Premises liability laws protect victims of all ages who are injured on someone else‘s property.
Many publicly and privately-owned establishments such as airports, nightclubs, schools, retail stores and parking lots, have a legal responsibility to abide by the established standards of safety. They must operate their property in a manner that does not pose an unreasonable danger, especially when the individuals on site are there for the purpose of furthering the property owner’s business interests.
At The Garvin Law Firm, our Fort Myers premises liability injury attorneys recognize that this area of law can be highly technical and complex. That’s why we offer legal services from attorneys with extensive experience and a proven track record of success in these cases.
Some examples of common Florida premises liability claims include:
- Trip and fall on an uneven or broken sidewalk
- Slip and fall on a slick floor
- Obstruction in a stair or aisle
- Inadequate lighting
- Poorly-lit entry or stairwell
- Missing or broken handrails on stairs
- Dangerously displayed merchandise
- Swimming pool lacking gates or locks
- Swimming pool without clear depth markers, lights or supervision
- Lack of adequate security resulting in criminal assault
- Non-working locks or security gate
- Non-obvious obstruction or fall hazard on a walkway
- Dangerous animal / dog bite
In general, owners and landlords are responsible for providing secure and safe conditions whether you are a customer, tenant, or employee. However, not everyone is owed the same duty of care, and some property owners may be shielded from liability. Much will depend on your visitor designation.Legal Status of Plaintiff in Florida Premises Liability Lawsuit
Your legal status will depend on your purpose for being on site. Was it a social visit? Were you there as a customer? Are you a tenant? Those who are there for the financial benefit of the property owner will have far more legal protection than someone who was breaking in to commit burglary.
In general, there are three different legal designations that come into play:
An invitee is an individual the property owner has invited onto the site, typically for business purposes. An example would be a customer at a retail store or a contractor or a construction site. Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees. They are required to make sure their property is safe by not only addressing or warning about known hazards, but also regularly performing inspections to check for possible dangers.
A licensee is an individual who is on site for their own purposes. In other words, they might not have an invitation, but the property owner consents to their presence. This could be a friend who comes to your home unexpectedly or a solicitor who comes to the business with an offer for the owner/ manager. Property owners don’t owe licensees the same degree of care as invitees, but they do have to make sure they don’t “willfully or wantonly” harm licensees, meaning they can’t create an unreasonable risk of physical harm. They must warn against non-obvious hazards.
Finally, trespassers are those who do enter the property without permission or remain without the right to do so. In this case, the only duty owed is not to willfully or wantonly cause harm or intentional misconduct, such as setting up traps. However, there is a different standard for children who trespass. This falls under the attractive nuisance doctrine. As outlined in F.S. 823.08, an attractive nuisance is something that may be attractive to children, who by nature of their young age may not appreciate the danger. Examples may include abandoned or discarded refrigerators, clothes washers or other air-tight units from which the doors haven’t been removed. Swimming pools, holes, caves might also be considered an attractive nuisance.Foreseeability in Florida Premises Liability
One of the key components of a premises liability claim is foreseeability. That is, could the defendant have foreseen there was a danger on site that might cause someone to be injured? If not, it may be very difficult to recover damages.
As outlined in the 1992 Florida Supreme Court case of McCain v. Florida Power Corp., foreseeability is critical in outlining the scope of duty that is placed on any property owner to avoid negligent acts or omissions. Legal duty arises whenever human action creates a generalized and foreseeable risk of harming someone else. If a defendant’s conduct creates a foreseeable zone of risk, the law generally recognizes a duty placed on the defendant to either:
- Lessen the risk;
- Take sufficient precautions to protect others from the harm that risk poses.
Property owners who create dangerous conditions or fail to address them when they are known or foreseeable can be held accountable when such actions or omissions result in injury to someone else.
Our personal injury attorneys in Fort Myers will work to develop effective legal strategies in your premises liability case.
Contact The Garvin Law Firm premises liability attorneys in Fort Myers today at 239.277.0005 or online for a free case review.