Premises liability is a legal term that describes accidents that occur because of dangerous conditions at a specific property location. Any time that you are injured on someone else’s property, a premises liability claim may arise. Some of the most common examples of premises liability claims include things like:
- Slip and falls or trip and falls
- Weather-related falls or injuries
- Poor maintenance or inadequate repairs
- Inadequate security (often leading to an assault)
- Stair, elevator, or escalator accidents
- Dog bites
- Swimming pool accidents
- Trampoline accidents
- Fires or toxic fumes or chemicals
Although the most common premises liability claim is a slip and fall occurrence, the legal term actually covers a wide variety of accidents.
Property Owners in Florida Owe a Duty to You to Keep You Safe
In general, a property owner has a duty to be sure that their property is safe for visitors like you. This rule applies to any property owner, whether the owner is an individual or a business.
Premises liability cases are different from other kinds of personal injury cases. You not only have to prove that you were damaged, but you also have to prove that the property owner violated their duty to keep the property safe. You can often do this in a few ways:
- Show that the property owner knew about the dangerous condition but did nothing to correct it.
- Show that the property owner knew about the dangerous condition and did not warn you about it.
- Show that the property owner should have known about the dangerous condition if they were keeping up with their duties to maintain the property.
Proving that a property owner knew about a property condition can be a challenge. You can use specific types of evidence that would indicate the property owner knew about the dangerous issue. For example, you might be able to show that:
- Others had complained about the condition before
- There have been previous accidents or injuries in that location
- The owner would have noticed the condition if he was inspecting the property properly because it was obvious or in a prominent location
The unique facts of your case will have a huge impact on what types of evidence you should gather and present to prove your case.
The Duty of Care to Different Types of Visitors
Florida organizes visitors into three general categories of people.
- Business invitees
The type of classification that you have will have an effect on the duty of care that the owner of the property owes to you.
When someone enters a property as a business invitee, then the property owner owes that person the highest level of care. There is an expectation that the business is safe for anyone visiting for a business purpose. Property owners must keep the property in good repair or warn visitors about known dangers.
A business invitee includes anyone who visits places like grocery stores, hardware stores, or department stores, just to name a few.
The second-highest level of care goes to licensees. These people include invited friends, family members, neighbors, and others who enjoy a property for social reasons. They have no business function.
The property owner owes a duty to the licensee to maintain the property in a reasonably safe manner and repair any unsafe conditions. The standard is not as high as it would if the visitor was on the property for a business purpose.
You may be surprised to learn that property owners even have a duty to those who were not invited to their property. However, that standard is very low. If the property owner does not know about the trespasser, then the only duty is to prevent intentional or reckless injury.
If the property owner finds out about the trespasser, then they must warn that person about known dangers that the trespasser may not be able to see.
The most common example of this type of situation is someone cutting through a wooded area on someone else’s property. The property owner can tell that people use the path that goes through their property, but they may not see anyone. Under those circumstances, the property owner would have a duty to post a warning sign about a large hole that may be covered with leaves, for example.
Getting Help with Premises Liability Claims
If you have been injured on someone else’s property, you may have a legal claim that can help address your losses and damages. Contact VG Law Group, LLP, for more information or to set up an appointment: 1-833-HELP-365.