Proving liability for slipping on transitory foreign substances

Slips and falls are often the result of dangerous conditions that a business owner or operator, or the staff of a business, overlook or ignore. Accidents that involve transitory foreign substances could occur in malls, hotels, retail shops, restaurants and nightclubs. It may be difficult to prove that a business should be held liable for the hazard, but Florida law stipulates that the plaintiff must show proof if they seek injury compensation.

According to premises liability legislation, an injured plaintiff has to prove that the owner or operator of the business establishment actually knew or constructively knew that a transitory foreign substance was present on the premises and that they should have done something to remedy the hazard. To prove constructive knowledge, the plaintiff needs to have evidence that the hazard occurred regularly and was predictable or that the hazard was present for so long that the owner or operator should have reasonably known about it through the task of premises maintenance.

For example, a roof leak in part of a retail shop may cause a puddle on the floor every time it rains. The puddle of water could be considered a transitory foreign substance because it does not belong on the floor of a retail shop. If the owner or operator of the shop, or the employees who tend to the daily maintenance, do not either clean the puddle of water or put up signs around the area to warn customers of the slip-and-fall risk, customers who do slip and fall could seek compensation if they are injured.

Injured plaintiffs could seek the assistance of lawyers to help them prove their cases. Lawyers may work with investigators to uncover evidence that a business owner or operator did not address a known hazard. They might also ask medical and safety experts to testify on the seriousness of the slip-and-fall injuries that plaintiffs suffered.

SourceOnline Sunshine, “768.0755 Premises liability for transitory foreign substances in a business establishment.“, October 13, 2014