Posted By Alan Sackrin on January 22, 2015
Last Update: 02/03/16
In Florida, when someone is hurt in an accident due to a fall (commonly known as a “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” ) and that fall was the result of someone else’s negligence, state law provides the injured party with the ability to recover damages (lost wages, pain and suffering and more) against those responsible for the dangerous condition. One of the most common examples of a slip and fall accident in Florida, is the person who is injured from skidding, tripping and/or falling on a slick surface caused by a Florida rain storm.
Of course, grocery stores; hotel lobbies; convenience store entrances; restaurant entrances; office building entries; and more try and protect people from falling by doing things like grating surfaces and installing floor mats.
So, what happens if it was raining outside, there was a floor mat, and you slipped and fell and got hurt, do you have a claim against the business or grocery store for your injuries? The answer depends upon the circumstances surrounding the fall because, in part, of the recent change in Florida’s premises liability law. In most cases like this fact pattern, you will likely need the help of an experienced Florida injury lawyer to determine if you have a winnable negligence claim for damages given that there was a floor mat in place at the time of the accident.
3 Things to Consider in Floor Mat Falls
1. The Type of Mat
Not all floor mats are the same; different mats are sold for different uses. There are floor mats made for anti-static; pool areas; bathroom areas; garage floors; and other areas. Some are made with recycled materials. Some are designed to inter-connect with other mats. Some are thick, some are thin. Some are rubber, some are carpeted.
It is important to know if the floor mat involved in your fall was appropriate for use in the spot where you fell. Was it made to handle rain water?
Entry mats should be rough enough to remove things like leaves or sand from your shoes, that’s their purpose. However, is that rough entry mat able to absorb rain water? Maybe, maybe not. Water absorbent mats have a specific design that not all entry mats share.
2. The Backing of the Floor Mat
It’s not just the top of the mat, the part that comes into contact with your foot, that’s important to investigate. What about the underside of the floor mat? Did you fall because the floor mat was not appropriate for use in an area where rain water might collect? Slippery backing on even the most water-absorbent top-sided mat isn’t going to do much to stop someone from skidding and slipping and falling if that slick-sided backing has no traction on a wet surface.
3. Condition of the Floor Mat
Finally, even if the floor mat is perfect in its design for an area where rain water might pool or puddle or otherwise cause a falling hazard, there’s still the concern about its wear and tear. An old floor mat that has been damaged or simply outlived its usefulness is just as dangerous as a floor mat that isn’t able to protect against rain water. The edges may no longer lay flat on the floor, for instance. Or the mat may have become so worn that water soaks through its once water-resistant surface.
Do You Have a Premises Liability Claim for Your Slip and Fall Accident?
In Florida, someone who is hurt from falling on a wet floor surface may have a winnable “slip and fall” claim against those responsible for the care and upkeep of the site of the fall if they were negligent and breached that duty of care. This is what is known as “premises liability” under Florida statutes, and anyone operating a business must keep their customers, visitors, and guests safe from harm. That business owner, or party in control of the location where the accident occurred, has a legal duty not only to monitor the site for hazards, they have a legal duty to remedy any dangers they discover — like rain causing a fall danger — in a reasonable time or manner.
If a wet floor from rain causes your fall injury, then you may have a valid legal claim for injury damages. The placement of a floor mat will be a response from those who are responsible for your safety, as something they did to keep you safe from harm. To succeed in your floor mat slip and fall claim, you will have to show that the floor mat was not sufficient or appropriate protection in some way: that it was not reasonable to think that it would keep someone from falling in the rain.
What Should You Do?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed by a slip and fall at a business establishment, is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before filing a claim 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 discuss your case and 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.