You see or hear about it almost every day. Someone falling on someone else’s property. It could be a grocery store, a business, or a friend’s home. Sometimes these falls cause injuries. Sometimes, those injuries are extremely serious. So if a fall were to occur injuring you, a family member, or friend, what should you do? What should you advise a friend or family member to do? Before you can do anything, or advise somebody what to do, you need to understand what a person who is injured on another’s property is up against.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises owners or occupiers of land have a duty to protect visitors from injury due to conditions that present a danger. For example, if a property owner knows of a slipping or tripping hazard on the premises, he needs to advise a guest of that potentially dangerous condition. A breach of that duty of care results in liability of the premises owner for the injuries or damages incurred on the property as a result of the breach of duty. As such, premises liability is the potential legal responsibility that arises when someone sustains an injury as a result of an unsafe condition on the property.
Does Premises Liability Only Apply To Businesses?
No, in Florida, premises liability applies to anyone who owns or occupies real property Including both businesses and residential owners. Some examples of premise liability cases are (*Please note that these cases are the most common, but is no way a comprehensive list):
- Slip and Fall Claims
- Accidents from swimming pools
- Animal bites
- Failure to provide adequate security to protect guests
- Claims resulting from harmful fumes or chemicals
- Elevator accidents
- Dangerous machinery
How Do You Prove Premises Liability?
Just like any personal injury case, premises liability cases have certain elements that need to be shown. Under Florida law the elements for premise liability are as follows:
- When the plaintiff sustained their injury, the defendant legally occupied or owned the real estate.
- The plaintiff had a legal right to be on the property
- The defendant, as the legal occupier or owner of the property, had a duty to warn the plaintiff regarding any dangers that are known or should have been known by the defendant, or to protect the plaintiff of the danger.
- The defendant breached its duty to the plaintiff.
- The plaintiff sustained an injury due to the breach of duty by the defendant.
Different duties owed different “classes” of persons on Defendant’s property
Under Florida law, people venturing onto another’s property as falling into one of three categories:
As the name suggests, the invitees have been given specific permission to enter the property of the owner or occupiers. As a result, the owner/occupier owes the invitee category the highest duty to ensure they are safe from any known or potentially known dangers that may arise.
Licensees are a common category that applies to businesses. Although not specifically invited to enter the property, there is an implied invitation. As a result, the licensee can pursue the business services or goods.
Trespassers are people who enter the property without an invitation or knowledge of the owner or occupier. As a result, the duty of care owed to a trespasser is limited. That is to say, the owner/occupier can create a hazard or danger without warning. For example, consider a quarry where active mining is ongoing. The owner/occupier would need to warn the general public about the dangers by placing fencing and signage. However, if someone trespasses anyway, the owner is not responsible for the trespasser’s decision.
Can I recover damages if I sustain an injury on someone’s property?
If a plaintiff succeeds on a claim under premises liability, the damages awarded might include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Loss of wages
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Out of pocket expenses relating to restoring plaintiff’s quality of life.
What If I Have A Case Under Premises Liability?
If you, or someone you know, sustains an injury as a result of the negligence of a property owner while on their property, please contact the Attorney Kim Wells at Valrico Law Group. Let our experienced attorneys assist you in maximizing your recovery.