If you trip and fall on buckled carpet at a Florida condominium building, you may be entitled to compensation.
I am going to use an actual case to talk about injury claims for trip and falls on rumpled carpet at a Florida condominium.
Celeste Wieder was a unit owner at the King Cole Condominium in Miami Beach, Florida.
She claimed that one afternoon, when returning to her unit after walking her dog, her foot got caught on a portion of the carpet in her hallway which had buckled after being shampooed.
She claimed that, as a result, she fell and injured her arm, hand, and neck. She as well as other unit owners had complained to the board of directors of the King Cole Condominium Association, Inc. (“Association”) about the buckling carpet.
Apparently, the buckling was worse immediately after the carpet was cleaned and still wet. The Association did nothing to fix the situation before her fall.
She sued the Association
Eventually, she sued the Association, claiming, that:
1. The Association had a duty to maintain the hallways which were ingress and egress to the apartments and to the condominium lobby in a reasonably safe and serviceable condition for the use of persons being in and about the premises of the building and area.
2. The Association did not maintain the said premises in a reasonably safe and serviceable manner. Rather, she claimed that they negligently and wrongfully permitted and allowed the hallways of the condominium to be in a defective condition and allowed the condition to become a hazard, danger, and a trap to persons using said stairs.
In addition, and in the alternative, the defective condition and hazardous carpeting were inherently dangerous in themselves and were a trap, hazard and a danger to persons using said hallways.
Failure to Warn
She claimed that the association failed to warn persons using the stairway of its inherently dangerous condition.
The trial court dismissed the case. However, Wieder appealed.
The appeals court said that the Wieder testified that she had seen and avoided the buckled carpet several times.
Tip: Her prior notice of the buckled carpet before the fall decreases the full settlement value of her case.
Prior Complaints to Association Help an Injured Person’s Case
However, her testimony also showed that multiple condominium residents had complained to the Association about the problem with the carpet, and the Association had taken no action.
Unit Owner’s Familiarity with Carpet’s Condition Goes to Comparative Fault
The appeals court said that, given Wieder’s familiarity with, and knowledge of, the carpet’s condition, “her decision to proceed to encounter the risk does, of course, raise the question whether she was comparatively negligent.”
Nonetheless, this case involves a hallway and carpet on the Association’s property and provided for use by the condominium residents.
There remains a factual issue in this case as to whether, notwithstanding the obvious nature of the buckling, the Association could anticipate the residents walking through the hallway and on the buckled carpet and that they could be hurt by so doing.
Association was aware carpet buckled when cleaned
The association was aware that the carpet buckled whenever it was cleaned and that several condominium residents had complained of the condition. The Association took no steps to fix the situation.
This is not a case where a common design element such as a lowered step or the difference in elevation between a sidewalk and a street caused someone to fall. Those cases are tougher and sometimes impossible to win.
Here, Wieder claimed that under certain conditions, the otherwise harmless carpet would buckle and create a dangerous condition.
Whether the Association should have anticipated an unreasonable risk of harm to the residents requiring it to take action is a question of fact for the jury. Accordingly, the appeals court let the case continue to trial.
Fact: You want your personal injury case to be able to get to a jury. At trial, you could win.
If the condominium association’s insurer knows that your case can get to trial, this usually increases the likelihood that they make a settlement offer. Also, its insurer pays its attorneys by the hour to defend it.
Case Allowed to Continue towards Trial
I do not know if the case settled after it was allowed to continue on its path to trial. This case is Wieder v. King Cole Condo Association, Inc., 109 So. 3d 1196 – Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 3rd Dist. 2013.
Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal (DCA) issued its ruling on March 27, 2013.
Florida’s 3rd DCA handles appeals for Miami-Dade and Monroe County, Florida.
Tampa, Florida lawyers represented the unit owner. Coral Gables, Florida attorneys represented the condominium association.
This isn’t my case. However, I have handled trip and fall claims against Miami Beach and South Florida condominium associations.
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