Tampa Premises Liability Lawyer
If you were injured on someone else’s property and it wasn’t your fault, you should speak with a premises liability lawyer to see if you have grounds for a legal claim. Common types of premises liability lawsuits include criminal assaults in an improperly lit apartment stairwell, fall injuries from an un-permitted balcony, swimming pool injury at a birthday party, or falling on a slippery surface that does not have adequate traction added for safety.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability lies on the owner or property manager when someone is injured while on their property. They may be legally required to compensate you, the injured person, for their injuries depending on the circumstances.
According to Florida law, property owners and managers have a duty to keep their premises free from reasonably dangerous conditions. Those who have this duty include owners or landlords of either commercial or residential property, and business owners no matter how small or large the business, nor what the nature of the business is.
What Must You Prove in a Florida Premises Liability Claim?
The property owner should compensate your injury if you can prove a few conditions are true including:
- The owner had a duty to keep the location where you were injured free from dangerous conditions.
- The owner knew, or should have known, the dangerous condition existed. This includes analysis of whether the owner had an opportunity to repair the condition, or to warn you about it and failed to do either one. If you are in the grocery store, and someone next to you drops some grapes on the floor, and you immediately slip on them before the owner even had notice of the dangerous condition, the owner will likely not be held liable.
- The owner’s failure to maintain the property in a safe condition was the cause of your injury. For example, if you tripped in the aisle of a store that was free from debris, the fact that there may have been a dangerous water puddle on another aisle will not support your claim.
- You suffered damages for which you need to be compensated.
Even if you can prove all of these elements, whether or not you are able to collect for your damages depends on why you were on the property and the duty owed to you by the owner.
Different Duty Depending on the Legal Status of the Person on the Premises
Owners do not owe the same duty of care to anyone who just happens to come onto their property. The duty is different depending on why the person was on the property and what rights the law says they have. There are three main categories: Business invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
Business or public invitees. Owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees on the property, whether a business or public invitee. The Florida Bar Journal defines a business invitee as
“a person who is invited to enter or remain on land for a purpose directly or indirectly connected with business dealings with the possessor of the land.”
This includes owners of stores, restaurants, gas stations, gyms, etc., and workers who are invited to the establishment or home to do work.
A public invitee is
“a person who is invited to enter or remain on land as a member of the public for a purpose for which the land is held open to the public.”
This would include a duty to those who are injured in public parks, who trip over debris on a public walkway, and so forth.
The owner of property open for business or public invitees is expected to keep the property in good condition, make periodic inspections of the property, and to immediately rectify any dangerous conditions. If immediate repair is not possible, the owner must warn invitees about the possibility of harm. This includes warning about “the foreseeability of third party crime.”
Licensees. Licensees are those who are on the property for social reasons, such as friends and family members who come to share a cup of coffee or attend a celebration. Neighbors who just drop by or, a friend who shows up unexpectedly for a visit, are also in this category.
Property owners must maintain the property in a reasonably safe manner and warn those of any dangerous condition, including the possibility of a crime being committed by a third party. Tenants also have a responsibility to protect their visitors from harm. One example is to protect visitors from being attacked by the tenant’s dog. The tenant, not the landlord, will be liable for the damages caused by the dog attack and possible dog bite lawsuit.
Trespassers. Trespassers have no permission and no right to be on the property. Owners have only a limited duty to protect them from harm due to reckless or intentional acts. Owners need to warn trespassers of any dangers of which the owner is aware that may not be visible. Owners have no duty to protect trespassers from third party crimes or to warn them about the possibility of such an event.
Duty to children. Owners of property must protect children from harm that due to conditions on the property that have a tendency to attract children. Examples of attractions include swimming pools, trampolines, old refrigerators, and similar items. Property owners must take reasonable steps to protect children from the dangerous condition. For example, swimming pools must be fenced. A locked gate and fence also protects the child from entering the property for any reason.
Common Premises Liability Lawsuit Examples
Any type of injury caused by the negligence of owners, managers, or tenants, may be the subject of a premises liability lawsuit including:
- Slip or trip and fall accidents. These are very common and can be due to liquids spilled on a floor, debris on store aisles or sidewalks, tripping over an electrical cord, or due to inadequate lighting hiding the dangerous condition.
- Falling debris. Examples happen often in big box stores, where merchandise is displayed on a level above the head. It can fall off all on its own, or when you reach up to try and move it.
- Criminal attacks. These can occur on the premises, in parking lots, inside a home, or really anywhere. When an apartment, mall, retail store, or other public place has inadequate lighting or security, which allows a perpetrator to hide unseen before pouncing on the person in the parking lot, the owner will be liable for the injury if it was foreseeable that such a thing could happen.
- Dog bites. Under Florida law, you do not have to prove the dog had ever bitten anyone, or is vicious. The dog owner may defend your allegations by saying you provoked the dog.
Contact Our Premises Liability Attorneys for Help
Contact Armando Personal Injury Law Firm to speak with an experienced premises liability lawyer near you in Lakeland, Fort Lauderdale, or Tampa, Florida if you were injured or hurt on someone else’s property through no fault of your own. You don’t pay anything unless we win your case, we have Spanish speaking lawyers ready to assist you, and our injury attorneys have decades of experience handling premises liability claims in the state of Florida.