In a slip and fall case, do not assume that the store or business establishment where the fall occurs has to produce the incident report that they completed as part of their investigation.
Typically, the store and their attorneys will not agree to provide the incident report, citing the work product privilege, Rule 1.280 (b)(4), Florida Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party may obtain work product upon a showing of (1) relevance and particularized need and (2) the inability to obtain the substantial equivalent without undue hardship.
To get a firm understanding of how difficult it can be to obtain incident reports, one only has to read the case of Publix v. Anderson. The court held the following:
(Reports created after a slip and fall has been reported) certainly are not prepared because of some morbid curiosity about how people fall at the market. Experience has shown all retail stores that people who fall in their stores try to be compensated for their injuries. Experience has also shown those stores that bogus or frivolous or exaggerated claims might be made. A potential defendant’s right to fully investigate and memorialize the results of the investigation should not be restricted any more than should a potential plaintiff’s. Our system of advocacy and dispute settlement by trial mandates that each side should be able to use its sources of investigation without fear of having to disclose it all to its opponents. This allows for free discussion and communication during preparation for litigation. If all reports and other communications of the litigants were available to the opposition then those communications would certainly be stilted, unrevealing and thus self-defeating in their purpose.
This seems rather unfair since the plaintiff in a slip and fall case has to prove that the store or business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it.
Successfully establishing liability on the part of the store or business establishment in a slip and fall case can be very difficult and is made much more difficult when the plaintiff is not entitled to obtain the incident report which could help prove the plaintiff’s case.
If you, a friend or a loved one are unfortunately injured on the property of another or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Wieland, Hilado & DeLattre, P.A. at (407) 841-7699. For additional resources, keep checking our blog, LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more helpful hints and to always be informed about best practices in law.