Visitor Question

Do I have a case against the bar where I fell in the bathroom?

Submitted By: Sandra (Wesley Chapel, Florida)

My brother and I went to this bar for the very first time on my birthday in February.

The waitress had over served us that night, pouring us drinks we didn’t ask for.

After only about 2 hrs later, I went to the bathroom. I slipped and fell in the bar’s bathroom, resulting in an ambulance ride to the hospital and 22 stitches in my knee.

I don’t remember how I fell, or if I fell on something in the bar’s bathroom.

I have pictures and a recording of me being helped and the 911 call.

What can I do to get compensation for my lost wages, hospital bills, and pain and suffering?

Do I have a case against the bar?

Thanks for whatever help you can give me.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Sandra,

The answer to your question can be found by looking at three different Florida state statutes.

Premises Liability

Because your injury occurred when you fell at a business establishment, we must first consider under what circumstances Florida law will permit you to recover against the business owner.

A Florida statute specifically addresses business liability for a slip and fall:

“If a person slips and falls on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment, the injured person must prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it.”

What that statute means is that the business owner could be liable for your injuries if you can prove that a bar employee knew or should have known about the “transitory foreign substance” — in other words, beer or water, etc. — on the floor and failed to clean it up or warn you about it.

You indicate you do not remember how you fell or if you fell on something when you entered the bathroom. That lack of information could make it difficult to prevail in a claim against the bar. To bring a successful claim, you have the obligation to establish the bar’s knowledge of the dangerous condition on the floor.

Evidence is essential.  Unless your brother, a friend or someone else who was at the bar that evening knows about the condition of the floor and how long it had been that way, you will face significant obstacles in proving your claim.

Pure Comparative Fault

Florida is a pure comparative fault state. That means that if you were able to establish that the bar left the bathroom in a dangerous condition the evening you fell, your recovery would be reduced by how much a jury considers you to be at fault for your own injury.

As Florida law provides:

“In a negligence action, contributory fault chargeable to the claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as economic and noneconomic damages for an injury attributable to the claimant’s contributory fault but does not bar recovery.”

In practical terms, this means that if your claim went to trial and a jury found you to be 40%  at fault for your fall and awarded you $10,000 for your injuries, your recovery would be only $6,000 because it’s reduced by your 40% fault.

Comparative Fault and Drinking

There is, however, another Florida statute related to comparative fault that applies when someone has been drinking. Based on your question, it’s clear you and your brother were enjoying drinks at the bar that night, but you don’t make it clear whether you had consumed enough to be intoxicated.

While general comparative fault in Florida would not bar your recovery even if you were 70 or 80 or 90% at fault, Florida specifically bars your claim if you are intoxicated and determined to be more than 50% at fault for your own injuries.

The Florida statute that could apply to your case prevents recovery in a negligence claim if:

“The plaintiff was under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug to the extent that the plaintiff’s normal faculties were impaired or the plaintiff had a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher; and as a result of the influence of such alcoholic beverage or drug the plaintiff was more than 50 percent at fault for his or her own harm.”

Slip and fall cases can be extremely difficult under the best of circumstances, and your situation certainly presents some significant hurdles. A consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand your options and any obstacles to recovery you may face.

Learn more here: Injury Claims in Bars and Nightclubs

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

Best of luck with your claim,

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