Attorneys Answer Frequently Asked Questions About Premises Liability Accident
The landlord or owner of a property has a duty to the patrons, visitors, guests, or inhabitants to keep the facility safe and free of crime. This applies whether the property is a hotel, an amusement park, a store, a university, an arena, or a swimming pool. Every year thousands of Floridians are hurt in public spaces, whether from a fall or criminal activity. The injuries can be horrifying and expensive to recover from.
Clients often have questions, here are a few:
A: A patron falls on the property because of liquid on the floor or an unmarked hole or a broken stair. These are slip and fall cases that claim the property owner was negligent in failing to correct an existing dangerous condition that caused the victim to be injured from a slip, fall, trip or stumble. Falls of this type can result in back and hip injuries, paralysis, broken bones, and even paralysis.
A: Yes. If the hotel did not clean up spilled food or drink around a pool, a bar, lobby, or restaurant. Perhaps there is an accumulation of snow and ice on the walkway or a tile floor is wet. If the hotel knew about or should have known about the potential for danger and failed to warn visitors, they could be facing a premises liability lawsuit.
A: The business owner is expected to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition and warn visitors if a hazard is present. An invitee is a social guest or visitor invited onto the property. If the owner fails to exercise reasonable care so the invitee can visit the property without injury, the owner could be liable for a slip and fall premises liability lawsuit.
If however the visitor is a trespasser, it is not reasonable that the property owner could have known to keep the property in a safe condition for that person. In that case, the trespasser might shoulder more of the liability with the exception of children, who are known to visit unannounced. If the property is known to attract children, even trespassers, the owner is expected to exercise some care in keeping the facility or place safe.
A: If the hotel should have known or anticipated a crime could occur on its property, it could be held liable, especially if the area is known for crime, or there has been criminal activity on the property in the past. If the owner could have prevented it by providing better lighting, extra security, or notified the public about the dangers, he could be held liable. If the hotel did not install locks on windows and doors, it could be held at least partially liable.
The reasonableness standard requires the property be cared for to ensure the safety of the visitor. It is reasonable for an owner to repair a property and to inspect the property to identify dangerous conditions. An owner can be found liable if he did not take reasonable steps to fix the dangerous condition. Questions should be asked to determine reasonableness such as – did the owner assign a repair job to an employee who failed to act? Was there adequate lighting and had there been prior injuries? Were there signs warning of a hazard? Was it an easy or inexpensive “fix” to make the property safer?
A: In Florida the law is clear. In the case of a slip and fall, the fault can be distributed among at least two people, the visitor and the owner. Comparative fault assigns a portion of the blame on every party. For example, a person trips on the stone walkway perhaps was not steady enough on their feet to walk a stone path with its nooks and crannies. The fault can be divided in any proportion. Unless a construction company constructs barriers on the sidewalk, a sign may not be enough to tell a pedestrian they could be injured on the uneven walkway that is under construction.
There may be a deadline within which to file an action, such as a municipality in a slip and fall in a public street. Farah & Farah has Jacksonville FL premises liability attorneys who work in the area of slip and fall and can advise you on fault, damages, recovery, and liability.