On January 12, Sarah Hastings was attending a concert by the group known as “Insane Clown Posse.” It is typical of the group to invite attendees on stage. Another common theme to their concerts is to splash soda, known as Faygo in Detroit, which is the hometown of Insane Clown Posse (ICP), around them and on concertgoers. During such as episode, Hastings suffered a slip and fall accident off the concert stage. She has since filed a lawsuit against Signature Security Services (a St. Petersburg-based firm), which is the security company hired for the concert and Knight Global Entertainment (aka Jannus Live). The complaint, filed in Pinellas County, alleges that the staff at Jannus Live did not ensure that the floor was not slippery and that it was, in fact, left in a dangerous condition.
BURDEN OF PROOF
Beginning July 1, 2016, Floridians who were injured in a slip and fall accident have a greater burden of proof. The change to the Florida law was aimed at making cases fairer for both businesses and clients. Acquiring evidence and building a case is, of course, crucial to the potential success of any lawsuit. The new law stipulates that it must be established that a business “knew” or “should have known” about the dangerous condition and failed to correct it. This wording goes beyond “normal” carelessness. The burden of proof is, of course, on the claimant.
TO WIN, A CLAIMANT MUST PROVE FOUR THINGS
Florida’s Statute Section 768.0755 leaves the burden of proof solely on the customer. In the case above, it would be Ms. Hastings, an ICP concertgoer. If you want to proceed with a slip and fall lawsuit, you need to understand the challenges they present in Florida. Although it’s hard to think of at the time, if someone with you when the slip-and-fall happens can capture photos of the scene, they could prove most helpful. A successful claimant must prove four things:
• The business “owed” a legal duty to the consumer.
• The business breached that duty.
• There was a direct relationship between the breach of duty and any sustained injury.
• Injuries were sustained, or damage was done, that was directly caused by the breach of duty.
HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO FILE?
Anyone filing a slip and fall lawsuit in the State of Florida has four years to file against the property owner where the accident occurred. This timeframe applies to almost all personal injury lawsuits that are brought before Florida civil courts.
COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE RULE
Florida laws include a “pure comparative negligence standard.” This is determined when the complainant is also found to share some of the responsibility or negligence for the accident. When that happens, the courts determine percentages as to how much of the blame each party should bear. Any compensation is calculated using this measure. The negligence or responsibility is determined by the courts as to how much you may have contributed to the accident yourself. This rule or standard was adopted by Florida in 1973 with the idea behind it that accidents are rarely black and white; therefore, it can be very likely that both (or all) participants should bear some of the responsibility or blame for the accident. Proving blame can be extremely challenging.
If you have been injured in Saint Petersburg, Florida, or one of the surrounding communities, consult with a personal injury attorney to discuss your options for litigation to receive reimbursement for expenses, including medical and pain and suffering.