In a slip/trip and fall case the plaintiff, or injured person generally has the burden of proving that a business knew or should have known of the presence of a transitory hazard such as spilled soda, soap, or, well, vomit on the floor. Although that is not all a plaintiff has to prove, it is often the biggest hurdle to a successful resolution or even the existence of a valid claim at all.
In a plaintiff's complaint initiating a slip and fall lawsuit the lawyer drafting the complaint must be careful to allege facts regarding court venue and jurisdiction, ownership and control of the enterprise, the plaintiff's status as a customer or invitee, the presence of a hazard, that the hazard caused the fall and that the fall resulted in injuries to the plaintiff, AND that the business knew or should have known of the presence of the hazard.
Circumstantial evidence can give a plaintiff enough facts to get past an early dismissal called summary judgement. Examples of such evidence are a plaintiff's statement that the hazard was ice-cream that was completely melted at the time of the fall, or a stain on the ceiling indicating a long time condensation leak from the air conditioner unit, or vomit that had cooled from body temperature. These circumstances suggest that the substance had been on the floor long enough or with enough regularity that a responsible business should have known of the presence of the hazard. A judge in Georgia stated that cold vomit was enough circumstantial evidence to avoid summary judgement and allow the case to go to a jury.
Getting past summary judgement merely allows your case to go forward. The plaintiff's burden to prove the facts alleged in the complaint continues through the presentation of evidence to the jury. Your lawyer will engage expert witnesses to testify to the suitability of the flooring, the presence of the hazard, the length of time it was on the floor and the extent and nature of your injuries. Be assured the defense will hire witnesses who attempt to refute your experts.
The answer to the title question appears to be that cold vomit IS enough... at least to allow a jury to hear your case.
The moral of the post: Keep your eyes open, watch where your are going and by all means avoid vomit on the floor no matter what the temperature.
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(404) 421-4233 in GA
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Attorney Erik Rosskopf
An active member of the Florida and Georgia bar associations, he practices in Jacksonville Florida handling cases throughout North Florida and Georgia.