Premises liability cases are those dealing with injuries that occur on another party’s property. Florida law requires property owners to maintain a safe environment for visitors. When property owners fail to uphold that duty, accidents can happen. Florida law allows people who have sustained injuries due to a property owner’s negligence to seek compensation for damages in civil court. No one should have to suffer the financial consequences of a serious injury when someone else caused it.
If you have suffered injuries at a residence or business owned by someone else and you live in the Clearwater area, contact Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) for a free consultation to discuss the details of your accident and injuries.
Our Results in Premises Liability Cases
The skilled legal team at Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman have extensive experience negotiating settlements and litigating on behalf of injured clients, including those who were injured on another person’s property. Our firm has recovered millions of dollars in damages in settlements and lawsuits. Recent examples include a $300,000 settlement for a client who tripped and fell in a poorly maintained restaurant parking lot and an $82,000 settlement for a client who suffered a shoulder injury in a slip and fall accident. These results are only examples and do not predict the outcome of any specific case. But the experienced premises liability attorneys at Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman aggressively pursue the best results in every case we take on.
What Are Premises Liability Accidents?
Although many different scenarios lead to premises accidents and injuries, some situations that commonly give rise to premises liability lawsuits include:
Slips, Trips, and Falls
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one out of five falls results in a severe injury. In fact, falls are the most common cause of hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Falls are always at the top of the list of the types of accidents that most often lead to a premises liability lawsuit. Many scenarios can lead to a slip and fall or trip and fall accident that causes a serious injury. Some common hazards include:
- Old buildings with loose steps, loose tiles, and loose handrails
- Uncleared debris or trash in driveways, parking lots, and entrances
- Wet or slippery products and spills on walking surfaces like water, cleaning products, oil, food, or floor wax
- Dry products or spills on walking surfaces like sawdust, sand, or powders
- Falling debris
- Uneven sidewalks, trails, and walkways
Elevator and Escalator Accidents
Whether someone is at the airport, a shopping mall, a hotel, or large office building, they can suffer injuries when they use an escalator or elevator. These machines provide a valuable service to people by helping them move safely and quickly from one floor to another, but if the escalator or elevator has been installed improperly or poorly maintained, people using them can suffer severe injuries. Some issues that might lead to an elevator or escalator accident include:
- Poor design
- Incorrect installation, which can include missing or loose parts
- Sudden stops on escalators
- Elevator drops
- Irregular or poor maintenance
- Faulty elevator doors
- An elevator landing incorrectly
- Escalator entrapment
Theme Park Accidents
Orlando is commonly referred to as the ‘Theme Park Capital of the World,’ and many popular theme parks are scattered throughout Florida. Both residents and tourists enjoy spending time at theme parks to take respite from the pressures of everyday life. But an accident can turn a fun time at a theme park into a nightmare. Florida law requires theme parks to follow certain safety regulations, which include regularly inspecting all rides and their components, employing ride controllers, installing fences around dangerous areas and machinery, and obeying maximum ride speeds. Some theme park ride issues that might lead to an injury include:
- Broken or defective restraints or lap bars
- Failure to warn passengers of risks, especially passengers with medical conditions
- Distracted ride operators who make mistakes
- Inadequate employee training
- Inadequate inspection and maintenance practices
Swimming Pool Accidents
According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC)–the federal agency tasked with protecting consumers from dangerous products–approximately 150 children age 14 and under drown each summer in the U.S. This doesn’t include drowning incidents involving adults or non-fatal pool accidents that result in severe injury. Swimming is a fun and healthy way to pass time on hot summer days, but negligent pool owners and managers can make it more dangerous than it needs to be. Pool accidents can occur at private residences, hotels, water parks, or community pools. Some common scenarios that can lead to a pool accident include:
- Inadequate pool maintenance like failing to inspect pumps, filters, steps, drains, and diving boards
- Lack of fencing or other barriers to keep small children away from a pool
- Absence of safety items like flotation devices or ring buoys
- Slippery or cracked tiles and concrete
- Lack of adult or lifeguard supervision
Lack of Building Security
Part of maintaining a safe environment for visitors includes providing adequate building security. In some cases, this might be as simple as making sure outside spaces are well-lit, or restricting public access to the building. The idea of “security” is broad and can cover a lot of things depending on the situation. And if a person gets mugged, sexually assaulted, stabbed, shot, or intentionally harmed in any other way on someone else’s property, the perpetrator is not the only party who may be liable. Depending on the circumstances of the event, a court might also hold a property owner liable in a premises liability suit for not providing necessary security to protect visitors from danger.
Explosions, electrical shorts, lit cigarette butts, and a wide variety of other things might cause a fire at home, retail business, restaurant, bar, hotel, or other public venue. When visitors sustain injuries or lose a loved one in a fire, a court might hold the property owner liable for some or all fire-related damages to that person. Burn injuries can sometimes take multiple corrective surgeries and months of recovery to heal, and victims are sometimes scarred for life. While fires are not as common as some other premises liability accidents, they are serious events that can cause life-changing injuries.
Visitor Status in Florida Premises Liability Cases
Property owners who might be responsible for damages to injured visitors can be individuals, businesses, or government entities like the State of Florida or the City of Clearwater. As described above, property owners have a legal duty to maintain a safe environment for visitors. But whether and how the visitor was invited onto the property determines the extent of that duty. Florida recognizes three categories of visitors: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. An explanation of these categories and the extent of a property owner’s obligations towards each type of visitor are described below.
- Public invitee. These guests have been invited onto a property meant for public use and the owner has the duty to warn them of any dangers and to correct any problems of which the property owner is aware. Some examples of public invitees are concert goers attending a show at a public park or families using a public playground.
- Business invitee. These guests are people who go onto a property for direct or indirect business reasons. Property owners have the same legal obligations to business invitees as they do to public invitees. Business invitees might include diners at a restaurant or retail shoppers.
- Licensee by invitation. Under Florida law, invited licensees are social guests, who are typically the property owner’s friends and family. Property owners have the same duty of reasonable care to them as they do to invitees. Owners must also provide invitees and social guests reasonable protection from third-party crime.
- Uninvited licensee. These are people who visit another person’s property for their own convenience. Examples includes the utility employee who reads a house’s electric meter each month or a delivery person. Property owners must refrain intentionally harming uninvited licensees, but they don’t owe them the same level of reasonable care as they do an invitee or invited licensee.
- Trespassers. A trespasser is a person who enters someone else’s property without permission. A property owner may not purposefully harm a trespasser, but trespassers have no other rights under Florida law unless they are children.
Child Trespassers and Attractive Nuisances
Property owners have some obligation to keep trespassing children safe from any “attractive nuisance” on their property. An attractive nuisance is something that tempts a child to trespass. If a child is injured or dies while trespassing because of an attractive nuisance, a court might sometimes hold the property owner liable. Attractive nuisances include a wide variety of objects and fixtures on a person’s property, but the following are some of the most common and dangerous attractive nuisances:
- Swimming pools without fencing or a locked pool area can tempt a child to wander into the pool and get injured or drown.
- Play equipment like trampolines, swing sets, tree houses, and skateboard ramps can cause children injury if they are not being supervised by an adult while they are playing.
- Construction sites attract children to play in piles of dirt or sand, large and exciting machinery, or empty buildings open for exploration.
Recovering Damages in Florida Premises Liability Cases
If you or your child has suffered an injury or been killed on another person’s property because of the property owner’s negligence or intentionally harmful actions, Florida law entitles you to seek compensation for damages related to your injuries or loss. Some common damages recovered in settlements or awarded by courts in premises liability cases include:
- Medical expenses including ambulance rides, emergency room visits, hospital stays, x-rays, surgery, medication, and aftercare
- Future medical expenses for severe injuries that require extensive recovery or lifelong care
- Lost wages for time away from work due to injuries, hospitalization, and recovery
- Lost earning capacity when a severe injury prevents a person from returning to their job or forces them to change professions
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish, scarring and disfigurement, and any other non-economic loss that might apply to a particular case
Comparative Fault in Florida Premises Liability Cases
Property owners and their insurance carriers will do what they can to avoid financial liability if they are named as a defendant in a lawsuit. Florida courts apply pure comparative fault to most personal injury cases, including those involving premises liability issues. This means that once the court finds the defendant negligent, they assign a percentage of fault to each party named in the lawsuit. If the court finds that the plaintiff (the person who filed the lawsuit) is some percentage at fault, the court deducts that percentage from the plaintiff’s total damages.
For example, you slip and fall at your local grocery store and suffer a horrible head injury, so you sue for $500,000 in damages. But the court finds that you were distracted by your phone as evidenced by the store video, so you are 20 percent at fault. In this example, you cannot collect more than 80 percent, or $400,000, in damages.
Contact a Skilled Clearwater Premises Liability Lawyer
Sustaining a severe injury can be a life-changing event that can come with emotional and financial stress over and above the pain and stress of the physical injury. If you or a loved one was injured, you deserve compensation for your losses if they were a result of a property owner’s failure to uphold their legal duty.
If you live in the Clearwater area, you can reach Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH). We represent injured victims throughout Florida and advocate for them to get the resolution they deserve. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss the details of your accident and injury. If you choose to work with Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman, we handle most cases on a contingency basis. This means we don’t ask for any money upfront, and we only collect fees from any compensation we secure for you in a settlement or verdict in your favor.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765