a slip and fall accident on a wet floor, there are several steps that you should take to protect your rights and ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve. These steps include:
1. Seek medical attention: seek immediate medical attention for any injuries sustained in the accident.
2. Report the accident: report the accident to the property owner or manager and ask for a written report.
3. Gather evidence: gather evidence, such as witness statements, surveillance footage, and medical records.
4. Contact an attorney: contact a wet floor attorney to discuss your legal options.
Why Hire a Slip and Fall Attorney For A Wet Floor Accident?
Proving fault in slip and fall cases can be challenging because it either: (a) requires establishing that the property owner was aware of the hazardous condition, or (b) that the condition existed for a sufficient amount of time that they should have known about it. To prove this, it involves gathering evidence such as surveillance footage, photos taken at the scene, witness testimony (bystanders, medical personnel), incident reports, and maintenance records. Additionally, insurance companies may try to shift blame onto the victim, further complicating the process. An experienced slip and fall attorney can navigate these challenges and help build a strong case on your behalf.
FAQ – Our Clients Often Ask
Some of the most frequently asked questions about wet floor cases in Florida include:
1. How long do I have to file a wet floor lawsuit in Florida?
a. In Florida, the statute of limitations for slip and fall accidents is four years from the date of the accident.
2. Can I still recover damages if I was partially at fault for the accident?
a. Yes, Florida has a pure comparative fault system, which means that you can still recover damages even if you were partially at fault for the accident.
3. Can I recover damages if the wet floor was not visible?
a. Yes, as long as the property owner knew or should have known about the hazard and failed to address it.
4. How much compensation can I receive for a slip and fall accident on a wet floor?
a. The amount of compensation you can receive for a slip and fall accident on a wet floor depends on several factors, including the severity of your injuries and the extent of your damages.
5. Does Florida Have a Specific Wet Floor Sign Law?
a. The short answer is no. Florida does not have a specific law that mandates businesses to use wet floor signs when cleaning or mopping their floors. However, this does not mean that businesses have no obligation to keep their premises safe and free from hazards. Under Florida law, businesses owe a duty of care to their customers and invitees to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition and to warn them of any known or foreseeable risks that could cause harm.
This duty of care applies to any transitory foreign substances on the floor, such as water, oil, grease, food, or debris. A transitory foreign substance is anything that is not supposed to be on the floor and that can create a slippery or dangerous condition. If a business fails to remove or clean up a transitory foreign substance in a timely manner, or fails to warn customers of its presence, it can be held liable for any injuries that result from a slip and fall accident.
Wet floor accidents can be serious, causing injuries that can have a long-lasting impact on your quality of life. Fortunately, Florida law offers protection for those who have been injured due to a property owner's negligence. If you’ve been involved in a slip and fall accident due to a wet floor, it’s important to seek out legal representation that will help guide you through the legal process, and protect your rights. Contact Frank M. Eidson Attorney At Law for a free, no obligation, case review and get you the compensation you deserve.
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