While you might have visited a grocery store hundreds of times without incident, you have probably seen spilled liquids, fruit smeared on the floor, and other hazards that could easily cause a fall resulting in severe injury. If the management and ownership of a grocery store design and implement adequate safety and maintenance practices, grocery store slip and fall accidents often can be prevented. Whether a hazard is caused by failure to schedule maintenance routines, lack of response to shopper reports of a spill, insufficient lighting, or sloppy cleanup of a foreign substance on the floor, careless or inattentive employees and management can spell disaster. Even when a supermarket fails to properly clean up a spill or banana peel, litigation of a grocery store slip and fall accident can be complicated. In this blog, our Miami personal injury lawyers review a case demonstrating the importance of having an experienced legal representative in your corner.
In a case several months ago, Edwards v. Hyvee, Inc., the plaintiff filed a lawsuit after slipping and falling on a piece of watermelon that spilled on the supermarket floor. The grocery store was offering samples of the watermelon in a busy area within the market. The grocery store owner did not dispute the allegation that the plaintiff’s fall was caused by watermelon on the floor. While this might appear like a situation where the store was clearly at fault, this lawsuit reveals why assuming you do not need an experienced proven grocery store slip and fall attorney can be a mistake.
The plaintiff argued that the grocery store should be liable because serving samples of watermelon in a high-traffic area of the store made the risk reasonably foreseeable. However, the decision focused on the requisite knowledge required for the grocery store to be liable for the shopper’s injuries. The court reasoned that the grocery store owner would have needed to know the substance was on the floor and failed to adequately clean up the spill within a reasonable period. Alternatively, the plaintiff needed to show that the store owner should have known of the hazard. This constructive knowledge usually will be based on the duration of time the dangerous condition was present.
The court concluded that the grocery store could not be liable because the plaintiff did not have knowledge of the length of time the hazard existed prior to the fall. While this might sometimes be proven with security camera footage, witness testimony, or store maintenance records, this knowledge requirement imposes a difficult obstacle for customers, suppliers, and others who slip or trip in grocery stores.
While this decision is from another jurisdiction, Florida law imposes a similar requirement of actual or constructive knowledge of the owner or occupant of commercial property. The grocery store authorized the watermelon tasting, so the supermarket owner was in a unique position to take precautions, learn of the hazard, and implement remedial measures. Unfortunately, this aspect of Florida law shifts the burden of establishing the length of time a hazard existed on the property to an unsuspecting shopper who is not nearly as well situated to anticipate and avoid the hazard.
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While the process of pursuing a slip and fall claim for a fall in a grocery store is challenging, legal representation by an experienced attorney provides an advantage when navigating these types of legal obstacles. Our Miami personal injury lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano will tenaciously pursue the fullest financial compensation. For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida. We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our skill and dedication have earned us an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.