The theory of premises liability law here in Florida is that property owners and people who control the access to property must keep it safe for visitors. Failing to uphold that duty makes the owner liable to anyone who suffered harm because of their failure.
Speak with a Wesley Chapel premises liability lawyer if you were hurt while on someone else’s property. One of the seasoned personal injury attorneys at Distasio Law Firm could investigate the incident to discover the party whose negligence caused the accident and hold them accountable for the harm you suffered.
Liability Depends on Duty
Some states hold property owners liable for keeping their premises reasonably safe for all people. Florida follows a more traditional rule that applies varying standards of care depending on the relationship between the property owner and the injured person (claimant). An experienced Wesley Chapel premises liability attorney could explain the standard that might apply in your specific case.
Businesses and facilities open to the public have a duty to keep their premises safe for invitees. An invitee is a customer or patron of the business or facility. You could be an invitee even if you are browsing without immediate plans to buy or just accompanying someone else, such as a child on an outing with a parent.
A property or business owner or manager must take reasonable steps to ensure invitees’ safety, including regularly inspecting to identify hazards and repairing or warning of dangers not yet repaired. What is reasonable depends on the circumstances. For example, wiping up a spill on a floor should happen quickly. However, if an owner discovers an elevator needs servicing, it might take some time for an elevator repair company to come. In that case, a property owner must take the elevator out of service until it is fixed and post warning signs.
A licensee is someone visiting a property with permission but not for the property owner’s benefit. A social guest is a licensee, and a meter reader or similar worker might be a licensee. A property owner must warn licensees of hazards the owner is aware of but might not be obvious to someone unfamiliar with the property.
A property owner has no duty to inspect the premises to find hazards or repair them for the benefit of a licensee. In addition, an owner need not warn a licensee of an open and obvious danger.
Trespassers enter property without permission, and Florida landowners have no duty towards them in most cases. However, if the property contains a feature attractive to children—such as a pool, trampoline, or shed—the owner must take steps to bar access to trespassing children. The parents of a trespassing child could hold a landowner responsible for injuries their child suffered while on a landowner’s property, even if the child was there without permission.
Incidents That Could Lead to Owner Liability
Accidents like tripping on a loose carpet in a hotel or nearly drowning in a condo complex pool are obvious examples of premises liability. A well-practiced Wesley Chapel attorney like Scott Distasio represent clients who suffered injuries in various incidents resulting from property owner negligence, including:
- Exposure to a toxic substance
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Fires and explosions
- Ceiling or roof collapses
- Criminal activity in a mall, office building, parking garage, or similar facility
- Accidents in parks, sports facilities, gyms, amusement parks, and other recreational facilities
Sometimes injured people assume they cannot sue a business owner because they signed a liability waiver. Although the courts in Florida do sometimes honor liability waivers, they do so only if the waiver meets specific, strictly enforced requirements. It is always worthwhile to consult a local legal professional about whether a specific liability waiver is enforceable in Wesley Chapel.
Combatting Assertions of Comparative Fault
When you seek damages for injuries you suffered on a negligently maintained premises, lawyers for the property owners often try to limit their liability by asserting that your negligence contributed to the accident. Florida Statute §768.81 states that in a lawsuit seeking compensation, a negligent claimant could collect the portion of their damages attributable to the conduct of other parties. In practice, this law means that the more responsibility you have for the accident, the less the negligent landowner must pay in damages.
Defense attorneys often aggressively blame the victim for the accident, reducing the damages they must pay. A skilled premises liability lawyer in Wesley Chapel could counter the defense’s assertions with proof that the accident was likely regardless of your conduct because of the owner’s negligent failure to maintain a safe premises.
A Wesley Chapel Premises Liability Attorney Could Help You Hold a Negligent Landowner Accountable
Property owners have a responsibility to provide safe premises for visitors. When they fail in that responsibility and you suffer an injury, you could hold them accountable for your losses.
A Wesley Chapel premises liability lawyer could ensure that the responsible party pays for its failure to protect you. Call today to work with one of the seasoned accident attorneys at Distasio Law Firm.