Articles Posted in Premise Liability

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In Florida, if you get injured on someone else’s property, whether it is a private home or a business frequented by the general public, the law that controls whether the property owner is liable is known as premises liability law.  The basic rule is that a land owner will be liable to an injured guest in many situations, but it depends on the reason plaintiff was on the property at the time of the accident.

Deerfield Beach Injury LawAt common law, and still today, there is a distinction between licensees and invitees. A Licensee is someone who is on the property solely for his or her own enjoyment.  Basically, this person is on the property and is not benefiting the landowner.  This comes from a landmark legal decision from the Supreme Court of Florida entitled Stewart v. Texas (1953).  In this case, it was held that landowner only owes a duty to warn of known dangers, keep the property in reasonably safe condition, or intentionally places plaintiff in harm’s way.  An example of a business licensee would be someone who comes into a store to get change for a parking meter, but not to purchase anything. Continue reading →

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Anytime personal injury lawsuits are settled, there may be terms and conditions that must be read carefully. There are some situations wherein the language could prohibit any and all future claims against other potential defendants – and that may not be a scenario you want, depending on the circumstances. mechanic

In a recent appellate case out of California, the language of an earlier settlement agreement became an issue in a subsequent personal injury lawsuit filed by a mechanic against a property owner. The question before the appellate court was whether plaintiff’s claim against these entities was barred because of a settlement with one defendant

Here’s what happened: In 2011, plaintiff, a mechanic, was hired by the auto sales company to figure out why a vehicle owned by the sales firm wouldn’t start. Unbeknownst to plaintiff, the towing company had recently towed the vehicle to the site and disconnected the transmission shift linkage when it did this. However, the towing company employee did not reconnect the shift linkage. Plaintiff said he put the vehicle in park and climbed underneath to troubleshoot. When he went to test the electrical connection to the starter, the vehicle ran over him and dragged him through the parking lot.

Plaintiff’s spine was crushed.  Continue reading →

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In the height of this holiday shopping season, patrons should feel safe when they get to the store. That means there should be adequate security and lighting. Boxes should be safely stacked. Spills should be promptly cleaned up. Employees should be regularly checking the site for possible hazards to minimize the risks. shopping cart

Property owners owe business invitees the highest duty of care to make sure the site is free of unreasonable hazards. However, if a patron does encounter a danger and is injured as a result, he or she will still face challenges in asserting liability and obtaining compensation. Specifically as it pertains to slip-and-fall hazards, F.S. 768.o755 spells out the stringent proof burden plaintiffs have to meet in order to prevail in an injury lawsuit against a business. In these cases, plaintiff has to show:

  • The business had actual knowledge of the dangerous condition.
  • The dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that, had the business been using due care, the business establishment should have known about it.
  • The condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.

Continue reading →

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The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled in the Orlando negligent security lawsuit of Anderson v. Hilton Hotel that plaintiff is entitled to have his attorney’s fees covered, per F.S. 768.79 and Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.442.parking lot

Plaintiff’s victory comes after he won $1.7 million in damages from four different defendants, though three of those were characterized as a single entity during trial. It was this issue that complicated the matter of whether plaintiff was entitled to attorney fees.

Normally, personal injury plaintiffs do not pay attorney fees upfront. Instead, lawyers offer services on a contingency fee basis, which means clients pay nothing upfront and agree to sign over a portion of their damage awards if they win (usually somewhere around 30 percent, though it varies depending on the facts/ complexity of the case). This type of agreement allows more meritorious civil actions to make their way into court, rather than creating an impossible bar for persons with limited means. However, there are situations in which the other side can be ordered to pay attorneys’ fees to the winner. For a plaintiff, this occurs when a reasonable settlement offer is made, not accepted within 30 days and then plaintiff wins the case, being awarded in excess of 25 percent of that original offer.  Continue reading →

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When someone suffers a work-related injury, typically the only remedy they have against the employer is a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. However, the exclusivity provision of workers’ compensation law does not prohibit injured workers or their families from seeking compensation from negligent third parties. In some cases, that could include the owner of the property where the work was being conducted. propane

One such case was recently weighed by an appellate court in California. In Regalado v. Callaghan, justices were asked to consider whether the trial court made any mistakes that resulted in a finding that a homeowner was liable for the injuries suffered by an employee of a pool contractor. Jurors at trial had found the homeowner 40 percent liable for the worker’s injuries based on theories of negligence and premises liability and ordered him to pay $3 million in damages.

According to court records, the homeowner was a licensed subcontractor who wanted to build a “dream house” for his wife in the Coachella Valley. He acted as an owner-builder for his home project, meaning he obtained the permits for construction and served as the person responsible for overseeing the construction – similar to the role a general contractor would take on. Continue reading →

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The family of a teen foreign exchange student who was fatally shot outside of a nightclub in Portland, Ore. will be allowed to continue pursuit of their premises liability lawsuit following a new ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court.nightclub1

Peruvian Martha Paz de Noboa Delgado was killed in 2009 as she waited outside of a teen nightclub with a group of other foreign exchange students. She had been dropped off at the location, reportedly in a rough part of town, by her host family. She was just 17-years-old. It was later revealed the 24-year-old gunman suffered from schizophrenia. He opened fire on the group of students, wounding seven and killing two before turning the gun on himself.

Delgado’s estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit, Piazza v. Kellim, against the nightclub and related companies, as well as against the foreign exchange organization. The $1.8 million claim argues that the owners of the club and related firms failed to take reasonable measures to protect customers. Namely, they forced young patrons to wait outside in what they knew was a high-crime area. The club and others nearby had a long history of problems with crime, and yet did not allow customers to wait inside for entry. The lawsuit further asserts the club did not have sufficient security. Against the student foreign exchange program, plaintiffs asserted a failure to provide adequate training to the host family.  Continue reading →

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Last month’s Orlando gay nightclub shooting proved the deadliest in national history, and prompted a flurry of fierce debate on what to do to address issues of terrorism, homophobia and access to firearms. Another less widely covered issue was that of security guard screening, and it’s relevant to injury lawyers who handle Florida premises liability lawsuits. securityguard

The 29-year-old gunman who killed 50 and injured 53 at Pulse was identified by officials as Omar Mateen, a U.S. citizen whose father was native to Afghanistan. Mateen worked as a security guard for a company called G4S Plc. It’s a British company with clients in more than 100 countries, including the U.S. He had been employed by the company since 2007. The company’s U.S. headquarters is in Jupiter, FL and it employs some 611,000 people globally in prisons, airports, ports, cash transport services and more.

After the shooting, questions arose regarding to what extent Mateen was screened. We know that he, along with every other armed guard in Florida, has to be certified officially as mentally and emotionally stable. But how exactly is that done? According to Security Info Watch, an industry publication, there was no point at which a psychologist ever sat down and reviewed his records or talked to those who knew him or even interviewed him face-to-face. The determination for who is “mentally and emotionally stable” is done with a written personality test that is standard for all guards. These tests offer a host of true-false questions that are then assessed by a contracted psychologist.  Continue reading →

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Property owners have a legal duty to make sure their property is reasonably safe for those who lawfully enter. Those with the highest duty of care – which includes the responsibility to routinely inspect the property for possible hazards – are those owners whose properties are open to the public for the financial benefit of the owner. Those would include:

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Shopping Centers
  • Night clubs
  • Amusement parkscurb

This duty can be breached when a property owner fails to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition, fails to correct a dangerous condition about which they knew or should have known and/ or failed to warn of that dangerous condition – and the result is an invitee is injured.

In the recent case of Grimes v. Family Dollar Stores of Florida, Inc., et al., plaintiff filed a lawsuit against a commercial tenant, a landowner and a hired landscaper after suffering a fall outside the store.  Continue reading →

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Property owners and property managers have a responsibility to make sure their site is safe for lawful guests. This duty includes residential landlords, who have many responsibilities to their tenants and tenant guests, including ensuring they are safe from an unreasonable risk of harm. apartmentrental

This could include things like:

  • Broken stairways
  • Unlit parking lots
  • Lack of security/ locks on the doors
  • Not having working smoke detectors

A recent case of Lompe v. Sunridge Partners before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit shows how landlords and property management companies can be liable for failing to make sure their properties are in safe condition. In this situation, it was a broken HVAC system that was the source of serious injury for a young college student. Continue reading →

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In general, property owners and managers are bound by law to ensure lawful guests – particularly consumers and members of the public – are reasonably safe from foreseeable harms on that property.fireworks

However, there is one major exception, and it’s important to understand when it might apply. It’s called the “Recreational Use Statute,” and every state has one. In Florida, it’s codified in F.S. 375.251. The intention is to compel large land owners to allow public use of their property for recreational purposes by significantly reducing any potential liability he or she might face for injury by those guests.

Florida’s recreational use statute states that no land owner or lessee who provides the public with a park area or land for outdoor recreation cannot be presumed to extend any assurance that the area, land or water is safe for any purpose. The term “outdoor recreational purposes” can include (but isn’t limited to) activities that include things like swimming, boating, hiking, picnicking, motorcycling, pleasure driving, hunting and more. Continue reading →

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