Florida’s Transitory Substance Law
In Florida, property owners are required to take certain steps to ensure that their premises are in a reasonably safe condition for invited visitors, to repair any dangerous conditions that do exist, and to warn visitors of hazards on the premises. Property owners who fail to fulfill these obligations can be held liable in the event of a slip and fall accident. In many slip and fall cases, the cause of the accident involves a wet, or transitory (non-permanent) spill on the floor that the owner or its employees failed to clean up in time. In fact, because these kinds of accidents are so common, Florida lawmakers passed a specific statute that applies in these cases.
What is a Transitory Substance?
According to the Florida Supreme Court, a transitory foreign substance is any liquid, or solid substance, object, or item that is located somewhere that it doesn’t belong. Under Florida law, when someone suffers a slip and fall accident on such a substance, they have to take certain steps to prove that the property owner was negligent. This includes the requirement of proving that the business had either actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition. Actual knowledge exists when the property owner saw or was told of the spill prior to the accident. Constructive knowledge, on the other hand, doesn’t require such direct proof, but can be established by demonstrating that:
- The dangerous condition existed for enough time that the property owner would have discovered it if he or she had been exercising the proper degree of care; or
- The condition occurred with such regularity that it was foreseeable.
Basically, this means that any time someone slips and falls on an object that was temporarily dropped on the floor, the injured party will need to prove that the spill was there long enough that it should have been discovered and cleaned, or that such spills happened all the time.
Proving a Dangerous Condition
Because of their transitory nature, proving that a spill caused a slip and fall accident can be difficult, as the substance quickly gets cleaned up and property owners often fail to investigate how long the spill existed. Furthermore, many property owners simply fail to keep records of when they clean the different areas on the premises. Often, by the time an accident victim hires a slip and fall attorney, evidence of the accident may have disappeared. Fortunately, there are steps that slip and fall victims can take to improve their chances of success when filing a claim, including:
- Finding direct evidence of the fall by obtaining security camera footage;
- Speaking with eyewitnesses who saw the spill, or the accident, occur;
- Assessing photographs of the scene of the accident; and
- Obtaining the property owner’s report of the accident.
To learn more about how an experienced attorney can help with your case, reach out to our dedicated legal team today.
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If you slipped and fell on a spill that was on someone else’s property, you may be facing significant medical bills and lost wages. When you work with the dedicated Tampa slip and fall lawyers at Anderson & Anderson, we can help you understand your legal rights. To get started on your case, call 813-251-0072 today.