A “slip and fall” is not only a very common type of accident, but one that can cause serious injury. This type of accident can happen anywhere – at home, on the street – but complicated legal issues arise when the accident happens at a place of business. In Barandas v. Ross Dress For Less, Inc., the District Court for the Southern District of Florida considers a slip and fall accident at a Florida clothing store.

Plaintiff Amelia Barandas alleged that she was injured when she slipped and fell on a wet spot in an Oakland Park, Fla. Ross store. The accident occurred after she left a store dressing room. Plaintiff claimed that a store employee told her after the accident that children had spilled water on the spot where she fell. She filed a negligence lawsuit against Ross, alleging that store employees failed to warn her of the wet spot.

The court explained that a business owner must take reasonable care to keep its premises safe and warn those visiting the premises of any dangerous conditions of which the business knows or should know. “[A] plaintiff who slips and falls on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment . . . must prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it,” the court noted.

Ross filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that Plaintiff was unable to show that the company was negligent. The company argued “that ten minutes or less – the length of time Plaintiff was in the fitting room – is too short a time to require a retailer to remedy a spill and to charge it with negligence for failing to do so.”

The court denied the motion, however, finding that Plaintiff had presented a material issue of fact as to whether Ross acted negligently in failing to clean up the spill and/or warn Plaintiff about before the accident. The court ruled that the Defendant’s argument was without merit because it assumed that the spill happened during the 10 minutes that Plaintiff was in the dressing room.

Furthermore, even if Defendant could show it could not have had constructive knowledge (presumed knowledge, based on the circumstances) of the spill because it occurred shortly before the accident, a jury could still find that the company had actual knowledge of the spill. Indeed, Plaintiff argued that a Ross employee told her that the children had spilled water, creating the wet spot.

As a result, the court denied the motion and scheduled trial for August.

If you were recently injured in an accident at a place of business and are interested in pursuing a claim against the business, call the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Anidjar & Levine today. Anidjar & Levine’s slip and fall injury attorneys represent clients throughout South Florida, including in Hialeah, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach and Hollywood. Anidjar & Levine are happy to discuss your potential claim in a free initial consultation. You can reach the firm’s Ft. Lauderdale offices at 800-747-3733 or fill out an on-line “Contact Us” form.

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Duty to Warn in Florida Products Liability Cases – Farias v. Mr. Heater

Proximate Cause in Florida Personal Injury Cases – Sunbelt Environmental v. Gulf Coast Truck and Equipment Company