Florida law generally provides that a store owner is required to maintain the physical premises in a reasonably safe condition and to warn visitors of any hazards of which the owner is or should be aware. When an owner fails to meet this standard, it’s likely to be legally liable for any injuries that result. In Garcia v. Target, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida provides some insight in to how courts consider whether the owner knew or should have known about a specific dangerous condition on the property.
Ms. Garcia was injured when she slipped and fell on her way out of a Target store in Davie. She and her son had visited the store to get their eyes examined and spent several hours at the Target before the accident. Although she didn’t notice anything before she fell, Garcia said she found that the floor was wet when she hit the ground. She said she saw drops of water covering about three tiles. Mr. Garcia also observed the wet floor after the accident and said there were a number of wet footprints in the vicinity. A Target employee later wiped down the floor and set up a caution sign.
Garcia sued Target for premises liability, arguing that the company knew or should have known about the wet floor and failed to properly warn visitors. In response, the company moved for summary judgment, arguing that it couldn’t be held liable as a result of the state Third District Court of Appeals’ 2011 ruling in Delgado v. Laundromax. In that case, the appeals court said a woman who slipped and fell on a wet surface at a Laundromat failed to show that the property owner knew or should have known about the water because it hadn’t been raining that day, the washers and sinks weren’t located near the wet surface and the woman testified that she didn’t see the water, didn’t know where it came from and didn’t know how long it had been there.
Denying Target’s motion, the District Court said the present case was distinguishable from Delgado. Specifically, Garcia’s son testified that there were wet foot prints all around the scene of the accident and that it appeared that several people had walked through the wet stop before his mother fell. “These facts raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Defendant knew there was water on the floor but ignored it or should have discovered it earlier,” the Court said. As a result, the Court said the matter should proceed to trial.
If you were recently injured in an accident at a place of business and are interested in pursuing a claim against the property owner of the premises where you were injured, call the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Anidjar & Levine today. We represent clients throughout the region, including in Boca Raton, Coral Springs and Pompano Beach. Call the firm’s Ft. Lauderdale offices at 800-747-3733 or fill out an on-line “Contact Us” form.
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