Fort Lauderdale
Premises Liability Attorney

premises liability accident

When you visit a store, a hotel, an amusement park, or someone’s private property, you shouldn’t have to worry about being injured because of unsafe conditions. Property owners owe it to their guests to identify and address dangerous conditions. If they cannot fix a hazard, they should at least place signage warning you of the danger.

If you were injured because of a hazard on someone else’s property, you could seek compensation for your medical bills, lost work wages, and other expenses. The Fort Lauderdale premises liability attorneys at Phillips | Tadros, P.A., represent those who have been hurt due to the carelessness of property owners and managers. We’ll be ready to demand the full and fair compensation the at-fault party owes you.

Call or contact us online for a free consultation, and a Fort Lauderdale premises liability attorney from our firm will go over the details of your case.

What Is Premises Liability?

A premises liability claim is a specific type of personal injury claim that allows those injured due to unsafe conditions on someone else’s property to seek compensation for the harm they suffer and the losses they incur.

Premises liability laws are based on an assumed duty of care that people and business entities that own, occupy, or control properties owe to visitors. Property owners are legally responsible for keeping their premises safe and secure for those who visit the property.

Florida premises liability laws give injury victims the right to seek financial compensation from property owners, occupants, or controllers who fail to keep their premises reasonably safe. Compensation from a premises liability claim can give victims the resources to pay for medical expenses, lost income, and more.

Where Can Premises Liability Accidents Occur?

Preventable injuries can occur almost anywhere, but many premises liability accidents happen in specific familiar locations. Many of the premises liability accident cases that a Fort Lauderdale lawyer handles stem from injuries that occur in areas including:

  • Residential homes and condominiums
  • Apartment units and common areas
  • Staircases, escalators, and elevators
  • Grocery stores and other retail markets
  • Shopping malls and department stores
  • Restaurants, bars, clubs, and theaters
  • Gyms, studios, and fitness centers
  • Hotels, resorts, and convention centers
  • Amusement parks and theme parks
  • Swimming pools and playgrounds
  • Train, bus, and other transportation stations
  • Parking lots, garages, and sidewalks

What Are the Premises Liability Laws in Florida?

Florida’s premises liability laws come from statutory and state court decisions. The Florida Supreme Court decision in Post v. Lunney outlines some critical distinctions between the status of a visitor. Florida law holds property owners to different standards concerning the duty of care owed to visitors.

Let’s examine the various types of visitors in Florida premises liability law and the duty of care that property owners owe each of them:

Business visitors

A business visitor is someone who visits a property for business dealings. Examples of business visitors include:

  • Shoppers who visit retail or grocery stores
  • Patrons of bars or restaurants
  • Service providers who visit businesses or residential homes to do paid work

Business visitors call on properties for the actual or potential benefit of the property owner, so Florida property owners owe business visitors the highest duty of care. For business visitors, Florida property owners must regularly inspect their premises for hazardous conditions, promptly repair known hazards, and provide warnings for hazards they have not yet fixed.

Public invitees

A public invitee is someone with an explicit or implicit invitation to enter or remain on land that is open to the public. Examples of public invitees include those who visit public parks, libraries, beaches, town squares, and other common outdoor spaces. Florida property owners owe the same high-level duty of care to public invitees as business visitors.

Licensees

A licensee is someone who visits a property either socially or for their own purposes. Examples of licensees include social guests like friends, family members, and neighbors. Door-to-door salespeople and store visitors who dash in only to use the restroom might also count as licensees. Florida property owners need only refrain from “willfully or wantonly” injuring licensees and intentionally exposing licensees to danger.

Trespassers

A trespasser is someone who visits or remains on a property without the owner’s permission. Examples of trespassers include burglars, unauthorized hunters, and patrons of commercial properties who stay past designated closing times. Florida property owners must not intentionally harm trespassers, but they owe no particular duty of care to unwanted visitors.

Children

Florida property owners also have specific responsibilities toward children if their land is in an area where children are likely to trespass. Legislators presume that children lack the experience and critical thinking skills to recognize and avoid certain risks, so state law requires property owners to remove or secure attractive nuisances on their premises.

An attractive nuisance is an item or feature attractive to children but inherently hazardous, such as an open swimming pool, an old vehicle, or an abandoned refrigerator. Florida Statutes § 823.08 expressly requires property owners to remove the doors from abandoned or discarded units that are airtight when closed, such as refrigerators, deep freezers, washers, and dryers.

Compensation in a Premises Liability Claim

With a successful premises liability claim, you could recover monetary compensation for the following types of personal and financial losses:

Hospital bills and medical costs you incur in treating your injuries
Incidental costs like out-of-pocket travel expenses for doctor’s appointments
Reduced income from missed work time while you recover
Projected losses in earning capacity, if you suffer permanent impairments
Subjective losses, such as your pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life

Types of Premises Liability Claims

Slip-and-fall accident cases are among the most common types of premises liability claims in Fort Lauderdale. A slip-and-fall can occur for various reasons, but common types of slip-and-fall accidents include:

  • Slip-and-falls on wet, slick, or cluttered floors
  • Slip-and-falls on uneven pavement or floor coverings
  • Slip-and-falls due to inadequate lighting
  • Slip-and-fall on potholes and other ground openings
  • Falls from heights like scaffolds, ladders, and balconies

Other types of accidents that give rise to a premises liability case in Florida include:

  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Drownings and near-drownings
  • Struck-by falling or flying object accidents
  • Caught-in and crushed-by accidents
  • Electrical shocks and electrocutions
  • Robbery, assault, rape, or other serious harm due to inadequate or negligent security
  • Blocked fire escape incidents
  • Unsafe staircase or stop accidents
  • Unsafe elevator or escalator accidents
  • Dog bites and animal attacks
  • Structural collapse incidents
  • Inadequate lighting incidents
  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • Exposure to hazardous environments
  • Workplace and worksite accidents

What Are the Elements of Premises Liability Claims?

When you file a premises liability case against a Fort Lauderdale property owner, you must prove certain elements before recovering compensation for your losses. For most premises liability cases, you will need to show evidence of the following:

  • A hazardous condition was present on the property.
  • The property owner knew about the hazard or should have known about it through routine property inspection and maintenance.
  • The property owner failed to repair or warn visitors about it.
  • You sustained injuries as a result of the hazardous condition.
  • You exercised an ordinary level of care while visiting, and another typical individual in your shoes would likely have behaved similarly.

If you sustain injuries at a business establishment, Florida Statute § 768.0755 describes the steps you must take to claim compensation in a premises liability case. Specifically, you must show that the business establishment had “actual or constructive knowledge” of the hazard and failed to do anything about it.

In this context, a person has “actual knowledge” of a hazard when they are aware of it, either because they saw it in person or received some explicit notification. The law presumes someone has “constructive knowledge” of a hazard when they should know about it through experience or reasonable diligence.

As an example, you can prove that a business establishment had constructive knowledge of a hazard in a slip-and-fall claim by demonstrating one of the following:

  • The slip-and-fall hazard existed long enough that the business establishment should have become aware of it through the “exercise of ordinary care.”
  • The hazardous condition occurred regularly enough that its presence should have been foreseeable by the business establishment.

Statute of Limitations on Premises Liability Lawsuits in Florida

If you wish to file a premises liability lawsuit against a Fort Lauderdale property owner, remember that state law gives you only four years from the accident’s date. If you try to sue after the four-year deadline has passed, the court will most likely dismiss your case, and you will lose the right to demand compensation at trial.

The premises liability lawyers at Phillips | Tadros, P.A., are here to help you pursue a fair recovery when you get hurt due to someone else’s bad behavior. We can handle your claim deftly and efficiently from day one, so you never have to worry about losing money because of preventable filing mistakes.