When shoppers walk through stores, browsing merchandise or hunting down a specific item can cause them to take their eyes off the floor, making slip, trip, and fall injuries more likely. However, under Florida law, stores are obligated to maintain safe conditions that should prevent these injuries.
A Florida woman recently fell in an Oldsmar Walmart Store, stating that she slipped and fell on a wet substance that was on the floor. The plaintiff, Dondenna Crabtree, filed a complaint requesting surveillance footage of the slip and fall to use in her case.
Walmart objected to the complaint, arguing that if Crabtree were to see the video prior to her deposition, she would be able to alter her testimony. However, Walmart did not give any specific facts to support this argument, or state why seeing the video prior to the deposition could give Crabtree an unfair advantage.
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled that Walmart must turn over the video to Crabtree and her legal team, as no specific evidence was presented that she would tailor her deposition testimony to the video footage.
Let’s take a look at Florida premises liability law – and why the Crabtree case sets an important precedent that will affect future cases.
Elements of a Premises Liability Slip and Fall Case
In order to win a premises liability slip and fall case, the plaintiff must prove that certain elements were present, and that this led to damages that could be rectified through financial compensation.
Breach of Duty
Under Florida law, businesses are obligated to maintain safe conditions, which is known as a duty. Florida very specifically outlines the level of duty that is owed to a customer. Stores are obligated to keep areas that are open to customers free of any potential hazard that could cause injury, including foreign substances that could result in a slip and fall.
To prove that the property owner is liable for your injuries, you must show that the business establishment breached this duty. Florida law specifically outlines that if a person slips and falls on a foreign substance, they must prove that the establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the condition and should have taken action to remedy it. In this case, the business establishment would have breached its duty to the customer.
The Crabtree ruling is important here, as video surveillance footage could be used to determine how long the foreign substance was present prior to the accident, and if the store had sufficient time to remedy the situation.
Damages and Causation
You must also be able to prove that you suffered damages, and that these damages occurred as a result of your slip and fall injury.
To document damages, you must choose an appropriate personal injury doctor. Someone who can document the extent of your injuries, and how they affect your ability to function in daily life. It is also important to save evidence of financial damages such as medical bills and lost wages.
You must also be able to prove that your injuries occurred due to the slip and fall. It is important to seek medical attention directly following your injury, preferably in an emergency room. This establishes the timeline of your injury, and that your injury was severe enough to require emergency medical attention. Other evidence such as surveillance footage could also be important in establishing causation, as this could be used to document the severity of the slip and fall.
For Florida Slip and Fall Injury Victims
If you suffered a slip and fall injury due to unsafe conditions in a business establishment, seeking compensation could help to secure your financial future, in addition to holding the business owner accountable for the negligent conditions that resulted in your injury.
A knowledgeable Florida personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve. Simply contact our office today to learn what options are available to you.
About the Author:
Since 1994, seasoned litigation and trial lawyer Anthony B. White has helped thousands of accident victims seek damages due to injuries sustained as a result of another party’s negligence. Included in America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals and selected to the 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions of Florida Super Lawyers, Mr. White specializes in car accidents, insurance disputes, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice cases. He is a longstanding member of the Florida Justice Association and the American Association for Justice and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Justice Association.