Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

From time to time, people are injured from slip and fall accidents. However, slip and fall accidents are regular occurrences that can happen anywhere and anytime to anyone, including the young, elderly, and healthy. 

The injuries after the accident can vary from head trauma and broken bones to bruises. Unfortunately, when accidents like this happen, the victim could face years of pain, financial difficulties, and mental anguish.

Sometimes, people assume that the slipping and falling incident is their fault. However, this is sometimes not the case, as property owners, landlords, and business owners may be responsible. 

It is important to understand the necessary steps to take after you or a loved one experiences a slip and fall accident. Not taking these steps could result in long term health issues and hefty medical expenses. 

The first thing you should do after sustaining a slip and fall injury is to seek immediate medical attention from a healthcare professional. If you avoid an immediate medical examination, it could end up costing you in more ways than one.

Inquiring with a licensed attorney could be essential to obtain the compensation you may need for medical care, lost wages from missing work, and other expenses related to your injury. The slip and fall attorneys at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers are available to listen to the details of your claim during a free consultation. If you have a viable claim in the West Palm Beach area (by appointment only), we may be able to help you recover the fair amount of compensation you deserve.

There are certain criteria that must be met to win a slip and fall case. It is important to be prepared with enough evidence to prove your injury was the result of negligence by the property owner. Having an experienced lawyer on your side could help ensure you have everything you need for a successful slip and fall claim.

If you need legal assistance with your injury claim, contact a licensed Boynton Beach slip and fall lawyer at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers for a complimentary initial consultation. Our diligent attorneys have helped our clients recover a total of over $100 million in compensation. If your claim has merit, we can help you prepare your claim to pursue the fair amount of compensation available for your situation.

Read on to learn more about how you can prepare for your slip and fall case and put yourself in a position to protect your rights to seek legal compensation. 

In a recent appellate case, a plaintiff appealed a trial court’s final judgment order entered against him in favor of defendants in the Florida slip and fall claim. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against a plasma-donation center (the Center) after slipping and falling in the defendant’s bathroom. Evidently, while the plaintiff was at the Center, he went to use the bathroom, as he pushed the door open and took a few steps onto the floor, he fell. He told the receptionist about his fall and asked her to call emergency responders. The defendants created an incident report which described the man’s fall and indicated that the Center’s supervisor checked the bathroom floor and did not see any liquid.

During a deposition, the man testified that he does not remember seeing a wet floor until after he fell but that he remembers slipping and falling forward, as if someone pushed him. When he was on the floor, he saw something that resembled a cup of water and a couple of muddy footprints. The medical supervisor testified that he did not remember how much time elapsed between the incident and inspection, and the Center did not have a schedule for inspecting the bathrooms.

The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s contention of seeing wet footprints was not enough to overcome the motion. In response, the plaintiff argued that his testimony regarding the appearance of the substance in combination with the defendant’s Centers testimony concerning the lack of inspections created a genuine issue of material fact.

As a general matter, Florida landowners have a duty to ensure the area is safe for those whom they invite onto their property. In the event that a landowner fails to take the necessary precautions to ensure their property is safe, the landowner could be liable to any visitor for injuries caused by that hazard through a Florida premises liability lawsuit.

In Florida, landowners owe two distinct duties to their visitors. First, to “exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises reasonably safe.” Second, landowners also have a duty to warn guests of known hazards that may not be immediately recognizable. Simply stated, Florida landowners have a duty to keep their property reasonably safe, and when a hazard does exist, they must warn visitors of the hazard’s existence.

With respect to warning visitors of known hazards, not all hazards are viewed as equal under the law. Courts have routinely held that landowners do not have a duty to warn their visitors about “open and obvious” hazards. Notably, the open and obvious doctrine does not protect a landowner from a failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping a safe area. Thus, the doctrine is only applied in cases where a plaintiff claims the landowner failed to warn them of a known hazard. A recent case illustrates how courts apply the open and obvious doctrine.

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All Florida personal injury claims have certain elements that must be met before a jury can award a plaintiff compensation for the injuries they have sustained. In general, all lawsuits brought under the umbrella of “negligence” must establish that the defendant violated a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff, and that the defendant’s violation of that duty resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries.

Specific to Florida premises liability lawsuits, a plaintiff must establish the following:

  • The defendant knew or should have known that the hazard existed;
  • The defendant failed to remedy the hazard or warn the plaintiff about the hazard if it was unable to be fixed; and
  • The plaintiff was injured as a result.

While this sounds simple in theory, in reality these cases are often much more complex. Often, this comes down to a plaintiff’s ability to show the court that the defendant landowner had knowledge of the hazard that caused their injuries. A recent decision issued by the Third District Court of Appeal illustrates how lower courts sometimes get the analysis wrong.

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In many personal injury cases, the named defendant will try to get the case dismissed as early as possible in the process. Often, the earliest opportunity for a defendant to try for a dismissal is at the summary judgment stage. Summary judgment is a motion that a defendant can make, claiming that the plaintiff’s case as presented cannot legally result in anything other than a defense verdict.

The legal standard at summary judgment is whether “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” In assessing the evidence during a summary judgment proceeding, the judge should consider all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. In most personal injury cases, it is the defendant that is moving for summary judgment, so the evidence is to be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.

If a defendant can prove that there is no issue of material fact, the judge will dismiss the plaintiff’s case. It is the defendant’s burden to prove that there is no issue of material fact, rather than the plaintiff’s burden to prove that one exists. A recent Florida slip-and-fall case illustrates how courts apply the summary judgment standard to expert witness testimony.

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In an effort to avoid potential litigation, many businesses enact procedures to ensure customer safety. Notwithstanding the ubiquity of such safety procedures, employees do not always follow the rules, which unfortunately leads to injuries to patrons.  When non-compliance with self-imposed safety protocols causes an injury, many people naturally question whether the failure to comply with these procedures amounts to negligence. However, as Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal recently discussed in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Wittke, a failure to comply with internal practices does not necessarily establish negligence.

Wittke revolves around a December 2009 slip-and-fall accident at a Wal-Mart in Bradenton, Florida. The plaintiff in this action was entering the Wal-Mart on a rainy day when she fell and sustained injuries. Surveillance footage showed that there were two large fans and a yellow warning cone in the area where the fall occurred. Although these measures were taken, the plaintiff asserted that Wal-Mart employees failed to follow certain corporate protocols related to wet floors and were otherwise negligent. The case ultimately proceeded to a trial, after which a jury returned a verdict in favor of Wal-Mart. The plaintiff moved for a new trial, and the trial court judge granted the motion. In this order granting a new trial, the judge noted that “the evidence . . . clearly demonstrated that [the plaintiff’s] injuries were the result of [Wal-Mart’s] failure to follow its own safety policies and procedures.” Wal-Mart appealed the order granting a new trial, and the Second District Court of Appeal agreed that a new trial was not warranted and reversed the trial court’s ruling.

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Visitors to a Renaissance festival expect to see jousts and sword fights, but they don’t typically expect to be the one dealing with an inadvertent injury at the end of the festivities. However, injuries can happen in the most unexpected places, including as described in a recent decision from the Second District Court of Appeal, the parking lot outside a Renaissance festival. In that decision, Cook v. Bay Area Renaissance Festival of Largo, Inc., the Second District needed to determine whether a trial court erred in granting summary judgment in a trip and fall case.

As noted above, the plaintiff in this case was injured while navigating the parking lot of a local Renaissance festival. Festival volunteers had directed the plaintiff to park in the overflow parking lot. There was an unpaved walkway on a patch of municipality-owned land between the parking lot and the grounds where the festival was being held. Following the festival, the plaintiff was returning to the car when she tripped on an exposed pipe that was on the patch of municipal land. There was nothing obstructing the plaintiff’s view of the pipe. Indeed, the plaintiff’s husband and other festival attendees attempted to warn the plaintiff of the pipe before she tripped. A festival volunteer removed the pipe shortly after the fall. The plaintiff brought a premises liability suit, arguing that the festival was negligent in maintaining the property. The festival moved for summary judgment on her claim against them, arguing that there was not evidence that they had control over the land where the injury occurred. There was conflicting evidence, however, regarding whether festival volunteers had directed her to use the walkway. The trial court granted the festival’s motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed.

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At issue in almost all personal injury litigation is the extent of a plaintiff’s physical injuries. Indeed, long before a possible trial, both plaintiffs and defendants enlist physicians to perform medical examinations and make professional determinations regarding the nature and extent of the alleged injuries. Given the obvious privacy interests associated with physical examinations and the defendant’s need to acquire evidence to rebut a plaintiff’s claims, problems related to medical examinations are not uncommon. Some of these possible issues are on full display in Kropf v. Celebrity Cruise, Inc., a recent decision from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Kropf arose from a slip-and-fall accident on a cruise ship owned and operated by Celebrity Cruises, Inc., the defendant in this case. The plaintiff was injured as a result of the fall and underwent revision surgery of a prior hip replacement. The surgery led to further permanent, debilitating, and significant injuries. In her complaint, the plaintiff alleged the defendant’s “negligence in allowing [the tile] to remain in a wet and slippery condition” caused the fall and, consequently, the resulting injuries. Following the initiation of the action, counsel for Celebrity Cruises emailed the plaintiff’s counsel a Notice of Compulsory Medical Evaluation, which stated the plaintiff needed to undergo a medical examination by the defendant’s medical expert and that the examination was being conducted for the purposes of determining the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s alleged injuries and any disabilities resulting from them. This notice was sent on October 14, 2014, but the plaintiff’s counsel did not respond until November 14, 2014, only about two weeks before the scheduled examination of December 1, 2014. The response stated that the plaintiff’s counsel intended to send a videographer to the medical examination. In response, the defendant brought a motion, asking the court to preclude both the plaintiff’s counsel and the plaintiff’s videographer from attending the medical examination.

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