Florida Premises Liability Laws
Although people typically refer to Premises Liability under the term “slip and fall” the law provides recovery for a wider range of injury scenarios. In the state of Florida owners of property owe duties and obligations to people who come onto that property. For example a duty to keep the property safe so that accidents don’t occur. The level of duty that a property owner owes to the people coming on the land varies with different types of land owners. Businesses owe you the highest duty, an obligation to keep the premises safe by taking reasonable measures to protect you from known dangers and to correct known dangers. Unfortunately, through the negligence of landowners and shopkeepers, individuals are often injured when owners fail to maintain safe premises. This can happen through almost a limitless possibility of known hazards. Here are some common examples that we see frequently:
Slipping on a wet surface
Tripping over a break in the floor surface
Falling over a break in pavement
Owners of property, whether a business or a residential home, have obligations to keep property safe in the state of Florida. Florida provides different requirements, or standards of care, depending on the relationship between the owner of the property and the person coming onto the property. The general categories of land owners along with their respective duties under Florida law are as follows:
1) Business Owner: Business Invitees or patrons of the business establishment who enter the business premises are owed the highest standard of care and have the most protection. The owner must take measures to actively protect persons on the property from reasonably foreseeable dangers.
2) Licensees: Those who may enter your property without specific invitation, think friends, guests, neighbors who could show up without an invitation. Property owners must maintain property in a reasonably safe manner and repair and unsafe conditions. They also must warn against known dangers.
3) Trespassers: People that do not have permission to be on property are stilled owed a duty of care in Florida! So you can’t intentionally cause injury or booby-trap your yard without potentially incurring civil liability. Also, once you find that trespasser you have a duty to warn him or her of any known dangers.
4) Children and Attractive Nuisance: Florida has a special rule designed to protect children from things that would attract a typical child onto a premise that also may be dangerous. This is commonly referred to as the attractive nuisance doctrine. If you have a swimming pool whether filled or not, or any other object that may attract children to your premises, Florida law places an obligation on you to keep it reasonably safe.
Liability for a premise owner in Florida who is running a business is dependent upon a special duty of care owed to people coming to an establishment for business (commonly referred to as invitees). Generally, a business owner owes patrons two duties:
1) The duty to use reasonable care in maintaining the property in a safe condition
2) Duty to warn of latent or concealed dangers which are or should be known to the owner but are unknown to the invitee (patron) and cannot be discovered through the exercise of due care.
The above referenced statute represents a change in Florida law and shifted the burden of proof onto a Plaintiff. In other words, a Plaintiff has to prove that the business had actual or constructive knowledge of the danger. How do you do that?
Obtain evidence showing either:
1. Actual knowledge of the danger
2. Constructive notice based upon the length of time the dangerous condition was present.
3. That the condition was a regular re-occurrence of the dangerous condition.
Retain an Experienced Florida Premises Liability Attorney
There are many potential scenarios. The important thing to remember is that if you have been injured because of an unsafe condition you may be entitled to recovery for your injury. Often these liabilities are covered by large insurance companies who attempt to intimidate people into accepting low ball settlement offers. We want you to obtain everything you deserve after an injury. Give us a call today for a free consultation and we will help you to craft the best strategy for your recovery.
Special Rules for Moving Objects
If injured by a problem with a surface object, premises liability in Florida is governed by Fla. Stat.: 768.0755 which provides:
(1) 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. Constructive knowledge may be proven by circumstantial evidence showing that:
(a) The dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have known of the condition; or
(b) The condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.
(2) This section does not affect any common-law duty of care owed by a person or entity in possession or control of a business premises.