Premises Liability in Florida: Who is Responsible?
When you go shopping or visit a friend, you shouldn’t have to worry about your safety. In Florida, property owners are responsible for taking reasonable steps to prevent accidents from happening on their premises. This means maintaining the property, making timely repairs to dangerous conditions, and warning visitors of any hazards. When owners fail in these duties, they put others in harm’s way.
If you were hurt on someone else’s property and believe a landowner, tenant, manager, or another party is to blame, you could be entitled to compensation. The Florida premises liability lawyers at Brooks Law Group can determine whether you have a valid claim and demand full and fair compensation for your injuries.
When you choose Brooks Law Group, you get decades of experience and a commitment to top-quality client service and maximum results on your side. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.
Premises Liability and Negligence in Florida
Premises liability laws in Florida hold property owners accountable for accidents and injuries that occur on their property. However, victims must prove that the owner was negligent to receive compensation. So, what is negligence?
Negligence refers to an individual’s failure to take reasonable measures to prevent others from being harmed. For example, all drivers are expected to take every possible step to avoid an accident. If they drive drunk, they are negligent.
The same principle applies to premises liability law. However, unlike drivers, property owners in Florida owe varying degrees of responsibility to others based on their legal status at the time of the accident. Keep reading to learn more.
Invitees, Licensees, and Trespassers
Your premises liability claim will hinge on whether an owner had a duty to protect you. This differs depending on whether you are an invitee, licensee, or trespasser.
An invitee is someone who is invited onto the property for a business or public purpose. If you go shopping at the mall or visit a public park for a picnic, you’re an invitee. Even though you don’t have an actual invitation to those places, it’s implied because stores and parks are open to the public.
Property owners owe the highest level of care to invitees. They must conduct regular upkeep to keep the premises in reasonably safe condition. Owners must also caution invitees of dangerous conditions or post signs warning invitees of hazards that are not obvious.
A licensee may be invited or uninvited. The landowner’s duty of care differs depending on your status as a licensee.
An invited licensee is visiting the property by invitation. If you’re invited to someone’s home for a cookout or birthday party, you’d be an invited licensee. A property owner would owe the same duty of care to you that is expected for an invitee.
Uninvited licensees are different. They’re usually on the property for their own benefit. A solicitor who knocks on your door to sell lawn care services is an example of an uninvited licensee. Here, a property owner has less of a responsibility to protect the visitor. They must avoid “willful or wanton” actions that could harm the licensee and warn them of non-obvious hazards.
Trespassers are on-site without permission. Many owners make the mistake of thinking that they are automatically cleared of liability because the injured person was trespassing. That’s not necessarily true.
If the trespasser is detected on the property within 24 hours before the accident, they are called discovered trespassers. Owners have a much lower duty of care to discovered trespassers but still have an obligation to rid the property of hazards or provide reasonable warning about the dangers.
Owners have the least duty to protect undiscovered trespassers, who are never spotted on the property before the injury occurred. They can only be held liable for intentional actions that harm an undiscovered trespasser.
The one exception is if a child is trespassing. Kids are naturally curious. Under Florida law, if there is an “attractive nuisance” on the property (like a swimming pool) that is not secured adequately, the property owner could be held liable for any injuries resulting from a child’s interaction with the hazard.
Because visitor status laws are so complicated, it’s a good idea to seek help from a knowledgeable premises liability lawyer in Florida.
Can Both Parties Be at Fault?
Yes. In some cases, Florida courts may decide that the victim and the property owner share some responsibility for the accident. In that case, the state’s comparative negligence rules will apply. That means the victim’s compensation will be reduced by the percentage of fault they are assigned for the accident.
Keep in mind that your visitor status is not the only thing that could affect the owner’s responsibility in your premises liability claim. The court will also evaluate other factors to determine fault, such as:
- Was the accident foreseeable? Owners can only be held liable for foreseeable hazards. Under the law, foreseeability refers to a person’s reasonable ability to anticipate that an accident could happen. If the owner was not aware of the condition or that it could threaten someone else’s safety, they may not be held responsible for the accident.
- Did the owner take reasonable action? Let’s say you slipped on spilled water in the supermarket. If the owner can prove that they were taking active steps to address the issue when the accident happened — such as having an employee standing near the puddle while someone else was retrieving a mop and warning sign — they may not be held liable for the injury.
Only a thorough investigation into the facts of the case can determine whether your claim has merit. Working with an experienced premises liability attorney is essential to identify whether you have rights to compensation.
Get Legal Support From a Florida Premises Liability Lawyer Now
Don’t wait to take legal action if you were hurt on someone else’s property. Get in touch with Brooks Law Group today. Our law firm is staffed by a team of proven premises liability lawyers who can fight for every dollar you’re owed.
We can get started immediately. Call or fill out our contact form for a free initial consultation.