The National Floor Safety Institute (a non-profit dedicated to reduce slips, trips and falls through education, research and development of standards) reports falls account for more than 8 million hospital emergency room visits annually. Bone fractures occur in about 5 percent of all falls, which are a leading cause of missed time off work for laborers and a top cause of death among the elderly.
When one suffers a fall at a store or other place of business, the question of whether a claim for damages is viable will depend on numerous factors, including how obvious the hazard was to whether the store had “notice” (actual or constructive) of it. Slip-and-falls in particular can be tricky because of more stringent standards of proof passed by the legislature in 2010 and codified in F.S. 768.0755.
Recently, a slip-and-fall lawsuit out of Wyoming resulted in a plaintiff getting a second stab at pursuing her case, after a trial court had previously dismissed her claim for failure to state a genuine issue of material fact. The Wyoming Supreme Court disagreed and reversed, remanding the case back to the lower court for trial. That doesn’t mean plaintiff will necessarily win, but summary judgment (which is decided by a judge as a matter of law) is inappropriate for a case where there are unresolved matters of genuine material fact (which are to be decided by a jury).
The case underscores how complicated the simple matter of a fall can be, legally speaking. Continue reading →