Last Update: 01/05/16
Florida deals with the dangers from rain and wind all of the time. In fact, the biggest of all rain storms, the hurricane, is something that Floridians expect and prepare for every year.
We’re lucky to have had a few years now without being hit with a series of severe storms like we experienced back in 2004. Some say we’re past due for a big one. No one is going to forget how Florida survived 4 hurricanes within 44 days: Hurricanes Charlie, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne.
Florida Rain: We Expect it.
Hurricane season starts June 1st. However, the news this week is warning all of us here in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties that there’s already trouble brewing out in the Atlantic right now, which may form into a tropical storm. Even if it brews into something big, forecasts are that it won’t hit our part of the country.
Except for the rain. Florida’s going to get lots of it from this storm. Read the National Weather Service update here from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
No worries; South Floridian’s are used to it. We work, shop, and drive, with wet sidewalks and watery roads. From small showers to big thunderstorms, much less these tropical depressions or bigger oceanfront storms, rain and all the risks and dangers of driving in rain and the slippery surfaces that rain causes here are part of our daily life.
Accidents in the Rain: Slip and Fall Injuries
Floridians don’t stop living because it’s raining. We keep going to school and meeting our friends at a bar or restaurant. We expect the businesses here to be prepared for rain, too. We assume that they will have taken measures to protect their customers and clients. (i.e. non-skid surfaces on concrete walkways and floor mats at entrances to banks, offices, fast food stops, condominiums, hotel bars, shops, coffee houses, etc.) If you are in business here in South Florida, it’s a must to have a non-slip, rain-protection floor mat outside your business entrance.
It’s not an option. It is something that patrons are going to assume is there, because what business owner in Florida isn’t going to be ready for rain and the danger of falling that comes with it?
Florida’s Premises Liability Law When There’s No Floor Mat at an Entrance or Doorway
Most floor mats are designed to keep people from slipping on a wet surface and falling in an accident where they can be seriously hurt. Sometimes, the slip and fall accident is a minor one – some cuts and bruises, a little embarrassment.
However, sometimes falling down because there was no floor mat at the entryway results in severe injuries. Things like spinal cord injuries, other serious back injuries, fractures, broken bones, or even head injuries like traumatic brain injuries or concussions.
In Florida, our “premises liability law” protects Floridians as well as tourists or vacation visitors when someone is hurt in a slip and fall. These claims can allow the injured victim to recover things like medical expenses as well as lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and more.
Business Duty to Customers to Protect Them from Falls
Under premises liability law, any business that invites the public into its location for profitable reasons (restaurants for a meal; coffee shops for a latte; theaters for a movie and popcorn; etc.) are held to have a duty to protect their invitees.
Part of that duty to protect invitees includes putting a no-slip floor mat outside the entrances where rain may create a slippery surface for the invitee. However, in a twist here that other state statutes do not have, Florida law places a duty on the injury victim to show with admissible evidence that the business failed to meet its legal duty to the victim.
Florida Statute §768.0755 states that the injury victim must show that the business (grocery store, bar and grill, etc.) had actual or constructive knowledge about the dangerous condition, i.e., the rain-covered slippery floor at the entrance, which caused the accident, and failed to exercise reasonable care by not placing a floor mat in the area.
It may not seem fair, but in Florida, the victim has the burden to prove that the rain created a dangerous condition that led to the victim’s slip and fall and the business didn’t have the floor mat there even though it knew that it should.
Do You Have a Claim for Damages Caused by a Slip and Fall Accident?
In Florida, if you are injured in a slip and fall accident caused by the absence of a floor mat, where the floor was wet and slippery from rain, then you have a legal claim against that business for your injuries. However, recovering damages is not a guarantee; you still have to prove your case. The injured party has the burden to show that the business had knowledge, actual or constructive, of the slippery conditions and that the floor mat did not protect its invitees at the time of the fall.
An experienced Florida premises liability lawyer, like Alan Sackrin, can help you here — it’s a matter of gathering relevant admissible evidence and negotiating with the insurance company and the defense lawyers for the business, who will be quick to point out the victim’s duties under Florida Statute §768.0755.
What Should You Do Now?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed by a slip and fall, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file 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 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.