A Florida restaurant’s negligence may cause your injury. If so, you may have a personal injury case.
What are the most common types of accidents that result in injury claims against Florida restaurants?
Slips, trips and falls are the most common claims by guests at Florida restaurants. A restaurant insurance company took a study of claims in the US made by insured restaurants.
The average expense of each claim was over $3,500. Those claims include guest and worker injury claims. That study was not specific to Florida.
Another study revealed the customer falls made up over 55% of restaurant liability insurance claims.
Why are there so many slip, trips and falls at Florida restaurants and bars?
Guests may not familiar with the premises liability. If you tripped and fell at a restaurant to which you been there before, an adjuster may reduce the value of the case. The insurer may argue that you should have known about the dangerous condition because you had been to the restaurant before the fall.
Does dim lighting at a Florida restaurant affect the case?
It may. Many restaurants have dim lighting to make it more appealing. But dim lighting may increase the risk of slip, trip and falls.
A patron may slip or trip on a hazard and falls. If the lighting was dim, the victim’s case may be stronger.
Restaurant Floors and Cleaning
Cleaning up Spills
A restaurant employee may notice a hazard on the floor. If so, the restaurant should quickly place a wet floor sign there.
If a cone is not used, there are bright-colored pads that can be put on top of the spill. Restaurant employees will be aware that the area needs to be cleaned. Customers will know to lookout for a spill if they see the pads.
Mats in a restaurant are to help the restaurant be safer. The restaurant still needs to make sure that the floors are safe. Restaurants still need to clean any food or spills on the floor.
Mats at the entrance to the restaurant should not overlap. The same is true for mats in the dining area.
After a fall, the injured person should take pictures of any mats from several angles. The victim should also take pictures showing the layout of the restaurant.
Rubber, non-slip, anti-fatigue, grease proof mats are used where food spills commonly occur. This includes next to a salad bar.
Some anti-fatigue mats do not absorb liquid. If so, they should not be placed next to a soda station. This is because spills will move off the mat and onto the floor.
Carpet mats should be used next to a drink station. If carpet mats are used, they should cover the entire length of the soda station.
Olefin Fiber Mats
Olefin fiber mats are good for customer drink stations. Spills may occur there. A guest can claim that a restaurant that does not have an olefin fiber mat at a drink station is negligent.
Wiper (Scraper) Mats
Restaurant safety experts recommend wiper (scraper) mats for areas going from the kitchen to the dining area. A restaurant patron may slip on grease and fall.
The victim should take pictures of any wiper/scraper mats that were used. If mats were not used, the victim should take pictures showing that mats were not present.
The injured person may claim that the restaurant was careless by not using mats leading from the kitchen to the dining area.
In the above picture, footprints are in the kitchen area. There are also foot prints in the walkway from the kitchen to the restaurant dining area.
The injured victim should take pictures of these footprints. They may show that employees were tracking grease from the kitchen into the dining area.
Take pictures from many angles. It will help the restaurant’s insurance claims adjuster (or jury) get a good idea of the entire accident scene.
Stepping on broken tile and falling
A restaurant may have broken tile outside of its entrance. It may look like the broken tile in the above picture.
The restaurant may be negligent for failing to fix the hazard. It may also be liable for failing to warn guests of this hazard.
The restaurant may or may not own the property. The restaurant and the property owner will likely have insurance.
The insurance claims adjuster may place blame on a customer for not seeing walking around the broken tile.
In the picture above, the color of the missing tile is white which contrasts with the surrounding flooring. This makes the injured person’s case tougher.
The yellow pole is next to the broken tile. The yellow pole is very visible. The insurance restaurant’s adjuster will argue that the a guest should not be walking next to the yellow pole.
The insurance adjuster will argue that the customer should have noticed the broken tile because it is right next to a highly visible pole. The injured person’s case may be worth less if he fell while exiting the restaurant.
This is because the adjuster will argue that the claimant should have seen the broken tile when entering the restaurant. Thus, the adjuster may argue that the restaurant had no duty to warn the claimant.
Unsecured beach umbrella strikes you
You could be at a beachside restaurant or bar in Florida. The restaurant could fail to secure its umbrella. It could strike you.
Expect the restaurant to argue that the umbrella did not have a strong enough force to cause a cervical disc herniation. Cervical refers to the neck area.
In cervical herniated disc cases, if you are in your thirties or older the restaurant may argue that your neck injury is degenerative, and pre-existed the accident.
If you get medical treatment at a clinic that only treats patients who have personal injury lawsuits, expect the restaurant to use this to hurt the clinic’s credibility.
The above facts of this beach umbrella case are from the case (not mine) of Garafelo v. Pinchers Beach Bar & Grill Inc. The accident occurred in Lee County, Florida.
The jury returned a defense verdict in March 2015. The injured lady was not awarded any money.
I do not know if she had an attorney. Going to trial in a personal injury case without an attorney is virtually a guaranteed loss.
How do you know if you have an injury case against a Florida restaurant?
This is not a cut and dry answer. Over 86 factors may affect whether you have a Florida restaurant accident case. I will discuss some of these factors further below.
Which injuries are the subject of most Florida restaurant accident claims?
All the settlements in this article are before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.
My client was a guest at a Denny’s restaurant. It was in North Miami Beach, Dade County, Florida. He got up from the booth. While doing so, the booth tipped in the air.
He had two surgeries to repair his wrist fracture. In the second surgery, hardware was inserted. He took a video which showed that the booth was like a see-saw. This helped the claim.
Facial Injuries (Cuts, Lacerations and more)
Some restaurant guests suffer cuts to their face when they slip or trip and fall. Sometimes they require stitches.
My client tripped on a vinyl landscaping edge that was sticking out into the sidewalk. A picture of the hazard is below.
The accident happened while she was leaving the restaurant. Below is a photo taken from further away.
I settled the case for $18,000.
Liability for Criminal Acts of Third Parties
Actual Case (not mine): Levitz v. Burger King Corp., 526 So. 2d 1048, 1049 (Fla. 3d DCA 1988).
At approximately 12:15 A.M., Stanley Levitz bought a drink at a Burger King restaurant drive-through window. This BK was located in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Some of the people who were congregating in the restaurant parking lot shouted comments about his car.
Thinking that he recognized a person in the group, he drove over and stepped out of his car; he was severely injured during an altercation with Richard Darren Sleter. Levitz sued Burger King Corporation to recover damages for injuries he alleged he sustained as a result of Burger King’s negligence.
He argued that Burger King breached its duty to use reasonable care to protect business invitees from the foreseeable danger of an injurious attack occurring on its premises.
Burger King contended that it lacked actual or constructive knowledge of the particular risk and had no reasonable opportunity to protect Levitz. Burger King asserted that Levitz failed to present evidence that Burger King had notice of dangerous incidents involving its invitees and thus could not establish that Burger King breached its duty to Levitz.
Levitz submitted depositions and an affidavit which provided sufficient evidence of the existence of unresolved factual issues, including the foreseeability of the attack in the restaurant parking lot.
The appeals court let the man continue his lawsuit. The injured man had a Miami lawyer.
Learn about a $1.5 Million verdict against Mcdonald’s for man who is killed in parking lot. This not my case.
Restaurants have a duty to make the premises safe. They have a duty to provide security if the restaurant is in a high crime area.
How does a Florida restaurant injury case compare to a case against Publix Supermarket, Walmart or Walt Disney World?
Most aspects are similar. The same is true if the case was against a Florida Walmart or Walt Disney World. However, there are additional theories of liability in restaurant accident cases. These include grease tracking and other theories.
Unlike Publix, many Florida restaurants are fully insured. In most restaurant injury claims, an insurer pays the settlement. Some restaurants are individually owned and operated.
Larger restaurant chains have a self-insured retention (SIR). But some of these larger restaurant chains have franchisees. The franchisees are most likely fully insured.
A restaurant may be fully insured. If so, you may have some additional leverage. Sometimes insurers do not act fairly.
You can file a consumer complaint or civil remedy notice. You usually do not have those options if the claim is against a self-insured restaurant.
Further below I talk about which larger restaurant chains may be self insured.
How do I calculate how much a Florida restaurant injury claim is worth?
It takes years of experience. You first figure out the full value of the damages. Decrease that amount by the percentage chance that a jury will find the restaurant not negligent. Reduce that amount by the percentage of the victim’s fault, if any.
Can a Florida restaurant employee make a personal injury claim?
A Florida restaurant employee has a workers compensation claim if he or she was injured on the job. The restaurant employee may also have a personal injury claim against a third party.
John is working at McDonald’s in Miami, Florida. A third party vendor sends a delivery person to the McDonald’s restaurant to drop off products.
Products could be soda, napkins, ketchup and/or many other items. John is not aware that this delivery is being made.
The delivery person leaves items on the floor. John does not know that the items are on the floor.
John trips on a box and is hurt. He herniates a disc in his lower back or neck. He has his discs fused.
If the doctor gives John a permanent impairment rating, John will get money based upon an impairment rating. A higher rating generally increases the payout for impairment.
He also may make a personal injury claim against the third party vendor.
The Defendant’s Defenses
The third party vendor/contractor may have several defenses. They may argue that it was reasonable and/or customary for it to leave these products on the floor.
The defendant may place blame on John. They may argue that:
- John should have seen the box before he tripped on it.
- John is wholly, or partially, at fault for not using more care while he was walking.
- If John was using a reasonable amount of care, he would not have been injured.
Comparative negligence of Florida restaurant who is not a party to the lawsuit
A Florida restaurant who contributed to the employee’s injuries may be immune from suit or bankrupt. If so, the restaurant’s percentage of fault is still weighed and decided by a jury.
If the a Florida restaurant is immune from suit because of the worker’s compensation law, the restaurant’s degree of comparative negligence must still be shown and the defendant’s liability reduced by that amount. Allied-Signal, Inc. v. Fox, 623 So. 2d 1180 (Fla. 1993).
As time passes after the third party vendor/contractor leaves, the full value of the employee’s case may decrease. A restaurant has a duty to inspect the premises.
More blame may be placed on the restaurant for not fixing the hazard or failure to warn. If a box is left on the floor for 5 hours and the restaurant manager does not move it, more blame is placed on a restaurant.
Less blame is placed on the company who left it there. Let’s look at Example #1 again.
Assume that a jury’s breakdown of fault is:
- The restaurant is 33% at fault for not removing the box from the floor.
- John is 33% at fault for not being more careful at the time of his accident.
- The third party vendor is 34% at fault for placing the box on the floor, or not warning the restaurant about the box.
I am picking these percentages at random. The actual percentages depend on the unique facts of each case.
The combined negligence of the restaurant and John is 66% (33% + 33%). Even though the restaurant is not a party to the personal injury case, John’s damages will be reduced by 67%.
In this case, John wants little blame to be placed on the restaurant. John’s compensation decreases as the jury’s blame on the restaurant increases.
You can see how some Florida restaurant employee personal injury cases may be difficult.
Workers Compensation Lien
When workers compensation pays benefits, it has a right to recover them from the employee’s personal injury case. Florida law allows the claimant to get the workers compensation lien reduced by his attorney’s fees and costs.
If a restaurant employee is injured on the job and also has a personal injury claim, he benefits by having an attorney. Florida law also allows the court to consider any other equitable factors when reducing the lien. Manfredo v. Employer’s Cas. Ins. Co., 560 So. 2d 1162 – Fla: Supreme Court 1990.
Who are some possible defendant’s in a Florida restaurant employee personal injury case?
- an AC repair company who is there to fix an AC leak
- an electrician
- a plumber
- a fountain soda machine repair company
- a contractor who is fixing
- a refrigerator or cooler repair company
- a deep-frying machine maintenance company
How do restaurant injury claims compare to claims with State Farm Insurance?
State Farm is the leading US personal lines property/casualty company (by premiums). However, I do not believe that State Farm does not insures Florida restaurants.
This can be good for injured victims. This is because State Farm is below average at paying injury claims. Restaurant injury claims are similar to claims against State Farm.
However, there are differences. State Farm usually has low limits of bodily injury coverage in its Florida auto policies. Most Florida restaurants have high limits of commercial general liability (CGL) coverage.
Therefore, a car accident case against State Farm may settle faster than a Florida restaurant injury claim. State Farm may want to settle the claim to avoid excess financial exposure.
Where can I find some past Florida restaurant accident verdicts and settlements?
You can subscribe to a jury verdict report. A few examples are Westlaw, Lexis, Florida Jury Verdict Reporter. There are many more as well.
Below is a Florida restaurant accident case.
Actual Case (not mine): $425,000 Verdict for a lady who was allegedly a customer at a Steak n Shake restaurant. The case was heard in the United States District Court (Middle District) in Florida.
She sued Steak N’ Shake Operations. The customer claimed that the mayonnaise on the floor caused her to slip and fall.
She claimed that Steak N’ Shake failed to:
- Keep the restaurant reasonably safe
- Warn her of the dangerous condition
I do not know:
- How the mayonnaise got on the floor
- The nature of the customer’s injury
- The percentage of fault, if any, that was placed on the customer
Steak N’ Shake defended the case by claiming that:
- The guest failed to mitigate her damages.
- It did not have knowledge of the alleged hazard.
- The condition was open and obvious.
The jury awarded her:
The verdict was in 2015.
She sued for compensation for her bodily injury and/or aggravation of a pre-existing condition, medical expenses, loss of ability to earn money, pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, and loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life.
Steak N’ Shake used a Tallahassee lawyer to defend the case. The restaurant patron had a Ocala lawyer.
Actual Case (not mine): In Vallot v. Logan’s Roadhouse, Inc., the district (trial) court granted summary judgment in favor of Logan’s Roadhouse, Inc. in Vallot’s slip and fall lawsuit. Logan appealed (without an attorney).
In Vallot v. Logan’s Roadhouse, Inc. 567 F. App’x 723, 726 (11th Cir. 2014), the appeals court stated that Vallot testified in his deposition that he did not know if he saw a greasy substance, how the substance came to be on the floor, what caused the substance to be on the floor, whether any Logans employee knew the substance was on the floor, or who spilled the substance on the floor.
He did not know whether the substance was there one minute before he fell. An affidavit from the bartender who was working at the time of the fall attested that he passed through the area frequently and observed the area less than 30 minutes prior to the fall.
He did not observe any liquid, oil, greasy substance, or peanuts on the floor at that time. After the fall, he helped Vallot to his feet and did not see any liquid, oil, greasy substance, or peanuts on the floor.
He wiped the floor with a rag in the area where Vallot fell and determined that there was no liquid, oil, or greasy substance on the floor.
Logan was required to show evidence of the basic elements of negligence, which are: (1) duty, (2) breach of duty, (3) injury arising from the breach, and (4) damages caused by the injury as a result of the breach of duty.
Logans’s duties to Vallot were to take ordinary and reasonable care to keep its premises reasonably safe and to warn of perils that were known or should have been known to Logans that Vallot could not discover.
Vallot’s evidence demonstrates only that: (1) the floor was wet; and (2) he slipped and fell. There was no evidence of how long the slippery substance was on the floor or to suggest that Logans caused or had notice of the spill.
This is not enough to establish that Logans breached its duty of care. Because it is undisputed that Logans had neither actual nor constructive notice, Vallot was unable to prevail as a matter of law on his negligence lawsuit.
The appeals court agreed with the court that the case was properly dismissed.
Are restaurant injury settlements similar to most Florida accident settlements?
Yes. However, any possible settlement will depend on the facts of the case. Take a look at some Florida injury settlements.
The devil is in the details. Many smaller Florida injury settlements cannot be found online. Many defense verdicts are not online.
Florida attorneys generally like to talk about their good results. Many do not mention the smaller settlements. I have written about many Florida injury settlements.
Many may have been larger if the case was against a careless restaurant instead of an auto insurer. This is because restaurants generally have much higher limits of coverage.
Is there a settlement calculator for Florida restaurant injury cases?
The closest thing to an accurate settlement calculator for Florida restaurant accident cases is Colossus. It is only available to the insurance companies.
There are injury calculators online. Most, if not all, do not use Florida law. This makes them virtually useless.
The online settlement calculators use the total billed medical charges as part of the victim’s economic damages. This is incorrect in Florida.
In Florida, the injured person can only recover the out of pocket medical expenses. The victim can also recover first party medical liens which are subject to subrogation. My Florida injury claim value calculator uses the out of pocket medical bills (and liens).
Online calculators do not tell you how to determine if the defendant is at fault. They do not discount the full value of the case if the defendant is not negligent. They also do not decrease the full value of the case based on the percentage chance that there is a defense verdict.
Online calculators do not reduce the full value of your Florida restaurant injury case by the victim’s comparative fault.
Who are the major Florida restaurant liability insurers?
I do not know of any list that ranks the largest Florida largest restaurant insurers. However, the insurance companies that I have either dealt with or know insure Florida restaurants are:
- Hanover Insurance Company
- Philadelphia Insurance Companies (Bed and Breakfasts; hotels and resorts)
- Old Dominion Insurance Company (part of Main Street America Group)
- Westfield Insurance Company
- Liberty Mutual Insurance
- Hartford Casualty Insurance Company
- Zurich American Insurance Company
The 2014 Florida Office of Insurance Regulation Annual Report lists the largest commercial multiple peril (liability portion) insurers.
The liability portion of commercial liability insurance covers of a restaurant if its negligence causes someone’s bodily injury. A restaurant is a commercial property, so this list may apply.
Below is a list of some of the 15 largest Florida business liability insurers. It is in terms of Florida written premiums for business liability insurance. It goes from biggest to smallest.
- Federal Insurance Company
- Southern-Owners Insurance Company
- Rockhill Insurance Company
- Scottsdale Insurance Company
- Granada Insurance Company
- First Community Insurance Company
- Nationwide Insurance Company of America (or Allied Insurance Company)
- American Economy Insurance Company
Who is the best Florida restaurant accident lawyer? Who is the top Miami restaurant injury attorney?
Florida ethics rules prevent lawyers from calling themselves the “best” restaurant injury or accident lawyer. So attorneys cannot call themselves the best Florida restaurant accident lawyer.
Attorneys can say that they are experienced at handling restaurant accident cases. They can list their Florida slip and fall and other premises injury settlements.
Restaurants in Florida
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Restaurant
Claims Directors for Florida restaurants
Russ French is director of claims for Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP.
Larger restaurant chains that may be self-insured
Some larger restaurant chains that may be self insured in Florida are listed below:
Baja Fresh Mexican Grill
Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s
Ben & Jerry’s
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
Buffalo Wild Wings
Burger King (but also has many franchisees)
California Pizza Kitchen
Carrabba’s Italian Grill
Chili’s Grill & Bar
Denny’s (see a $210,000 settlement against a Denny’s franchisee)
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Flanigan’s Seafood Bar and Grill
Hungry Howie’s Pizza
Joe’s Crab Shack
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
Papa John’s Pizza
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
Tropical Smoothie Cafe
Darden Restaurants, Inc.
The Capital Grille
Cracker Barrel has many Florida restaurants. It is worth $3.38 Billion. It can afford to pay a catastrophic injury claim.
Bloomin’ Brands, Inc
Bloomin’ Brands is a casual dining restaurant company with many restaurant concepts. Bloomin Brands is worth $2.89 Billion so it can afford to pay a catastrophic injury claim. Its five concepts include: Outback Steakhouse, Carrabbas’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, and Roy’s.
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