If you’re driving through Pompano Beach and ask Alexa, Siri or the nameless Google Assistant to find you to a gas station, chances are the mechanical voice will direct you to a Sunoco. Sunoco has five locations in our town, but if you’re particular, you can also buy fuel from Marathon, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Valero or Chevron. All offer quality products, access to public restrooms, and you might even be able to purchase a snack. Yet it’s important to remember that gas stations are high-volume businesses, where spills and debris are common, producing hidden hazards that could cause a swift and devastating slip-and-fall accident. If you’re injured at a gas station in or around Pompano Beach, Florida, Ken M. Frankel P.A. is ready to help, with experienced legal representation focused on positive results.
The answer to this question is in the phrase itself: a person slips (or trips) and suffers a fall that inflicts an injury. However, the phrase is also a legal term of art referring to an injury event for which the victim can demand compensation. The basic rule is that a visitor who is lawfully on the premises of a business has the right to expect the grounds to be free of hidden hazards that might cause a slip-and-fall. A visitor whose encounter with a hidden hazard results in an injury has the right to sue the person or company that controls the premises.
Let’s start with an example. You drive to a station, fill your tank and decide to go inside for a visit to the restroom. On your way through the convenience store, you step in a puddle left by a leaky beverage machine, your foot slips out from under you, and you fall onto the hard tiles of the floor, hurting your back and breaking your wrist. Clearly, you suffered a slip and a fall with injury. But what must you prove to recover compensation?
Slip-and-fall cases require proof by a preponderance of the evidence that the business was negligent. In legal terms, this means the business breached its duty to make the premises reasonably safe for visitors. The injured party must show the business, by actions and/or omissions, was unreasonable. What does it mean to be unreasonable? The answer depends on the circumstances, but could mean:
Proving negligence usually requires the plaintiff to establish a timeline, showing that:
A plaintiff can also prevail by showing the business had not implemented reasonable practices for discovering and remediating foreseeable hazards.
The main defense for the business is to show they behaved reasonably in the face of circumstances no one could have controlled. For example, if one customer created a hazard, perhaps by spilling a milkshake in an aisle, and immediately another customer slipped, the first customer rather than the business would be liable for the injury.
A business can also claim it gave adequate warning of a known hazard. A business that places an orange tent-cone over a spill can claim to have acted reasonably. However, the adequacy of the warning is judged against possible distractions in the area that could have caused the visitor to miss the warning.
Businesses might also claim the hazard was open and obvious. Under Florida law, a business owner has no duty to warn of a hazard that is readily apparent to visitors. Again, the presence of distractions could be a factor in deciding whether the hazard was obvious.
Gas stations have hard surfaces inside and out. A sudden fall can cause:
Slip-and-fall cases can be difficult to prove, especially when evidence can be wiped up immediately. If you’ve been hurt in a gas station slip-and-fall, you can rely on the Law Offices of Ken M. Frankel, PA. Call us today at (954)784-0800 to schedule an appointment to discuss your case. Because we work on a contingency fee basis, there’s no cost to you until you recover compensation by settlement or a trial verdict.