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Florida Appellate Court Permits Plaintiff’s Slip-and-Fall Lawsuit to Proceed Despite Obviousness of the Hazard that Caused Plaintiff’s Fall

Earlier this month, a Florida appellate court issued a written opinion in a slip-and-fall case, reversing the lower court’s decision to grant the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The case required the court determine if a plaintiff can still recover for injuries under a premises liability theory where the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s fall was “obvious.” The court determined that in such cases, summary judgment in favor of the defense is not appropriate.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a customer of the defendant bank who visited the bank to make a deposit through the drive-thru window. When she arrived, the bank was closed, so she decided to make the deposit at the bank’s outdoor ATM. However, the area around the ATM was under construction. The plaintiff testified that there was a sign in front of the ATM with an arrow to go around the barricade. However, when she walked around the barricade she stepped into a “pot hole,” falling to the ground. As a result of her fall, the plaintiff fractured her foot and leg, and injured her neck and back.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the bank, as well as the construction companies that were responsible for completing the work around the ATM. The plaintiff made two claims: first, that the bank was liable under a failure-to-warn theory, and second, that the bank was liable under a failure-to-maintain theory.

During a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, the bank claimed that pot hole the plaintiff stepped in was obvious, and that the bank should not be liable under the “obvious danger doctrine.” The obvious danger doctrine discharges a landowner’s liability for injuries that occur on their property due to open and obvious hazards. The trial court agreed and granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

The Plaintiff Succeeds on Appeal

On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s granting of summary judgment. The appellate court explained that the fact that the hazard may have been obvious does not discharge a landowner’s duty to maintain his property. The court explained that, even if the hole was obvious at the time of the plaintiff’s fall, there are still unanswered questions. For example, how long was the pot hole present, and did the bank know of its presence.

Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled injury attorneys at the South Florida law firm of Cecere Santana have extensive experience in all types of personal injury law, including premises liability cases. Call 800-753-5529 to schedule your free consultation today. Calling is free and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to help you collect for your injuries.

More Blog Posts:

$9.3 million Verdict Awarded to Victim in Motorcycle Accident, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 9, 2017.

Failure to Follow Procedural Rules May Result in Delay or Dismissal of Florida Personal Injury Cases, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 2, 2017.

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