Florida personal injury lawyer, Guy S. DiMartino, DC, JD, discusses why lawyers are not taking slip and fall cases anymore.
The typical scenario in these slip and fall cases are as follows. A customer is walking through a supermarket when she slips and falls because somebody dropped a slippery substance on the floor and she is severely injured. You call a number of attorneys and they tell you that they cannot handle the case or they sign you up and then in a few months you get a letter from the lawyer telling you that they can no longer represent you. Why aren't lawyers taking these cases?
New Florida Law Regarding Foreign Transitory Substance
If you fall on a slippery substance, like water or grease, on a business premises the case is called a foreign transitory substance case. In 2010, the Florida legislature changed the injured person's burden of proof in these cases. Under the new law, it is not enough to show that the substance was on the floor and you slipped, fell and hurt yourself. Now, you have to show that the retailer had actual knowledge of the problem or that the substance was on the floor for a long enough period of time so that the store should have noticed it if they were being diligent.
Do you see the problem with this standard?
Typically, a person who falls and hurts themselves is not a position to gather evidence at the time of the fall. The person is either totally embarrassed about what happened, shaken-up by the event or taken away from the store by an ambulance. So, the last thing on the person's mind is documenting the substance, the area in question, the witnesses or what people from the store or in the area said about the event. The substance will be cleaned up immediately by the store personnel so nobody else gets hurt. To further add insult to injury, the store is not obligated to provide the injured person with a copy of any store surveillance showing the incident.
Action Steps that must immediately be taken by Injured Person or their Representative
If you hope to be able to pursue a claim for these injuries, I suggest that you do the following:
- Fill out an incident report and write everything down regarding the event
- Listen to what the store employees have to say – sometimes they will say something like – I called for a clean-up 10 minutes ago – or this happens all the time because of ….
- Get the names of all store employees that you dealt with
- Get the names of all witnesses to the event
- Write a letter to the store requesting that they preserve any video
- When you get home and are up to it – write down everything that you can remember including the description of folks you may have dealt with
- Call a lawyer ASAP so any and all evidence can be preserved without evidence you will never be able to prove your case
Some people are serious injury in slip and fall accidents in supermarkets. It is very difficult to make a claim for these injuries because of the current state of the law. If you follow the above action steps immediately after the incident, you may have a fighting chance for recovery.
If you have any questions about a Florida slip and fall incident, call Guy S. DiMartino, DC, JD at (352) 267-9168 or fill out the internet consultation form to the right.