As premises liability attorneys serving the Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Bradenton, Sarasota, Tampa, and New Port Richey area, it is our goal to seek justice and compensation for individuals physically injured due to a breach of duty by a landowner or tenant.
It is our goal to seek justice and ensure the owner or occupier of the land is held accountable for not honoring their legal responsibility. The individual or entity that creates the danger or is aware of the hazard and fails to remove the peril is answerable for their disregard.
In Florida, property owners are expected to maintain the premises and keep the grounds safe for visitors. They are required by law to fix any vulnerabilities on their property and at the very least adequately warn guests of any risks. In Florida a landowner can be considered negligent when they knew or should have known of a hazard and either failed to repair it or failed to provide warning about a known hazard. Liability for injuries in Florida applies not only to residential property, but also to those who control commercial premises, vacant lots, and other properties.
We routinely take over premises negligence and inadequate security claims from other attorneys and the biggest mistake many of our colleagues make is their failure to adequately investigate and scrutinize the claim. We must immediately determine who had control over the property in question at the time of incident. We must then determine whether the party managing the property was negligent in their action or failed to act in a reasonable manner in light of a foreseeable danger.
Evidence loses value over time. It is essential that we meet with potential witnesses as soon as possible while the memory remains fresh in their head. Additionally, we always prefer to investigate the condition of the premises immediately (or as soon as possible) following an incident before anyone has a chance to perform work to the property or land in question.
In order to maximize the value of a Clearwater or St. Petersburg premises negligence claim, the attorney must conduct a proper examination including securing all witness statements and evidence possible. Further, the premises liability lawyer must send out a spoliation notice from the outset to ensure that important evidence is not tampered with and enable plaintiff’s legal team to scrutinize all pieces of evidence.
What Type of Care Does the Property Owner Owe?
Property owners owe different types of care depending on the classification of guest they are hosting. There are three types of guests:
- Business Invitees: An invitee is on the property for the purpose of conducting some type of business. Such an individual has entered onto the property with the expressed invitation or permission of the landowner or occupier of the land/property. For example, a shopper seeking goods or a worker invited to a private residence to repair an appliance. Property owners owe these guests the highest level of care; they are required to inspect their property and provide warning about any hazards. Property owners may be liable for any hazard that they should be aware of.
- Licensees: This is an individual who enters the property with the permission or invitation of the landowner or occupier of the property. However, the main difference is that a licensee does not enter the property for business purposes. Licensees include relatives, friends, and other social visitors to the property. Licensees are able to remain on the property for nonbusiness purposes. Property owners are required to maintain and fix any hazardous areas on the property; however, unlike business invitees, property owners are only liable for hazards they know about.
- Trespassers: A trespasser is an individual who enters onto land without the permission of the landowner or occupier of the premises. A property owner is significantly less obligated to protect a trespasser than to protect a licensee or invitee. However, a property owner is not allowed to intentionally set up hazardous areas to harm a trespasser. There is no obligation of the landowner or occupier to warn the trespasser of known dangers unless they are constructively aware of the trespassers presence.
Claims against property owners may include:
- Slip and Fall: Slip and Falls usually occur when the victim was not properly alerted of hazards on the premises by the owner of the property. Victims may suffer broken bones, severe sprains, back injuries, and other debilitating injuries due to lack of adequate warning, negligent maintenance, or constructions defects. Hazards may include: wet floors and spills, missing rails, holes, icy grounds, slippery surfaces, tears in rugs, and uneven pavement.
- Retail Accidents: Beyond slip and fall accidents, customers may suffer due to shelving collapses or falling products.
- Dog Bites: When a person in bitten or injured as a result of an animal chasing and/or attacking them, the owner of the animal is liable. Injuries may include scarring, nerve damage, and wounds requiring stitches or reconstructive surgery.
- Rape and Assault: (also known as “Negligent Security Claims”) When a property is located in an area that is likely to attract crime property owners are required to provide security. Hotels, bars, parking garages, apartment complexes and other buildings may be liable when patrons are assaulted, either physically or sexually, in buildings or parking lots.
- Swimming Pool Accidents: When a property owner fails to adequately secure their pool they may be liable from any resulting injuries. These types of cases generally occur when the pool is not protected by a fence or barrier.
- Amusement Park Accidents: Theme park accidents range from minor injuries to deadly accidents depending on when and how the accident occurred. It is important to remember that waivers do not automatically exempt amusement park owners from liability.
- Elevator/ Escalator Accident: Victims of elevator and escalator accidents due to malfunction may be able to file a premises liability suit against the owner of the premises as well as the manufacturer of the elevator/ escalator.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a premises liability case, you may be able to recover compensation for the following:
- Medical Bills: Any medical bills incurred as a result of their injury, such as doctor visits, surgeries, physical therapy, medication, and future medical care may be recoverable.
- Lost Wages: You may be able to be compensated for and lost wages due to missed work because of the injury as well as compensation for decreased future earning ability.
- Pain and Suffering: You may be entitled to compensation for any lasting physical or emotional pain suffered as a result of their injury.
- Wrongful Death: When another’s negligence results in death, the family of the victim may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Families of deceased victims may be able to collect compensation for any financial damage, such as loss of income, resulting from their loved one’s death. Families may also be able to seek compensation for pain and suffering.
What Must I Prove in a Slip and Fall or Negligent Security Claim?
- A known dangerous condition existed on the property.
- The owner had a reasonable period of time and opportunity to remedy the condition.
- The owner was aware or had reason to know of the dangerous condition.
- The owner knew of the danger or dangerous condition and failed to takes steps to remedy the situation.
- The owner caused the danger or unsafe condition on or to the property.
- The owner failed to properly warn of the danger or danger that should have been known.
Negligent Security Claims
We briefly discussed rape and sexual assault claims above. A negligent security claim falls under the threshold of premises liability and occurs, when an individual is attacked by a third-party on the property of another. A landowner or occupier (i.e., business owner renting the property) owes a legally recognizable duty to provide safe premises and a duty to protect the visitor from an intentional criminal act committed by a third-party that could be considered reasonably foreseeable. The term foreseeable in this context, relates to when an act can be expected or anticipated under the circumstances. A negligent security attorney will examine whether such acts have occurred on the property or similar locations/venues in recent history (i.e., twenty-four to thirty-six hours).
In regards to claims involving improper security; we initially examine how often law enforcement has been called out to that specific location along with similar venues in the same geographic region. We will attempt to learn about prior criminal matters that took place on the same property and/or business (i.e., banks, restaurant, shopping mall, gas station, school, University, night club, amusement park, apartment building, hotels etc..). It is our priority to learn as much as possible about the geographic area surrounding the venue in question including violent crime statistics and socio-economic factors the landowner or business owner was aware or should have been aware of. This will enable the inadequate security lawyer to illustrate how foreseeable the danger is or should have been to the landowner or occupier.
It is imperative to investigate what security measures were in place and whether they were commensurate with the known risks for criminal activity. Security measures include and range from locks and alarms at a hotel or business located in a commercial building, to security cameras, staff including security guards along with nighttime patrols and surveillance, fencing, security access cards and many others.
When selecting a negligent security attorney, it is vital that the lawyer or law firm has the experience and financial resources available to level the playing field against larger corporations. At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we have successfully handled inadequate security and premises liability cases in multiple Florida jurisdictions.
How Much is my Premises Liability Claim Worth?
This is a tricky question based on the infinite number of variables involved in determining the value of an injury notwithstanding liability. Factors involved in valuing a claim include lost wages, medical bills, projected future medical bills, and pain and suffering among many.
In Florida, a $200,000.00 sovereign immunity cap has been put in place on cases against municipalities.
If you or someone you love has been harmed on someone else’s property, the owner may be accountable for the injuries suffered. You may be able to recover compensation depending on your reasons for being on the property and the specific circumstances of your injury. An experienced premises liability attorney is your best source of reliable advice. Don’t hesitate to contact the dangerous premises attorneys at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, for your free consultation. Call us today at (727) 451-6900.