I slipped and fell in a popular Florida grocery store. They know I was hurt and that it was their fault. Who will pay for my medical bills and how will I get compensated for my losses?
Author: Attorney Jason Macri
People slip and fall in Florida grocery stores every single day. Many of those people get hurt and require emergency medical care. Others try and walk off their injury only to find that the next day, they can’t even get out bed because they are so stiff. The cost of health care is so high in the United States that sometimes, a person my get hurt but wait until the very last minute to get medical attention, hoping the entire time that their injuries just go away. Regardless of when a person gets medical attention for their slip and fall and whether they have health insurance or not, there will more than likely be some medical expenses that will simply not be covered. Most people believe that if they get injured in a store and the injury was due to the store’s perceived negligence, they will be compensated for the injury and other associated losses. Unfortunately, in Florida, it’s not that simple.
Under Florida law, a person who gets injured because they slipped and fell in a store does not only need to prove that they actually did fall in the store and that the fall caused their injuries. They also must prove that the store was negligent because the store either knew that the floor was dangerous or that the store should have known that the floor was dangerous. To most people, that issue doesn’t seem so difficult to overcome. Surely, that nearby witness will explain that the store knew about the wet floor or the store’s employees will certainly come forward and admit that they accidentally forgot to clean up a spill, right? Not really. Most witnesses don’t want to get involved as they have their own busy life to tend to and don’t have the time to help you or just simply can’t say whether the store knew the floor was slippery. Employees are typically more worried about losing their job or getting sued directly by you so they most likely are not going to admit that they made a mistake. Much of the time, you are alone in your fight against the store and are the only person who has the ability to spell out exactly what happened.
You might be thinking to yourself; how am I supposed to know what the store knew before I fell? How am I expected to prove that the store knew about that water that was on the floor in aisle 3 prior to my fall? It sounds like it is next to impossible to prove that the store knew about the slippery condition of the floor and most times, it is impossible. Unless a person is able to conduct their own investigation immediately after falling, and is able to speak with all witnesses and get contact information for those witnesses, and then is able to photograph the condition of the floor where they fell from multiple angles, there is a good chance that the person will not be able to prove the store had notice.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Florida Courts have already ruled that even though a person must prove notice in order to proceed with their slip and fall case, proof of notice can come from other facts. For example, a lady slipped and fell at a popular grocery store in Florida and explained that there appeared to be mashed up fruit on the floor where she fell and the fruit looked decayed and appeared to have been there for a while before she fell. She also stated that she had been in the aisle for approximately 5 minutes before falling, showing that the store had at least 5 minutes to notice the slippery condition and clean it up. The Court allowed her to proceed with her case because much of her testimony seemed to indicate that the fruit had been on the floor for some time and that the store had done nothing to clean it up.
Not every case will have these types of facts but certainly, every case is unique and any relevant fact may help prove notice. Sometimes a spill is dirty or has track marks going through it. Other times, water may be leaking from a nearby cooler or from a leak in the roof and it can be shown that the store knew about the leak before your fall. This is why it is very important to go over every fact of your case with your lawyer. You never know what will be uncovered. It may make the difference between being able to prove the store had notice and not being able to prove your case at all.