A slip and fall case is a personal injury claim made against the property owner (a landowner or business establishment) on the theory of negligence, i.e., the property owner must have breached its duty of care to the injured person. A property owner’s duty of care depends on the circumstances under which a person enters their property. Under Florida law, a business owner owes a duty to use reasonable care in maintaining its premises in a reasonably safe condition. As part of this duty, the business owner must regularly inspect its premises and either warn its visitors of hidden dangers that are unknown to the visitors and cannot be discovered through the exercise of due care or make them safe.
However, mere presence of a foreign substance on the floor is not enough to prove that the business owner failed to keep its premises in a reasonably safe condition. In Florida, the injured person must also prove that the property owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the unsafe condition and had failed to remedy it. Constructive knowledge may be proven by circumstantial evidence that the unsafe condition existed for such a length of time that the business owner should have known of it or the condition occurred with regularity and was foreseeable. Homeowners’ duty of care to friends, family members and others who enter their property for purely social purposes is to warn of known dangers or make them safe. Unlike business owners, they own no duty to inspect.
Finally, all persons entering another person’s property are required to exercise reasonable care for their own safety. If they fall down through their own carelessness, their damages may be reduced by the percentage of their fault.