Premises liability claims involve injuries that occur on another party’s property. Under Florida law, property owners must maintain and safe environment for visitors and warn them of any known dangers on their premises. When property owners fail to comply, visitors can have severe, sometimes fatal accidents. Florida law permits those who have suffered injuries as a result of property owner negligence or intentional harm to sue for damages in civil court. Victims shouldn’t have to shoulder the financial burden that accompanies a severe injury when another party’s actions or inaction caused them harm.
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries at a residence or business owned by another party in the Tampa area, contact Sibley Dolman and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) to discuss the details of your injuries with one of our skilled Tampa Premises Liability Lawyers and learn about your next steps.
Our Results in Premises Liability Cases
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman have ample experience in negotiating, settling, and litigating personal injury claims, including those involving injuries on another party’s premises. The firm’s continued dedication to professional excellence and client advocacy has led to the recovery of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for their clients.
Recent case results include a $300,000 settlement for a client who suffered injuries after falling in a poorly maintained business parking lot and an $82,000 settlement after a client experienced a shoulder injury from a slip and fall accident. These cases are only examples of past results and do not guarantee results in your premises liability case. The skilled legal team at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, however, will diligently pursue the best outcome for your individual circumstances.
Types of Premises Liability Accidents
Someone can experience many different types of injuries on another party’s property. A fall or accident can lead to broken bones, head injuries, back injuries, spinal cord injuries, neck injuries, and many other potentially dangerous or fatal injuries. Although many situations might cause accident and injury, some scenarios that occur more frequently than others include:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 20 percent of falls result in severe injuries such as broken bones or head injuries. In fact, falls are the leading cause of hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries in elders. Each year, about three million people visit emergency rooms across the nation for fall-related injuries, including 800,00 that must be hospitalized. Falls can occur anywhere, but slip and fall accidents and trip and fall accidents are among the most common accidents that most occur on another party’s property. A wide variety of scenarios might cause someone to fall.
Some examples include:
- Dilapidated buildings with loose or rotting flooring, handrails, and steps
- Dangerous construction sites that might have falling debris
- Uncleared trash on construction sites, driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, and storefronts
- Spillage or use of wet products like water, bleach, floor wax, oil, and food
- Spillage or use of dry products like sand, topsoil, sawdust, powders, granules
- Uneven walking paths, sidewalks, trails
- Worn down boating docks
Swimming Pool Accidents
Florida’s warm and sunny climate makes swimming a common pastime for those who live in the Tampa area. Yet, even with the relief from the heat and the exercise benefits of swimming, it can be dangerous when pool owners don’t safely maintain their pools. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), which is the federal agency that warns and protects consumers about dangerous products, estimates about 150 children under age 15 drown each summer. This doesn’t account for adult drownings or non-fatal swimming pool accidents. A swimming pool accident might happen in a community pool, a water theme park, a hotel, or a private home.
Examples of a pool owner’s failure to maintain their pool that might lead to a swimming pool accident include:
- Failure to inspect diving boards, filters, pumps, handrails, ladders, and steps
- Excessively slippery concrete and tiles around the pool
- Cracked concrete or tiles around the pool
- Failure to control the number of people in a pool—overcrowding
- Failure to erect a protective barrier or fence to keep small children away from the pool
- Failure to provide adult supervision or lifeguard
Theme Park Accidents
Tampa has its share of theme parks and also lies close to Orlando, the “Theme Park Capital of the World.” Tampa area residents who spend the day at one of the local theme parks can be at risk for injury. Fortunately, Florida’s large number of theme parks has prompted legislators to create laws to protect patrons with which theme park owners and operators must comply.
Florida safety regulations require parks to do frequent inspections of rides and their parts, including inspections of controllers, barrier fences, and adhering to maximum speed limits for rides. When theme park companies don’t adhere to mandatory safety regulations, visitors are in danger of severe and deadly accidents.
Some common causes of accidents on theme park rides include:
- Malfunctioning lap bars or restraints
- Improper or incomplete employee training
- Failure to inspect rides
- Poor maintenance practices
- Distracted ride operators whose errors can cause an accident
- Failure to warn riders of potential risks and hazards associated with specific rides
Elevator and Escalator Accidents
Escalators and elevators offer convenience and help those who use them move swiftly and safely in shopping malls, hotels, airports, and other large buildings. Yet, when they are not properly maintained or haven’t been installed correctly, users can get injured.
Some problems with elevators and escalators that might cause an accident and injury include:
- Poor elevator, escalator, or building design
- Improper installation that might include loose parts or missing parts
- Sudden stops on escalators
- Sudden elevator drops
- Irregular or no maintenance or inspections
- Malfunctioning elevator doors
- Incorrect elevator landings
- Side step entrapment on escalators, especially dangerous for young children
Lack of Building Security
Providing a safe environment for those who visit a property includes maintaining building and property security. What constitutes ‘good’ security is highly subjective, and can include many things depending on the exact property, its location, and potential security threats. Maintaining security might include the installation of proper lighting in outdoor spaces, using a security gate, or having a restricted access policy. If a visitor gets mugged, shot, stabbed, or assaulted, the property owner might share liability with the perpetrator if they haven’t secured their premises and protected their visitors from outside danger.
Fires and Explosions
Many different conditions or substances might cause a fire or explosion on another party’s property. Flammable substances, electrical shorts, lit cigars, or cigarettes are some examples. When a visitor suffers burns or other injuries as a result of a fire or explosion, a Florida court might find the property owner liable for some or all damages related to the injuries.
Burns are among the most expensive injuries a person can suffer. Burn victims who suffer severe burns usually need one or more cosmetic and corrective surgeries with skin grafts. Burn victims must also undergo months or years of recovery and have a good chance of permanent scarring. Fires and explosions don’t occur as frequently as other premises liability accidents, but they alter one’s life in unimaginable ways.
Types of Visitors in Florida Premises Liability Cases
Individuals, small businesses, large corporations, or a government entity such as the City of Tampa or the State of Florida might be named in a personal injury lawsuit after an injury occurs on their property. Florida law requires owners to safely maintain their properties for visitors, but the extent to which an owner owes this to a visitor depends on the type of visitor. Like most states, Florida categorizes visitors into invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Descriptions of each type of visitor and the duty a property owner owes them are as follows:
Florida distinguishes between public invitees and business invitees. Public invitees have been invited onto property meant for public use; the owner must warn them of known dangers or dangers that the owner should have known about. The property owner must also correct known hazards. Some common examples of public invitees include families who visit a public playground and people who attend art fairs, craft fairs, music festivals, or other events at a public park or public space.
Business invitees are people who visit a property to conduct business directly or indirectly. Property owners have the same legal obligations towards business invitees as they do public invitees. Some examples of business invitees include patients at a professional office, such as a dentist’s office, an accounting firm, or a marketing agency. Retail shoppers at one of Tampa’s shopping malls, visitors to theme parks, and restaurant goers are also business invitees.
Licensees also have two different classifications under Florida law: licensees by invitation and uninvited licensees. Invited licensees refer to family, friends, and other social guests that might come to someone’s residence. Property owners have the same legal obligations towards invited licensees that they do towards invitees, and must also protect both groups from third-party crime that might occur on their property.
Uninvited licensees visit the property of others for their own purposes and convenience. Some common examples include a technician from the electric company who reads the meter each month, or package delivery people. Property owners cannot intentionally harm or maintain dangerous conditions to harm uninvited licensees, but they owe them no other legal duty.
People who go onto another party’s property without their permission have legal protection from intentional harm by the property owner, but Florida law grants them no other rights unless they are child trespassers.
When Children Are Trespassers
Child trespassers have protection under Florida law, so their visitor status does not matter if they suffer an injury on another party’s property. This protection stems from the attractive nuisance doctrine, which refers to the idea that some things attract children to trespass. If a child suffers harm or injury, or dies when trespassing, a Tampa property owner might be liable for some or all damages related to the accident and injury.
The courts apply this doctrine to a wide array of fixtures and items that might be on an owner’s premises, but the following are some of the most common and dangerous attractive nuisances:
- Swimming pools. Property owners must keep a barrier or fence around their swimming pools. If a child wanders near a pool and gets hurt or drowns, homeowners might be liable.
- Playground equipment. Backyard play equipment such as tree houses, swing sets, trampolines, and ramps for skateboarding can lead to serious, sometimes fatal injuries, especially when adults aren’t nearby to supervise.
- Construction sites.Young children love construction sites because they have a wide array of things to explore and climb on such as piles of rocks and dirt, heavy machinery, and empty buildings.
Seeking Compensation in Florida Premises Liability Cases
If you or your child have sustained injuries on another party’s property as a consequence of the property owner’s negligence or willful harm, Florida law permits you to seek compensation for damages related to the injury and accompanying losses. Some common damages victims recover in settlements or verdicts in favor of the plaintiff include:
- Medical treatment costs such as ambulance and emergency services, hospitalization, diagnostic imaging, surgery, medication, and followup visits
- Future medical treatment costs for severe injuries that require ongoing care or long recovery times
- Lost wages for missing work as a result of injury, treatment, and recovery
- Lost future wages when a catastrophic injury prevents someone from returning to work
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss in quality of life
- Loss of consortium with a spouse
- Other non-economic damages that might apply to a case
- Punitive damages in cases of intentional harm or gross negligence
Tampa Premises Liability FAQ
After an accident on someone else’s property, especially a commercial property, you may have a substantial questions about your legal right to compensation. If you have questions that pertain to your specific premises liability accident, contact an attorney for a consultation that will help address some of your most important needs.
Question 1: When do I have grounds for a premises liability claim?
You can file a premises liability claim when you suffer injuries in an accident on someone else’s property due to the negligence of the property owner or manager.
To file the claim, your attorney will need to show:
- The owner or manager of the property violated the duty of care to visitors to that property
- That violation caused an accident
- You suffered injuries due to that accident
Question 2: What steps must a property owner or manager take to protect visitors to that property?
Property owners and managers, especially the owners and managers of commercial properties, must help ensure the safety of visitors to their properties. They must:
Identify potential hazards. Commercial properties, in particular, should receive regular inspections to help identify any potential dangers on the property, including:
- Slip and fall hazards
- Items that could fall on visitors’ heads, especially on construction sites
- Features, including elevators and swimming pools, that require additional maintenance or upkeep
Take care of any needed repairs or maintenance. Premises owners and managers should keep up with important maintenance that will help protect visitors to that property. Failure to conduct regular maintenance could result in additional hazards to visitors to the property, from mechanical failures to broken flooring or stairs.
Clearly label any hazards visitors need to know about. Premises owners and managers may not immediately remove all hazards upon identification. In some cases, premises owners may need time to conduct needed repairs. Conducting those repairs may also create temporary hazards in a building. Premises owners and managers should limit guest access to those areas and clearly label them to prevent accidents.
Provide emergency escape routes. if needed. Commercial properties, in particular, should have clearly marked fire escape routes that provide a clear means of exit in the event of an emergency.
Question 3: What steps should I take if I suffer an injury on a commercial property?
The actions you take immediately after an accident on a commercial property can have substantial bearing on the compensation you receive for your injuries. To help protect yourself:
Report the accident to the facility immediately. The facility staff should file a report about the accident. This report will provide proof of the time and date of the accident. The facility may also have a policy in place that helps cover any potential accidents, including an action plan that will reduce the risk of accidents for other guests.
Take photos. If you can safely take pictures of the accident scene or have a companion who can take care of that task for you, take photos of the scene of the accident. Include pictures of any specific elements that may have led to your injuries, from a puddle of water on the floor and a lack of signs to unsafe handrails or rotting stairs. These photos can provide vital evidence of neglect on the part of the premises owner and/or manager.
Seek medical attention immediately. Many people try to skip medical care after suffering supposed minor injuries in a slip and fall or other premises liability accidents. If you suffer any injury, including lacerations that may require stitches, puncture wounds that could require a tetanus shot or other medical care, or a suspected sprain or strain, seek medical attention immediately. If you hit your head and lost consciousness, even for only a few seconds, you could have a concussion, which requires careful monitoring.
Not only does seeking medical attention ensure that you do not miss a potentially dangerous injury and reduce the odds of complications, it shows that your injuries actually occurred in that location, during that accident. Failure to seek medical attention could give the insurance company that covers the premises grounds to suggest that your injury occurred at a different time, which could prevent you from getting the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Contact an attorney as soon as possible. If you suffered injuries in a premises liability accident, you may have grounds to file a premises liability claim. Consult an attorney as soon after your accident as possible to receive advice about what steps you should take next.
Question 4: When should I contact an attorney after a Tampa premises liability accident?
You should contact an attorney as soon as possible after suffering injuries in a premises liability accident. An attorney can provide vital aid even in the early stages after your accident, including:
Collecting evidence. The longer you wait to collect evidence after a premises liability accident, the harder it can prove to find that vital evidence. The premises owner or manager may make quick repairs to the area where you suffered your injury to prevent future guests from suffering similar injuries.
Video footage often gets deleted quickly: some facilities keep their video footage for only a few days before recording over it with more current footage, unless the facility has a reason to keep that data. Even witness statements often prove more accurate in the early days after the accident, since memory fades quickly after an event.
Providing guidance. An experienced premises liability attorney can provide you with the guidelines you need to successfully file a premises liability claim following a premises liability accident.
This may include information like:
- When to file your claim
- What information you need to include as part of your claim
- How much compensation you should expect for your injuries
Question 5: When should I file a personal injury claim after a premises liability accident?
Your attorney will provide specific advice about when to file a premises liability claim after an accident. Sometimes, you may choose to file that claim immediately. In other cases, you may wait several weeks or even months before filing your premises liability claim.
You may need to wait to file if:
- Your attorney needs more time to investigate the accident. Your attorney may note that multiple parties contributed to your premises liability accident. Sometimes, both owner and manager of the property may share liability. In other accidents, other entities—a construction company currently working on the property, for example—may share liability for your injuries. Your attorney may need more time to investigate the accident to clearly identify all parties who share liability for your injuries.
- You need more time to recover from your injuries. You do not have to wait until you make a full recovery to file your premises liability claim. Your attorney, however, may advise moving further through the healing process before you file your premises liability claim. In the case of a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury, for example, you may need to wait several months to fully understand how your injuries will continue to impact the rest of your life, which can influence your claim. In the case of severe burns, you may need to move through more of the healing process to get a better idea of what complications you will face during recovery and how much your medical bills will ultimately cost.
You must file your premises liability claim before the statute of limitations runs out; however, many exceptions exist that can help extend those limitations and give you time to heal or time to develop a solid understanding of your medical expenses before filing your premises liability claim. Consult a premises liability lawyer to get a better idea of when to file your claim.
Question 6: How much compensation should I expect from a Tampa premises liability accident?
The compensation victims receive from premises liability accidents varies. However, you should expect to include several common elements in your premises liability claim:
- Medical bills
- Wages lost because you missed time at work after your accident
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Compensation for lost earning potential, if you cannot return to work in your former capacity due to your injuries
Consult a Tampa premises liability lawyer to develop a stronger estimate of the funds you deserve after your accident.
Question 7: The insurance company that covers the premises owner contacted me a few days after my accident and offered me a settlement. Should I accept it?
You should consult an attorney before accepting any offer provided to you by an insurance company. Some insurance companies will provide a settlement offer that looks fair on the surface, but that fails to take the full extent of your injuries and your medical bills into account. If you accept this offer, it will prevent you from seeking further compensation from the insurance company or from the entity that caused your accident. Instead, talk to a premises liability attorney to determine whether you should accept the offer or continue to negotiate.
Question 8: Can I file a premises liability claim if I suffer an injury on private property, instead of at a business or other commercial property?
Homeowners, like businesses, must take steps to protect guests to their properties in the event of an accident. Most homeowners carry insurance that will help provide compensation in the event of severe injury or death on their properties. Homeowners may, however, have different obligations to visitors to their properties than business owners. Consult an attorney to learn whether you have grounds for a premises liability claim against a homeowner after a serious accident.
Question 9: What types of dangers typically lead to Tampa premises liability claims?
Many types of dangers can cause injuries both in businesses and on private property, from hotels or cruise ships to stores and even private properties.
Common hazards include:
- Poorly-maintained handrails
- Broken steps or flooring
- Pools with inadequate fencing or protection
- Slippery floors
- Electrical hazards
- Store displays that fall on customers
- Improperly maintained equipment that causes an accident
Any injury suffered on a specific property due to the negligence of that property owner can leave the victim with grounds for a premises liability claim. Consult an attorney to learn more about your rights.
Question 10: Do I have to have an attorney to file a premises liability claim?
An experienced premises liability attorney can help you through every step of filing a premises liability claim: not just filing the claim itself, but also ensuring that you do not miss out on compensation you deserve for your injuries. Many victims find that having an attorney on their side increases the compensation offered by the insurance company. More importantly, should a liable party refuse to negotiate or agree to a reasonable settlement, it may be necessary to litigate your claim in court; it is unwise to do so without an attorney.
- Peace of mind due to having an attorney on their side. An attorney can take over many of the negotiations associated with your premises liability claim, reducing stress and preventing you from dealing with those concerns on your own.
- Easier evidence collection. An attorney often has access to sources you may not. An attorney may find it easier to collect video footage of the accident or properly collect witness statements.
The cost of not having an attorney to aid in your premises liability claim often rises far higher than the cost of the attorney—and the cost of a lawyer is actually nothing in premises liability cases like premises liability. We offer a free consultation after your premises liability accident to learn more about your case and show what assistance our experienced Tampa premises liability attorneys can provide. Then we work on contingency—so you pay us nothing, and we only collect a percentage of any judgment or settlement we help you to recover.
Question 11: Do I have grounds for a premises liability claim if I suffered an attack on the business’s property?
Business owners and property managers have an obligation to provide a safe experience for visitors to their property. In some cases, if you suffer an attack while on that property, you may have grounds for a premises liability claim, even if the attack came from another patron. Consult our experienced Tampa premises liability attorneys to learn what right you have to compensation following injuries from an attack.
Get the Legal Help You Need from a Tampa Premises Liability Lawyer
When property owners don’t maintain a safe environment and it causes you harm, you deserve compensation for your injuries. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman represent injured victims in Tampa and throughout Florida. Contact us at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) or online for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances with one of our skilled premises liability attorneys. We are here to advocate for you, and help you through this challenging time.