FLORIDA SLIP AND FALL CLAIMS

FLORIDA SLIP AND FALL CLAIMS

Many injury claims are caused by unsafe conditions on both commercial and private property. When someone is injured by a slip and fall on a property, how do Florida courts determine if the owner/occupant of a property is liable? The answer depends on what the injured party was doing on the property. This status dictates the duty of care owed by the owner/occupant. An invitee is a person who is on the owner’s property because they have been led to believe the property is open for their use. An example of an invitee is a visitor to a public place such as a park or a business customer. Likewise a social guest is an invitee. A property owner owes an invitee a duty of care to warn of dangers of which the owner is aware or should be aware and a duty to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. The owner is also responsible, of course, for his intentional actions.

Licensees are persons who enter upon the property of another for their own convenience, benefit or pleasure. This includes uninvited licensees whose presence is tolerated or permitted by the owner of the property. A licensee, for example, might be a person who entered a store to get change for a dollar. The duty of care owed by a property owner to a licensee is to not willfully injure him and to not be wantonly negligent. The owner also has a duty to warn the licensee of any dangers known to the owner which are not readily noticable.

A trespasser is a person who enters the property of another without an invitation or license and who does so for his own self-interest. A property owner owes no duty to a trespasser other than to not intentionally harm him and to warn him of dangerous conditions which are not open and obvious.

Several years ago, I had a client in Destin who visited a convenience store on Highway 98 and Beach Drive. While fueling her car, her feet became tangled in the gas hose and she fell, breaking her ankle. I discovered that the hoses were longer than allowed by regulations and were thus laying on the ground around the pump. Because she was a business invitee, the convenience store breached its duty of care by creating a dangerous condition. The convenience store settled out of court before trial.

Michael Weimorts,

Attorney At Law

Personal Injury Protection Updates Florida

Status of (PIP) Law Challenge

May 8, 2013

 

During the 2012 Florida Legislative Session, substantial changes were made to the state’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance law. The new law provided for determination of an Emergency Medical Condition (EMC) before the insurance carrier would provide coverage of more than $2,500.00. In addition, claimants will not be eligible for coverage unless they are examined by a health care provider within fourteen (14) days of the crash.

Before the effective date of the law on January 1, 2013, several health care providers file suit alleging the law violated the Florida Constitutional provision that guarantees Floridians access to the courts. Judge Terry Lewis, a Tallahassee Circuit Judge, examined the Plaintiffs’ request to enjoin the enforcement of the new insurance scheme. In evaluating the injunction request, Judge Lewis found
1) the Plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction was not issued
2) the Plaintiffs have no adequate remedy at law
3) there is a substantial likelihood the Plaintiffs will succeed on the merits of their case
4) there are no adverse consequences to the public interest if enforcement is enjoined.

The Defendant, Florida’s Insurance Commissioner, immediately appealed the injunction to the First District Court of Appeal (DCA). As such, this state agency was entitled to a stay of the injunction pending review of the injunction by the DCA.

On April 19th, the DCA removed the stay of Judge Lewis’ injunction. This means the original injunction remains in effect. Therefore, pursuant to Judge Lewis’ order, automobile insurance companies are prohibited from requiring a finding of an Emergency Medical Condition as a prerequisite for payment of Personal Injury Protection benefits or that prohibit payment of benefits for services provided by chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists.

Currently, the previous statutory framework regarding payment to chiropractors remains in place. All other provisions of the statute, such as the fourteen (14) day requirement for initiation of treatment, remain in effect.

Michael Weimorts, Attorney At Law