What Is Premises Liability Law Under Florida Personal Injury Law?
Under Florida personal injury law, premises liability allows an injured person to hold the property owner responsible for the injuries that occurred on their property when the owner knew or should have known that the dangerous condition existed. For example, someone goes into a grocery store and there is a spill in the aisle and the grocery store owner or manager knew or should have known the spill was there and neglected to clean it up. If the owner or manager does not warn shoppers about the spill, that store is responsible if someone trips or slips and falls on the wet floor.
What Duty Do Property Owners Owe To Visitors Under Florida Law?
Under Florida law, property owners have two duties. They have to keep the premises safe from any danger (maintained in a safe condition), and they must warn its guests of any unsafe conditions that are not obvious. Failing to do so will open the property owner to liability. For example, a bank or a grocery store or any public area may put up a yellow sign by the entrance that says, “Be careful, wet floor,” when it is raining and a person going in would be warned of that danger. The business is warning that person that the floor may be wet and dangerous.
If a business knows that a floor is wet, they need to dry it. If they know there is a spill, they need to clean it up. However, even if the manager asserts that because they did not actually know there was a spill on the floor, they are free of any responsibility for an accident, liability may still exist because they should have known about it. Perhaps they needed to inspect the area more regularly. Premises liability attorneys will look at the cleaning manuals for the employees to identify their day-to-day routine and tasks for cleaning and inspecting. The “known” or “should have known” is an important factor. Had the manager or an employee inspected the aisle at noon, at 12:15, the person would not have fallen. The manager would have seen the spill and cleaned it up or put a sign to warn any guests from falling because of the spill.
What Are Examples Of Causes Of Slip-And-Fall Or Trip-And-Fall Accidents That Commonly Occur In Central Florida?
One common cause of slip and fall or trip and fall accidents in Central Florida is rain, especially in the summer. Business owners need to keep their premises dry or at least report a hazard. Sometimes they mop the floor, and the floor becomes slippery because it was mopped. The business needs to warn their guests about the wet floor being slippery. There may be debris that fell on the floor, or shampoo, an egg, or soda on the floor. There could be broken or uneven pavement on a sidewalk or in a building. There could be a hole on the property that was not repaired and the person trips over that.
Rotten wooden stairs are another hazard. We have a case involving a similar situation where the stairway had deteriorated so severely that our client fell right through because the stairs were not properly inspected and maintained. There may be a dock at a marina where someone is walking. If the dock has not been properly maintained and someone falls there, the owner is responsible if they knew or should have known about the hazard.
Some businesses have premises liability for situations where building codes exist to make places safe, whether it be the pitch of a ramp entering a business or the elevation of an individual step going up a flight of stairs, or the presence or absence of a handrail to allow somebody to ascend or descend a flight of stairs. There are a number of statutory regulations that address those conditions. Sometimes, in the interest of the economics or apathy employers do not adhere to the regulations and as a result, stairs are too steep and are unsafe, or ramps are too steep and become very dangerous to descend them even if all other conditions are safe.
Debris or damage to the property are some sneaky premises liability issues that come up when there may not be something obvious and apparent like a foreign substance. There may be a change when there are steps going down and there is no change on the floor to alert the individual that there is a change in elevation. A lot of times the person will miss that step and fall.
Does The Area Of Comparative Or Contributory Negligence Impact Personal Injury Cases Resulting From Slip-And-Fall Or Trip-And-Fall Accidents In Florida?
The area of comparative or contributory negligence can impact personal injury cases resulting from slip and fall or trip and fall accidents in Florida just as in automobile accidents. In Florida slip and fall cases, the state recognizes pure comparative negligence. If an individual is found to be 20% at fault for a slip and fall or a premise liability accident and the other individual, the property owner is found 80% at fault, the individual would be able to recover 80% of the total damages from the other party.