James W. Ledford P.A.
Florida premises law has recently undergone some radical change. In November of 2001, the Florida Supreme Court changed the way these will be handled. They decided in the Owens vs. Publix case that the existence of a foreign substance on the floor of a business premises that causes a customer to fall and be injured is not a safe condition and the existence of that unsafe condition creates a rebuttable presumption that the premises owner did not maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition.
Thus, once the injured person establishes that he or she fell as a result of a foreign substance, a rebuttable presumption of negligence arises. At that point, the burden shifts to the defendant to show by greater weight of the evidence that it exercised reasonable care in the maintenance of its premises under the circumstances. The circumstances could include the nature and specific hazard of the defendant's business.
Basically, the burden was shifted from the injured party to the defendant to show how long a foreign substance was on the floor. This makes good sense because the premises owners are in a better position to establish that they did or did not maintain the premises in a safe condition and they are generally in a superior position to ascertain what occurred by making an immediate investigation, interviewing witnesses and taking photographs.
In each of these cases, the nature of the defendant's business gives rise to a substantial risk of injury to customers from slip and fall accidents.
38 Years of Accumulated Practice
If you have an Injury Claim, do NOT delay
If you've been in a car, slip and fall or other accident and intend to make a claim, there are several reasons why you must consult an attorney as soon as possible. One reason is there are time limits (called "statutes of limitations") for making claims.
If you wait too long and the statute of limitations passes, you will be prevented from bringing your claim. Courts strictly follow statutes of limitations. Recently, a woman hurt in a car accident made a claim one day after the statute of limitations passed. Even though this was a minor violation, a court dismissed her claim and she could not recover money for her injuries.
Another reason why you should seek legal help immediately is that delay can hurt your case. As time passes, it becomes harder to gather evidence and to find and interview witnesses, who may move or forget the details of your accident. Since waiting can cause your claim to be dismissed or hurt your chances of getting the maximum recovery, seek legal help as soon after an accident as possible.