Earlier this year, a new Florida law took effect with significant consequences for people who are injured as the result of slip-and-fall accidents. The new law makes it more difficult for those who are injured while on the premises of a business to obtain fair compensation for their injuries.

With the new law, those injured by slipping or tripping and falling will have to prove the business knew or should have known about the hazardous condition causing the fall, and that the business failed to remedy the situation. Although many business owners celebrate this change, many who represent injured people are concerned that this shift will leave seriously injured people with limited legal recourse.

The Evolution of Slip-and-Fall Lawsuits

Under the traditional common law rule, businesses that opened their premises to the public owed their visitors a broad duty of care. Businesses were expected to make the property safe for guests, conducting a reasonable search for potential hazards and warning guests of hazards that could not be remedied.

Many states have retained this duty of care. It assumes that the business owners have a greater opportunity to recognize the dangers on the property than visitors, and that they have an obligation to address these dangers, since presumably they want customers to enter the premises.

In Florida, the law used to be slightly different than the common law rule. An injured person simply had to demonstrate that he or she was injured by an out-of-place substance, such as a puddle. Much like the common law standard, though, this placed the burden on business owners to maintain the integrity of the property. Businesses were expected to keep the aisles clear and take care of any hazards promptly.

In addition to placing the burden of maintaining a safe environment on the business, both of these standards give businesses incentive to fully investigate following an accident. Florida businesses could examine the situation and determine what happened; with the threat of a potential lawsuit, the businesses had incentive to investigate.

Changes to Florida Slip-and-Fall Law Place Burden on the Injured

Under the new law, the burden of proving what happened shifts to the injured person. The problem is that when someone has fallen and becomes seriously injured, that person is likely to be focused on getting medical attention - not collecting the names of witnesses and documenting the incident. An injured person is not in a position to effectively examine the situation.

Unfortunately, though, this is the current standard in Florida. Accordingly, it is more important than ever that those who are injured understand the most effective ways to protect their rights and interests. Speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to discuss your potential legal remedies following a slip and fall accident.

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