When someone is injured in a slip or trip and fall in a grocery store in Miami or the surrounding areas of Florida, they can suffer painful debilitating injuries, such as fractures, head injuries or back injuries. While those who fall because of a damp floor or a "transitory foreign substance" might be legally entitled to money as compensation, these cases require a careful investigation and analysis of the facts. The Florida Supreme Court defined the phrase "transitory foreign substance" in Owens v. Publix Supermarkets, Inc., 802 So.2d 315, 317 (Fla. 2001) as "any liquid or solid substance, object or item located where it does not belong." The Owen decision essentially created a rebuttable presumption that a premises owner had failed to maintain his or her property in a reasonably safe condition if a transitory foreign substance was present on the floor. However, the law has shifted since this decision, so a skilled and experienced Miami slip and fall attorney is essential to gather the evidence to prevail in these fact intensive cases. Think of it this way. No store owner is responsible for following every customer to insure that they do not spill something which might cause another to fall. That burden is too high. But, what store owner's must do is have a program in effect to periodically check for potentially dangerous conditions, block them off, warn about them and clean them as soon as possible.
The Florida Legislature enacted Florida Statute § 768.0755 along with other legislation shifted the evidentiary burden in slip and fall cases back to injury victims. Under Section 768.0755, slip and fall victims in cases involving transitory foreign substances must prove that the owner of the premises or party in possession had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard. Constructive knowledge by the business may be established by the duration of time the hazard was present or the frequency of the hazardous condition, which made if foreseeable. Trained lawyers who practice in the area of fall injuries know the right questions to ask to determine if this element is present.