Florida Slip Trip and Fall Grocery Store Injury Claims: What Does Florida Law Require (ie., Supermarket Injury Accident Law) if I Slip on Water or Fruit at a Supermarket Such as Walmart, Publix, Sedano’s,Target or Costco?

Florida Supermarket Slip Trip Fall_fightsforyou.net

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It is the holiday season now in South Florida, and many of us are shopping at outlet malls, strip malls, shopping centers, supermarkets and grocery stores. These retail establishments, including restaurants, bars and fast food eateries, are very busy this time of year and unfortunately wet floor accidents are bound to happen. Specifically in South Florida supermarkets and grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Winn-Dixie, Milam’s, Publix, Walmart, Costco, Sedanos, Presidente Supermercado and Target, one of the most common types of incidents that occurs is where one slips and falls on on a wet floor or water (especially if raining outside), grease, melted ice, milk, soup, oil, soda, food, fruit (grapes, tomatoes, eggs, banana peels, etc.), candy, debris or other type of transitory foreign substance that makes the floor slippery. These type of slip and fall accidents due to wet floors can happen in the aisles, by the check out lines and registers, various departments (candy, produce, dairy, deli, beauty care), restrooms, walking paths, parking lots, sidewalks, entrances, exits and lobbies. If slipping and falling on water happens, one may seek out the assistance of a Miami supermarket slip and fall injury lawyer or Fort Laduderdale Florida grocery store accident attorney to see what Florida’s supermarket injury accident law is on this type of wet floor case.

Of note, the law generally provides that a business owner (or the one in possession or control of it) has two duties towards a business patron or customer:

  • They must maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition (which includes the duty to use reasonable care to learn of the existence of any slippery and dangerous conditions on the premises by way of inspections at reasonable intervals of time); and
  • They must warn of a concealed peril (such as via wet floor signs) of which they either knew or should have known about and which could not have been discovered by the injured customer through the exercise of ordinary care.

However, when a Publix customer slips and falls on a slippery substance (could be an oily floor or greasy floor) as referenced above, the law recently changed and the customer’s Florida supermarket slip and fall accident case due to a wet floor became much harder to establish.  As of July 1, 2010, Florida Statute §768.0755 (premises liability for transitory foreign substances in a business establishment) now requires that a customer (also termed a business invitee) prove that the business had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous (ie., slippery) condition and should have taken action to remedy it — constructive knowledge may be proven by circumstantial evidence showing that:

  • The slippery or dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have known of the condition; or
  • The condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.

Some facts within Florida case law which tends to show that a substance has been on the floor for a while could include darkened fruit (such as a banana peel), rotting, smudges, streaks, tracks and/or footprints through oil/water, candy that has been stepped on and squished, produce and other grocery items that have been stepped on, a frozen item that has melted (such as ice or frozen orange juice), and possibly where a puddle is so big that is is clear that the leak or source of the liquid/substance has been there for quite some time (such as from the ice machine, soda machine, or a leaky freezer or refrigerator).

If you are a Florida Publix grocery store customer who slips and falls on a wet floor, oily floor, greasy floor, puddle of water or some other slippery substance and you sustain personal injuries as a result, the types of damages recoverable for negligence claims and which a Miami Publix injury accident attorney or a Florida Walmart slip and fall injury lawyer may be able to assert a claim or lawsuit for include:

  • pain and suffering (both past and future, such as for a future neck or back surgery, spinal injuries (herniated and bulging discs, torn annulus, nerve injuries), head injuries, torn muscles, tendons and ligaments (including a torn labrum (SLAP tear) or rotator cuff), tendinitis, and broken bones (leg, hip, arm, knee, ankle, wrist, shoulder, vertebrae, toe, finger, foot and hand);
  • disability;
  • disfigurement (such as scars and/or loss of a leg or other limb);
  • mental anguish (could include psychological damages);
  • loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life (one may not be able to do the same things you used to);
  • hospital, nurse or other medical expenses, both past and future (medical bills, insurance liens, EMS/ambulance bills, etc.);
  • loss of earnings or wages (if you miss work due to the injury or going to a doctors appointment; loss of sick or vacation time);
  • loss of ability to earn money in the future (whether you can no longer work, or cannot perform the same job you used to); and
  • aggravation of a previously existing condition (if you had back or neck pain that is made worse).

A Florida resident or even a tourist on vacation down in South Florida must always remember that even though a Florida Publix slip and fall accident occurs, it does not mean you are always entitled to these types of personal injury damages. In fact, Florida law requires that one slipping and falling at a Miami Florida Walmart prove certain elements of a negligence claim in order to prevail, namely:

  • duty;
  • breach of that duty
  • damages (as discussed above); and
  • causation (ie., that ones failure to use due care actually caused the accident).

It should be noted that if you are a Florida Publix employee, Miami Walmart employee, Fort Lauderdale Target employee, Orlando Costco employee or Homestead Sedano’s employee, and you slip and fall on a wet floor, greasy floor, oily floor or other transitory foreign substance in the supermarket while working or on the job, and you sustain injuries from this Florida workplace accident, in general, you can not sue your employer arising out of this slip and fall, you are required to bring a Florida workers compensation claim. For an extensive discussion on Florida workers compensation law and Florida work accidents where one is injured on the job, see my previous article.

One final note as to discovery issues that may arise in a Florida slip and fall lawsuit or Florida trip and fall case against Publix, Walmart, Winn-Dixie, Home Depot, K-Mart, Sams Club, Costco, Walgreens, CVS or any other commercial establishment, in Publix Supermarkets, Inc. v. Santos, 118 So.3d 317 (Fla. 3d DCA 2013), a customer brought a recent lawsuit for common law negligence and negligent mode of operation against a Publix store located in Miami Florida, due to slipping and falling as a result of “old wet spinach or some other transitory substance” on the floor at a Miami Publix.  Within the Publix lawsuit, the customer sought the discovery of all slips and falls at the specific store where she fell, within the three years prior to her accident. Publix served the customer with its response to that interrogatory, which showed that no prior incidents occurred in the subject Publix store. The customer thereafter sought to depose Publix and requested that Publix produce all incident reports relative to any occurrence (similar to the one at issue in the lawsuit) in the Publix stores within the entire State of Florida. Publix objected and moved for a protective order, contending that the burden of proof standard set forth in section 768.0755, Florida Statutes (2011), did not require it to produce the information. The trial court ordered Publix to supplement its response to an earlier interrogatory, which was directed to prior incidents at the store, with information as to all of Publix’s stores statewide within the past three years. The Third District Court of Appeal reversed this ruling, holding that under section 768.0755, Florida Statutes, Publix only needed to respond as to slip and fall incidents at the specific business establishment (ie., store) at issue, not as to all similar incidents throughout all their Publix stores in the State of Florida.

Moral of Story: whether you live in Miami Beach, Hallandale, Hollywood, Davie, Westchester, West Kendall, Doral, Aventura, Boca Raton, Homestead, Key Biscayne, Key West, Orlando, Tampa, Naples, Miami Beach, Fort Myers, Weston, Pompano Beach, Hialeah or another area within Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Palm Beach, or somewhere in Miami Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Lee County or Monroe County, if you happen to be a Walmart customer that slips and falls on a wet floor, greasy floor or oily floor at at Miami supermarket or Florida grocery store, or if you slip and fall at a restaurant, shopping mall, hotel, store or other type of business establishment due to water, oil, fruit or other transitory foreign substance that makes the floor slippery, just know that these are the types of issues a Miami Costco slip and fall injury lawyer or Miami Florida Publix accident attorney will have to deal with in analyzing a particular accident and the supermarket injury accident law that may apply to a customer’s case or lawsuit.