Tis’ the season for increased customer traffic in your local stores. Whether it’s a grocery, do-it-yourself hardware, dining, or retail store, or a plethora of other type of establishments –they will be busy. With vacationers visiting Southwest Florida in addition to holiday shopping, local businesses will see an influx of traffic in their businesses. Florida law requires business owners keep their premises in a reasonable safe condition for invitees (patrons) on their property. This means they have to keep the floors free of any dangerous conditions including, but not limited to, debris, liquid or other substance that they know of or should know of. With increased foot traffic throughout your local stores, there is a chance that the dangers of slip and falls on the floors are increased.
If you happen to suffer a trip or slip and fall at a store and are injured, there are some things you need to know in order to protect your right to recover for your injuries and losses. The key to fall down law in Florida, is that the victim must prove the business owner either knew or, or should have known of, the dangerous condition. Absent this, the victim cannot recover for their injuries and losses. So what can you do to protect yourself? First, if you do have a fall you need to try to figure out what it was that you fell on and you need to document it either by photograph or by trying to determine the size, shape, color and other characteristics of the substance and where it came from. Often the best way to prove how long a substance was on a floor is to determine if it looks dirty or if it looks like other patrons have also encountered the substance (look for streaks or foot prints). Obviously there are circumstances where you are not aware of what you fell on and are not able to determine it. This doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a case. That brings me to my second point – hire an attorney experienced in litigating fall down cases. Such an attorney has the ability to know whether there are ongoing issues with certain business in the area and also to do an investigation to determine if there was a dangerous condition that caused you to fall. The earlier you hire an attorney the better. Attorneys can send correspondence to the business asking them to preserve any evidence, including potentially video from the business which could tell the story of your fall.