Florida Slip and Fall Accidents

The son-in-law of famous country singer Alan Jackson was recently killed in a tragic slip and fall accident in Palm Beach County.  According to a report from the Miami Herald regarding the incident, Samuel “Ben” Selecman was assisting another passenger onto a boat in Jupiter this past weekend when he slipped on the dock, in the process falling and hitting his head.  An attorney and prosecutor in Nashville, Selecman, 28, married the eldest of Alan Jackson’s children in October 2017.  Because of the fall and the resulting blow to his head, he sustained injuries from which he eventually died.  It is unclear at this point whether he slipped and fell on a puddle that had been on the dock for some time or it was a puddle of water that had just accumulated.  Whichever turns out to be the case will be particularly important for reasons explained below.

As exhibited by this incident, slip and fall incidents are not the scam or shakedown that many defense attorneys sometimes may make them out to be.  In contrast, a slip and fall incident can be extremely serious and can even result in someone’s death or serious injuries like this recent tragic incident in Jupiter.  However, slip and fall incidents occur every day as a result of a business or property owner or operator’s failure to take due care in ensuring that their premises are free of potentially dangerous conditions such as the pool of water in this incident or a broken bottle of salad dressing in a grocery store that scatters on the floor.  In such instances, the property owner can properly be held accountable under Florida law if he, she, or it did not take reasonable care to prevent business patrons or entrants upon the property from harm.

The Law Relating to Premises Liability Claims, or Slip and Fall Incidents, in Florida

Under Florida law, property owners are required to keep their property in reasonably safe condition.  This duty includes requirements to protect any guests or visitors from any dangers or dangerous conditions which may exist on the property.  If the property owner fails to do so, then a victim who is injured by the danger or dangerous condition can sue the property owner or operator for this failure.

In order to successfully prove a slip and fall claim in a Florida court, a victim must prove several things.  First, the injured person must prove the owner of the property on which the victim fell owed a “duty of care” to the victim.  Under Florida law, every business is deemed to owe a duty of care to any member of the public who enters the business to maintain the establishment in reasonably safe condition and to warn the persons of any dangerous conditions of which the business owner or operator is or should be aware.  Second, the victim must demonstrate that he or she was injured because the business or property owner failed to uphold his or her duty of care.  Therefore, if Selecman’s family is able to show that the dock’s owner or operator failed to uphold their duty of care in cleaning up a puddle of water that then resulted in him slipping and hitting his head, then they may be able to sue the dock’s operator in connection with his death.

The Special Rules That Apply Regarding “Transitory Foreign Substances” on Business Premises in Florida

For business owners and operators in the Sunshine State, Florida law imposes a special duty to prevent injuries to the business’s patrons from transitory foreign substances which may accumulate on the floor.  Under Florida law, if a person slips and falls on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment, then the victim must prove that the business or its owner had knowledge of the foreign substance and failed to act to clean up the substance in order to succeed on his or her Florida slip and fall lawsuit.

However, Florida law permits a victim to introduce evidence that the business owner had actual or constructive knowledge of a foreign transitory substance like a puddle of water on the business owner’s premises.  Constructive knowledge means that the business knew or should have known about the transitory foreign substance and the danger it posed to the business’s patrons.  In the case of a dock like that in which Ben Selecman fell and was injured and then eventually died, it would be expected that water may occasionally splash up onto the dock from boats which docked there.  However, if the business which owned or operated the dock did not regularly mop up this water or if the water was the result of a sudden rainstorm and the dock’s operator was aware that water had accumulated on its dock, then it could potentially be liable under Florida law for Selecman’s injuries and ultimate death from those injuries.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys of Schwed, Adams & McGinley

Although not every premises liability incident makes the news like the recent tragic incident in Jupiter, slip and fall incidents occur frequently in Florida business establishments and on other Florida properties and can result in very serious injuries or even death to those who may be the victim of someone else’s failure to maintain their property in a safe condition or remedy an obviously dangerous and unsafe condition on their property.  If you have been injured by a business or individual’s failure to maintain his, her or its property in a safe manner, contact the experienced slip and fall attorneys of Schwed Adams & McGinley today at (877) 694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation regarding your particular situation.  At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, we are experienced and aggressive personal injuries attorneys who have successfully handled hundreds of slip and fall incidents throughout the State of Florida and have recovered maximum damages for our clients no matter the extent of their injuries.