I Slipped and Fell at the Store But There Was a Wet Floor Sign: Do I Have a Case? In Florida, Maybe.
Posted By Alan Sackrin on March 18, 2014
Last Update: 12/15/16
There are permanent conditions or natural locations (like stairways) where business owners and other property owners are duty-bound to place permanent warning signs of a hazardous condition (including using yellow warning tape).
However, what about those situations where there is a temporary hazard requiring the use of a movable wet floor sign like the kind you see at Florida grocery stores, super stores or restaurants?
If you slip and fall in Florida where there is a temporary wet floor sign, then do you have a claim for damages against the property owner?
Under Florida law, the answer to this question depends upon the facts of the case — the location of the accident, the circumstances that caused the victim to be injured, which includes examining the behavior and knowledge of the business owner, and specifics about the victim are all factors to consider. For example, a person who slips and falls in a puddle of water while walking down a grocery store aisle is a very different circumstance from an intoxicated party-goer who falls on a convenience store’s wet floor while dancing down the aisle carrying a twelve-pack to the counter.
One thing is for sure, an injured party in Florida may still have a case (meaning, the ability to recover medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more) even if he or she slips and falls in an area that is clearly marked by a caution Wet Floor sign. (However, Florida’s comparative negligence law will likely impact any recovery. That law says the damages the injured person receives are reduced by the percentage that the injured person was at fault for his or her own injury. For example, if a jury decides that a victim’s has a $100,000 in damages, but the victim was 35 percent at fault for their own injury, then the victim will receive $65,000 from the business or property owner.)
Do Warning Signs Provide 100% Blanket Protection for the Business and/or Property Owner from Legal Liability?
Investigation of the case should focus upon what the scene was like at the time of the accident. Photos taken from cell phones, statements from witnesses made close in time to the event, incident reports prepared by the business owner, testimony of paramedics, statements made to medical professionals (this issue can be critical and is an excellent reason why a victim should talk with a lawyer after a slip and fall – even if the victim tries to settle the case on their own), and video surveillance (which stores do not like to share) are extremely important in proving a plaintiff’s case in a wet floor slip and fall accident.
Additionally, was there a pre-existing danger that the business owner knew about or should have known about and could have been corrected (or that the owner delayed or procrastinated in getting rid of the dangerous condition)?
Further, any investigation will also have to include the injury victim: Will a judge or jury find that the victim should have understood there was a danger and should have taken steps to avoid it? Will the judge see their actions as careless?
Still another consideration: who is the victim relative to the property and who is the owner? What is the status of the person on the property? A customer at the grocery store who slips will be treated differently under the law than a shoplifter or robber (i.e. a trespasser); moreover, an employee who slips and falls at the store will be given different treatment under the law than either the customer or the crook.
Bottom line: Warning signs do not provide 100% protection. In order for a victim to win a Wet Floor Slip and Fall case: the injury victim must have been hurt in circumstances where, even though the owner put up a Wet Floor Sign, the owner still created a hazard or the owner didn’t remedy the danger in a reasonable time or manner. For instance, one small Wet Floor sign may not be enough if the danger extends far enough away from the caution warning, like when the customer in the superstore starts down a long, slippery, fresh mopped aisle and there’s just one Wet Floor sign way down at the other end of the shopping aisle.
Note: Most stores, and their insurance companies, will try and argue that the Wet Floor Sign bars any recovery (or responsibility) on their part. An experienced slip and fall lawyer will know how to counter that argument by walking the adjuster through the facts of the case and showing how the facts establish the elements needed to prove a slip and fall case. Of course, the element needed to prove a case will depend on the location of the slip and fall; the elements can be different for falls occurring at a restaurant, grocery store, theme park, stairs, parking lot, etc.
What Should You Do?
If you have been harmed by a slip and fall at a store or other business establishment and there was a wet floor sign, a good piece of advice is to speak with an experienced slip and fall lawyer before you file a claim, or talk with a medical professional (what you tell the doctor can be shared with the defense), to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.
If you found this information helpful, please share this article and bookmark it for your future reference.