Retailers and lawmakers are making too big a deal out of a new law that went into effect July 1, which requires a South Florida injury lawyer to prove that a business knew or should have known about a dangerous condition that resulted in a slip and fall accident.
Lawyers and Settlements reports that Florida had been among the best places to try such cases, because an attorney for a fall victim needed only to prove that the accident happened — not that a business knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. Samantha Hunter Padgett, an attorney for the Florida Retail Association, told the Naples Daily News that the new law puts both sides on an “equal footing.”
“The burden was on the defendant to prove they had maintained the premises in a safe condition,” Padgett said. “Cases will still move forward and go to court. They still have to prove the premises had a duty to them and failed.”
In reality, customers trip or slip on business property because of an unsafe condition. In just about every instance, a business or property owner either knew, or should have known of the unsafe condition. Wet floors, loose handrails, poor lighting and uneven sidewalks or pavement are frequent causes of fall injuries. Customers are injured all the time because of careless business owners.
And fall injuries are a very real threat to the health and welfare of older adults. Each year, 15,800 older adults die as a result of fall injuries and nearly 2 million are treated in hospital emergency rooms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This is just another attempt to curb the rights of citizens on behalf of big business — Publix Supermarkets was reportedly among the large retailers that pushed for the change in law. Supporters of the new rule, including Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, said slip and fall cases for retailers in the Sunshine State were double the national average.
Apparently, the fact that the Sunshine State is full of older adults was lost on him.