/rueziffra.com/Allan Ziffra Injury Attorney/ 06/16/2009
Entirely too often, innocent individuals sustain serious injuries while on the property of another due to that landowner’s negligence, carelessness and outright disregard for the safety of others. Slip-and-falls, trip-and-falls, and a variety of other premises liability accidents arise when a plaintiff is injured due to a dangerous and hazardous condition on a landowner’s property that such landowner failed to remedy or otherwise warn against. Likewise, many accidents are caused by defective and unreasonably dangerous products even when used in the manner the manufacturer intended. Frequently, the landowner or manufacturer will take affirmative action after the plaintiff sustains harm in an effort to prevent future accidents and to execute a 25th hour type of plan to be seen as responsible and caring.
Unfortunately for the victim, 1) this subsequent action does him/her no benefit whatsoever, and 2) under the Florida Rules of Evidence, these actions are not admissible to help establish the defendant’s negligence for having maintained a dangerous condition or for having manufactured a hazardous product. Specifically, the evidence of measures taken after an injury or harm caused by an event, which measures if taken before the event would have made such injury or harm less likely to occur, is not admissible to prove negligence, the existence of a product defect, or other culpable conduct in connection with the event. This exclusionary rule is based on the public policy that repairs and other precautionary steps to avoid injuries should not be discouraged. If evidence of the repair or other subsequent remedial measure (SRM) can be used to establish a landowner’s negligence, theoretically, the landowner will not remedy the hazardous condition out of fear that this action will later be used against him.
The most common examples of subsequent remedial measures include changing a hazardous condition, the newer design of a product, the addition of a warning label, terminating or sanctioning an employee, and the institution of a safety program or policy. However, the rule excluding SRM’s does not require the exclusion of evidence of post-injury actions taken when those actions are offered for another purpose, such as proving ownership, control, or the feasibility of precautionary measures.
It is also significant to note that there are a number of exceptions whereby attorneys can have subsequent remedial measures admitted into evidence. Notably, SRM’s can be admitted into evidence when offered to impeach the testimony of a witness. For example, evidence can be admitted to counter testimony that no changes had been made after the plaintiff’s accident. Also, subsequent remedial measures can be admitted to rebut testimony that attempts to establish the plaintiff’s alleged negligence as the cause of the accident. Furthermore, SRM’s can be admitted to rebut the defendant’s claim that there was no better alternative at the time of the manufacturing of an allegedly defective product. Moreover, SRM’s can be admitted to rebut testimony that nothing else could have been done to prevent the accident or to rebut the defendant’s claim that the product was state of the art. Keep in mind that repairs and other remedial measures done prior to the plaintiff’s accident are not excluded by this rule.
The law firm of Rue & Ziffra regularly litigates all sorts of premises liability and product defect cases. Our Daytona Beach lawyers are familiar with unique and novel litigation tactics that they employ to put our clients in as advantageous a position as possible.
In the event you or a family member sustains an injury while on the property of another or in the course of using a potentially defective product, contact the Florida Premises Injury Attorneys / Daytona Lawyers of Rue & Ziffra at 1-800-526-4711 or visit our website at www.RueZiffra.com for more information on our firm’s areas of expertise and experience helping injured Floridians and their families.