A great way to talk about slip and fall claims against an US Post Office (in Florida) is to use an actual case. The case I want to discuss is Avy Basden Kenny v. United States of America, Tampa Division, United States District Court Middle District Of Florida, Case No. 8:10-CV-1083-T-27EAJ (M.D. Fla. Feb 16, 2012).
Though this is not my case, I have handled and settled many Florida slip and fall claims. I chose to write about this case because it is a rather recent case.
It was recently cited as good law, in the 2015 case of Garcia v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, Dist. Court, MD Florida 2015. However, I think that the court in the Walmart case cited it incorrectly. (Learn more about Florida slip and fall injury claims against Walmart).
Tip: You should read EVERY Florida slip and fall case (that courts have written about) before handling one on your own. There are hundreds, if not over a thousand, slip and fall cases that courts have written about.
One fact can make or break a case.
Findings and Conclusions
This case went to trial. Plaintiff brought this premises liability lawsuit against Defendant as a result of a slip and fall in the lobby of a post office. In this case, the “Plaintiff” is the injured person.
Warning! In a slip and fall case against the post office if Florida, you have a shorter time to sue for negligence. There are also specific notice requirements. Do not blow them!
Plaintiff claims the Defendant was negligent in maintaining the post office floor, inspecting the floor, and failing to warn her of a dangerous condition.
To win, Plaintiff had to prove by the greater weight of the evidence that:
(1) the defendant owed a duty of reasonable care to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition;
(2) the defendant breached that duty; and
(3) the defendant’s breach was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries and resulting damages.
Although it was not so at the time of this case, actual or constructive notice of the transitory foreign object or substance is now a required element of proof to this claim.
In this case, there was little evidence to establish how long the water remained on the floor. This is a big problem under today’s slip and fall law.
If a lawsuit was filed in this same case today, the Plaintiff is required to prove actual or constructive notice that water was on the floor to prove her claim. So this case may have been dismissed under Florida’s new law. Fla. Stat. § 768.0755 (2010).
She entered the lobby area of the Tampa post office intending to enter the service counter area next to the lobby. She stepped onto a slip resistant mat at the threshold of the lobby.
A second mat was in place at the threshold of the service counter area. Between the two mats, the tile floor was exposed. As she went toward the entrance of the service area, she stepped onto the tile floor between the two mats.
The heel of her leather sandal slipped out from under her, causing her to slip and fall. She attempted to break her fall with her right hand. As a result, she suffered a severe break of her right wrist.
Ultimately, the fracture required surgery and the placement of a titanium plate and six screws in her wrist. She incurred medical expenses of $16,649.35.
The medical bills she incurred were not argued, either as to reasonableness or necessity.
Tip: In a Florida slip and fall case, the United States may argue that your medical bills were unreasonable or not necessary. They may offer you less because of this.
If they make you try the case in order to get fair value, the judge does not have to award you your incurred medical bills if he finds that they were unreasonable or unnecessary.
The medical bills Plaintiff incurred were not disputed, either as to reasonableness or necessity. In Florida, a plaintiff may also recover for:
- any bodily injury sustained
- and any resulting pain and suffering
- disability or physical impairment
- mental anguish
- loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life experienced in the past or to be experienced in the future.
There is no exact standard for measuring such damage. The amount should be fair and just in the light of the evidence.
As for pain and suffering and loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, past and future, the judge found that the slip and fall victim suffered severe pain when she broke her wrist. She will experience some pain in the future as a result of her injury.
Fact: If a customer sues for a slip and fall at a post office in Florida, he will not get a jury trial. This is because the case is a tort claim against the United States of America. A judge will decide how much your case is worth.
As a result of the incident, she is unable to lead as active a lifestyle as she did before the incident. Playing the piano, scrapbooking and ordinary household tasks are now painful for her.
She is unable to travel as she once did because of her physical limitations. She cannot provide the same level of care to the young children she teaches because of physical limitations.
In sum, he found that her injury has diminished her ability to enjoy life. Accordingly, from the greater weight of the evidence, he awarded her the following damages, based on a life expectancy of approximately 25 years:
1. Medical expenses incurred in the past: $ 16. 649.35.
2. Pain and suffering, disability, physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, inconvenience, and loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life:
a. sustained in the past: $ 25.000.00
b. to be sustained in the future: $ 20.000.00
3. Total amount of damages: $ 61.649.35
A Florida jury likely would have awarded more money for the pain and suffering component of her claim. Juries tend to award higher pain and suffering damages than judges.
Learn more about wrist fracture personal injury cases in Florida.
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