Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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What is the one thing you notice when you go shopping at any Target store? The shiny floors and it isn’t a coincidence. At the highest corporate levels of Target, a decision was made to sacrifice consumer safety in favor of bright clean look that would entice customers to shop at Target.

Target home offices are located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There are more than 1700 Target stores in the United States. In a recent case in South Florida, Target’s procedures and policies were placed under a microscope and the results are disturbing.

The documents and testimony in the commercial premises liability case against Target conclusively demonstrated that Target instituted a company-wide policy of maintaining “WET LOOK” floors. In furtherance of this policy, Target specifically choose certain types of tiles and mandated specific waxing/cleaning procedures. In addition, Target incorporated lighting choices to enhance the bright shiny look of the stores.

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stairs-a18941Most of us have ordered the specials at our favorite Chinese restaurant. You get to pick and choose from a variety of choices. Usually you pick a soup from column A. Then another choice  for appetizer from Column B. Then yet another choice for the main course from Column C. You get to pick and choose. In a premises liability trial, the defense will usually present a Chinese menu of defenses and offer the jury a variety of ways to deny the injured person a full, fair and complete recovery. The Miami Premises Liability Lawyers at the Wolfson Law Firm deal with these defenses everyday.

A premises liability trial is usually filed against a property owner for injuries and damages. The types of premises liability cases can include slip and fall, trip and fall or negligent security. The defenses are stated in the defendant’s answer to the complaint. These defenses often include:

  • The plaintiff was intoxicated and therefore he/she cannot recover
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Filing a Slip and Fall Claim in Miami without an Attorney

First things first. You are not required to have a Miami slip and fall attorney to file a claim for injuries from a slip and fall case. You can represent yourself. You cannot represent someone else unless you are licensed attorney in that jurisdiction. If you do try to represent someone else, you could be criminally liable for practicing law without a license.

Next, you need to decide if you want to represent yourself. If you do, you need to understand what you are up against. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, there are certain things you should know about slip and fall accidents including what to do after a slip and fall accident in Miami. If you were injured on a business owner’s property such as a mall, retail store, restaurant, boutique or supermarket then you need to think it through. Business owners are not likely to just give you money because you might have been hurt on their premises.

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personal-injury-lawyer-300x168A Miami jury split the fault in a Miami premises liability personal injury case involving a shopping cart. The plaintiff claimed Home Depot was negligent because it allowed a threshold to exist which caught a shopping cart the plaintiff was pushing. When the cart got stuck, it jerked back and struck the plaintiff . He seriously injured his neck and back as well as his shoulder. The jury awarded approximately $328,000 which was reduced by the 50/50 finding of the jury.

Generally, a property owner owes two duties to an invitee. First it owes the duty to use reasonable care in maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition. Second, the property owner has the duty to warn of concealed or latent hazards or dangers which the owner knows about, or should have known about. The hidden dangers must also be unknown to the invitee. Finally the concealed hazard is not discoverable through the exercise of due care. A property’s owner may be discharged of the duty to warn when the hazard is open and obvious. But  even with open and obvious hazards the landowner continues to have the duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition.

The injured plaintiff must generally prove that the property owner had constructive or actual notice of the dangerous condition. A property owner, like Home Depot, can be held liable for injuries and damages if the hazardous condition existed for a sufficient period of time to charge the premises owner with constructive knowledge. Constructive knowledge can be inferred, or assessed, if a hazardous condition existed for long enough that in the exercise of reasonable care the concealed or latent hazard should have been known to the premises owner.

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You have to take the stairs. You have no option. The stairs are damaged and you try your best. You fall and you are seriously injured. You aren’t sure what happened or even why. You just know that you are really hurt and don’t know what to do. Is the building owner responsible? Even if you cannot testify to exactly what made you fall? The answer is yes.

Accident report

In the premises liability case of Christakis v. Tivioli Terrace LLC, the Fourth District Court of Appeal held that it was an error for the trial court to enter a directed verdict in favor of the defendant where there was conflicting evidence as to causation. In this case, the plaintiff could not testify to what made her fall. However she did produce evidence in the form of photographs and expert testimony that the stairs were damaged. The Court ruled that the plaintiff was not building inference upon inference because the damaged stairs were proven fact through the photos and testimony. As such there was a conflict in the evidence which should be left to a jury to decide.


If you are injured on public or governmental property or private property, you should contact a qualified personal injury lawyer. It will be vitally important to secure critical evidence to support your claim including but not limited to:

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If you slip and fall at Publix, Target, Walmart or most large retailers, chances are your fall was videotaped by a store surveillance system. You probably think this is a good thing because then everyone can see what happened. Not so fast.

Miami Injury lawyer


Most major retailers have closed circuit video surveillance systems for two main reasons. First is theft prevention. The second, and equally important to the retailer, is to defend against premises liability claims. Under the current law, these stores typically object to producing the video until AFTER the claimant has testified under oath and that decision rests with the trial judge.



The decisions on the issue have evolved over the years. Originally the Florida Supreme Court said that defendants could withhold video surveillance tapes until after the plaintiff testified. The video in question was taken after the accident occurred and while the claim was pending. This is the type of video taken by the private investigator hiding in the bushes.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control, every year, slip and fall injuries cost Americans close to $34 billion for medical and hospital expenses. Older adults are more prone to the most serious injuries resulting from slip and falls, though individuals at any age can suffer broken bones, head trauma, or other injuries as a result of a slip and fall. When falls occur, there is a 20% chance that the fall will result in a serious injury. The CDC reports that falls can cause brain injury, wrist fractures, ankle fractures, and hip fractures. These injuries can lead to lifestyle changes, result in missed time at work, and may make it difficult for some individuals to live independently.


Traumatic brain injuries resulting from slip and falls can be particularly pernicious. In some cases, it can take a while before patients experience the full range of symptoms of a head injury. Insomnia, memory loss, vision problems, changes in mood, and dizziness can all be symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury. Slip and fall victims may not be immediately aware that these changes can be linked back to their accident. This is why it is important for slip and fall victims to follow up with physicians following release from the hospital and to make sure that they are tested properly for all symptoms.

Some slip and fall victims may experience post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their accident. They may avoid situations similar to the circumstances leading to their fall. This can lead to major disruptions in life activities. Older adults are most prone to suffer following a slip and fall because their injuries—psychological and physical—are more likely to result in a more sedentary lifestyle. A slip and fall accident can affect an elderly adult’s health years after it takes place and can even shave off years from a person’s life.

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If something fell on you, and you got hurt, it might be hard to prove someone else’s negligence caused that problem.  For example, maybe someone stocked a shelf and then left an item really close to the edge, too close.  Then, when someone lightly bumped the shelf, it fell on you.  But how do you know they stocked the shelf wrong?  Now this may or not be an instance where this applies, but, sometimes, the thing speaks for itself.  And this is called the legal doctrine of “res ipsa loquitur”. 

Danger Falling Objects Warning Sign Isolated, black drop triangle over yellow, large macro

Danger Falling Objects Warning Sign Isolated, black drop triangle over yellow, large macro

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Young woman falling on wet floor

Young woman falling on wet floor

Ever wonder how to win your Miami slip and fall injury case?

The law in years past has vacillated in slip and fall cases in business establishments involving water or other similar transitory substances.  For the past several years, actual or constructive notice has been the requirement. And, in a recent case, the Third District Court of Appeals dismissed a Plaintiff’s claim because, as they said, the “record here is devoid of any evidence suggesting that the Appellees had any notice—either actual or constructive—of the water on the floor.”

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Slip and fall cases are hard.  And, summary judgment is very difficult at times to avoid.  This is due to the relatively new statutes.  But if the Court lets defendant’s argue evidence that was not filed, well that makes it even more difficult.  Recently, the Fourth DCA corrected a trial court that allowed evidence to be presented during a Summary Judgment Motion that was not filed in accordance with the rule.  In fact, that evidence was relied upon in the trial court’s ruling on the slip and fall case.  The ruling, actually, dismissed the case because the Plaintiff was found to be an undiscovered trespasser.


The Fourth District Court of Appeals recently reversed a trial court’s ruling granting summary judgment for the defendant in a slip-and-fall case when it came to the issue of allowing deposition testimony that was not attached to the motion, pretrial filings, or the record of appeal. In Denniser v. Columbia Hospital Corporation of South Broward d/b/a Westside Medical Center, 39 Fla. L. Weekly D990a, the appeals court would not conclude that Denniser was an “undiscovered trespasser” in the hospital pantry because the only evidence Columbia brought and relied on was deposition testimony where Denniser said she did not see anybody before she fell, which was not attached or admitted into evidence.

In doing so, the 4th DCA cited Servedio v. U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n, 46 So. 3d 1105, 1107 (Fla 4th DCA 2010) to assert that “a trial court’s order for summary judgment must be reversed when there is no sworn evidence, in the record, to support that motion.” So although there is relevant testimony to support Columbia Hospital’s motion for summary judgment, procedural and evidentiary rules preclude admissibility of the statement and left a gaping genuine issue of material fact to be resolved by a jury.

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