Barbara Horn slipped and fell on the wet floors of a medical center in Lakeland. She suffered knee problems and underwent several surgical procedures, culminating in total knee replacements of both knees.
Ms. Horn brought a premises liability claim against the medical center. The medical center did not dispute that it was responsible for the slippery floor, but argued that Ms. Horn already suffered from degenerative osteoarthritis, and would have eventually needed to get knee replacements anyway. The court found that although she would have required the surgery in the future, the accident in its premises caused Ms. Horn to need surgery much sooner. As a result, the accident aggravated her existing condition, and appeared to have been a partial cause of her loss.
Proving knowledge of the dangerous condition
Ms. Horn’s case demonstrates the principle that in a slip and fall claim, your accident must have caused you to suffer a loss before you can receive damages. Another important aspect of claims involving slipping on a foreign substance is the knowledge of the premises owner. The law in Florida was changed in 2012 with the effect that if you slip on a foreign item such as a squashed grape on the floor of a grocery store, you cannot make a recovery unless you can prove that the store had either actual knowledge or constructive knowledge of the hazard.
What is constructive knowledge?
A store has constructive knowledge of the presence of a hazardous foreign item if you can demonstrate through circumstantial evidence that:
- The dangerous condition existed long enough that it ought to have been discovered, or
- The presence of hazardous foreign items occurs often, and is therefore foreseeable
What does this mean for my claim?
The new law is likely to make it more difficult for a plaintiff to make a recovery in slip and fall premises liability cases. If you slip and suffer an injury, your first thought is to get medical treatment. Very few people would have the presence of mind to consider collecting evidence to support a lawsuit.
If you find yourself injured after slipping on a wet floor or other hazard, be sure to get in touch with an experienced Bradenton premises liability attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve.