Once a plaintiff files a slip-and-fall lawsuit, the defendant will be given the opportunity to defend in court, and normally does so by filing an Answer to the Complaint. It is normal for a defendant in this type of action to deny fault, including whether or not the accident occurred on its premises, or how the accident occurred. For example, if your accident involved a liquid substance on the floor that caused you to fall, the defendant could challenge your allegations by denying that any substance was ever on the floor, and request that the court grant a summary judgment in its favor.
A summary judgment is a court ordered judgment against a party summarily without going to trial, and may be granted based upon the merits of the case. There are various reasons why a party may move for a summary judgment, however, some of the most common include avoiding the time and expense of going to trial, eliminate the risk of losing at trial, or when the outcome of a trial appears obvious. When a judge issues a summary judgment, the parties will be no need to a full trial, because the fact finder has determined that based upon the merits of the case, there are no disputes of material facts. In Laidlaw v. The Krystal Co. [53 So. 3d 1128 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011)], the District Court of Appeals of Florida, First District, held that a summary judgment should be entered only when there is no genuine issue as to material fact, even the slightest doubt as to the existence of such a question precluding summary judgment.
So, what could qualify as general issues to material fact? In a recent Florida personal injury negligence action, the plaintiff Agnes Doran sued defendant Florida S.E. Inc., d/b/a Red Lobster, A Florida Corporation for damages she incurred as a result of a slip-and-fall accident . The plaintiff alleged that she slipped and fell on the bathroom floor located on the defendant’s premises. The defendant contended that the floor was not wet and that there was no evidence of a wet floor that caused the plaintiff to fall. And, one of the defendant’s employees claimed that the plaintiff blamed the fall on her shoes. However, the plaintiff contended that she did not blame the fall on her shoes, but believed that the floor was wet, although she did not observe any water on the bathroom floor, before or after her accident. The trial court granted defendant’s summary judgment and the plaintiff appealed. Although the court determined that whether or not the plaintiff slipped-and-fell on the premises was not an issue; because apparently she did slip-and-fall, the issue was whether or not the trial court erred by granting the defendant’s motion for summary judgment due to what cause the plaintiff to fall. In other words, given that there were disputed facts which were material in this case, the trial court was incorrect to grant defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The court reversed and remanded. However, this court’s decision is not final until the time expires to file motion for rehearing and its disposition.
If you have suffered a Fort Lauderdale slip-and-fall injury, you should contact an attorney to discuss all the circumstances of your case. Be prepared to provide to give a description of the location of your fall, including whether not warning signs were posted at the location, in addition to taking notes of any items may have been on your shoes.
Our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys help those who have been seriously injured or hurt during one of these accidents and can provide you with legal advice and the types of legal remedies which may be available.
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