What Is Premises Liability?
Bill Allen | January 5, 2023 | Premises Liability
A person who owns or controls real estate (land, buildings, and fixtures) owes a duty of care to people who are legally present on their property. If you suffer an injury on their property due to a dangerous condition, you might qualify for personal injury compensation under the legal theory of premises liability. Slip and fall accidents and construction accidents frequently involve premises liability claims.
Examples of Dangerous Conditions
Following is a very abbreviated list of potentially dangerous conditions on real property:
- Broken stairway railings;
- Dark stairwells;
- Poisonous spiders;
- Crime-infested parking structures;
- Wet floors;
- Icy parking lots and stairs;
- Sinkholes and other holes in the ground, especially if concealed by grass or leaves;
- Unfenced pools;
- Uneven carpeting;
- Objects on the floor;
- Unsecured electrical cords; and
- Gas leaks, especially if the gas is odorless.
Customers frequenting commercial establishments account for a high percentage of premises liability claims.
What You Have To Prove To Win
The injured party must be able to demonstrate negligence by the property owner to prevail in a Florida premises liability lawsuit. You must demonstrate that the owner of the property should have repaired the hazard on their property or at least warned about it but failed to do so.
Not every harm sustained while on another person’s property qualifies for a premises liability claim. The injury must have been brought on by the property owner’s negligence in order for the claim to be legitimate. Some accidents are nobody’s fault.
Your Status as a Visitor and Why It Matters
To win your premises liability claim, you must prove that the property owner or manager failed to meet their duty of care to you. This duty is different depending on whether you are a licensee, an invitee, or a trespasser.
- Licensees: A licensee is a person who is on the property with the consent of the property owner but not for the owner’s advantage. An illustration of a licensee is a door-to-door salesperson. The owner must protect a licensee from known dangers but has no duty to inspect the property for hidden dangers.
- Invitees: An Invitee is someone who is on the property with the owner’s permission and to the owner’s advantage. A consumer in a store, for instance, is an invitee. An invitee has a right to expect the property owner to keep it fairly safe and to address any known hazards. The owner must also conduct a reasonable inspection of the property and either repair or warn of any dangers they discover.
- Trespassers: A person who is on private property without the owner’s consent is considered a trespasser. Except in situations when the property owner knowingly or negligently harms the trespasser, a property owner generally has no duty of care to an adult trespasser.
It is crucial to remember that these divisions are not always precise, and the precise duty of care due to a visitor may vary depending on the facts of the situation.
A Legal Loophole: The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
According to the attractive nuisance theory, a property owner is responsible for any injuries that children suffer while on their property if the owner knew or should have known about the hazard, and it was foreseeable that children would be drawn to it. In other words, if a property owner has something on their land that is hazardous and likely to attract kids, and if the owner does not take reasonable precautions to keep kids safe from that danger, they may be held accountable for any injuries that come from the danger.
Section 823.08 of the Florida Statutes contains a codification of the attractive nuisance theory in Florida. A property owner is required by this law to take reasonable precautions to keep children safe from hazards on their land that are likely to draw them. This entails securing any machinery, equipment, or other potentially hazardous items, as well as fencing off or informing visitors about any pools, wells, or other water features that may be present on the property. The attractive nuisance theory may hold a property owner accountable for a child’s injuries if they ignore these precautions and the child is hurt as a result.
The Statute of Limitations Deadline
It’s critical to move swiftly if you decide to pursue a premises liability claim. Personal injury claims in Florida are subject to a statute of limitations, typically four years after the accident. This means you must reach a settlement or file a lawsuit, or you risk losing the right to compensation.
If your premises liability claim is successful, you might be entitled to financial support for your medical costs, lost income, and other damages, including pain and suffering. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can assist you in calculating the worth of your claim.
The owner might raise the defense that you were negligent in causing your own injury. In Florida, you can still recover compensation even if you share some blame for the accident.
However, a court will reduce your damages in proportion to your percentage of fault. If you were 30% at fault, for example, the court will deduct 30% from your damages award. This law is also relevant to settlement negotiations because “all bargaining takes place in the shadow of the law.” This means that the parties will generally consider how a court would evaluate the situation, even if a lawsuit hasn’t been filed yet.
A Gainesville Personal Injury Lawyer Can Make All the Difference
A Gainesville premises liability attorney can assist you by offering legal representation and direction throughout the entire process. They can support your claim by gathering and presenting evidence, negotiating with the property owner or their insurance provider to try to achieve a settlement, and, if necessary, representing you in court. They may also assist you in understanding the rules and regulations that apply to your case.
Contact Our Gainesville Premises Liability Law Firm in North Central Florida
If you need legal assistance, contact the Gainesville premises liability lawyers at Allen Law Firm at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We have three convenient locations in North Central Florida: