What Kind of Tort is a Slip and Fall?

Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley
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Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley

A slip and fall injury, also known as a “slip or trip and fall” injury, is a particular type of personal injury tort, caused by a person slipping (or tripping) and falling on the property of another and, as a result, suffering an injury. This particular type of personal injury tort claim is known as a “premises liability” claim.

Slip and Fall Injuries in Florida

Liability for slip, trip, and fall injuries may arise based upon a defendant’s ownership of the premises where the injury occurred, their control of the premises, or both. For example, a grocery store owner or manager may be liable for a slip and fall injury that occurs in the store, or premises, even though the store merely rents the space, because the store owner or manager has exclusive control of the interior of the rented property. 

The owner of the premises, or landlord, may have sole or shared liability for an injury that occurs outside of the store’s exclusive premises, such as the injury from a fall on the sidewalk or in the parking lot of a shopping mall.

Establishing a Slip and Fall Claim

To successfully establish a slip and fall premises liability claim in Florida, you must prove the following elements:

  • That the property owner or manager owed you a duty of care
  • That the property owner or manager breached this duty of care owed to you
  • That you, as the plaintiff, suffered injuries
  • That the defendant’s breach caused your injuries

The “duty of care” element changes according to the reason you are on the property, either:

  • Invitees. Invitees are people who enter onto another’s property for some legitimate business purpose; for example, business customers.
  • Licensees. Licensees are people who enter onto another’s property with permission for a social purpose; for example, house guests or social guests.
  • Trespassers. Trespassers are those that enter onto another’s property without permission.

Defenses for Slip and Fall Claims

Property owners/managers have two primary defenses to slip and fall claims:

  • Lack of Negligence. The defendant may argue that they were not negligent in creating the dangerous condition or were not negligent in correcting the condition before the injury occurred. For example, a grocery store owner may claim that a milk spill that a customer slipped on occurred only moments ago by another customer and that a typical store owner acting with reasonable care would not have had time to discover the danger and take steps to eliminate the danger.
  • Lack of Fault. The defendant may argue that the injured person was responsible for his or her injury. For example, any reasonable customer, exercising due diligence for their safety, would see a milk spill on the floor and simply avoid the spill.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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