Articles Posted in Premise Liability

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Over the holidays, our South Florida injury lawyers field many calls those hurt in a slip-and-fall accident. It is not always possible to avoid a slip during holidays because so many potential hazards abound. Our hope is that by highlighting them here, we can raise awareness and help people avoid a fall or at least some of the most serious outcomes.slip during holidays

Of course, slip-and-fall accidents can happen at almost any time. However, many suffer a slip during holidays because often their guard is down. Folks are understandably distracted, walking to and from stores, in parking lots, carrying packages, wrangling small children, attending parties and decorating. When a slip during holidays occurs at your own home, there may be little you can do to obtain compensate – unless the fall was owing to a defective ladder or other defective product. However, when you are a guest in someone else’s home or at a hotel or as a customer in a store, you are owed a duty of care by the property owner to make sure you are not put at unreasonable risk of injury due to unforeseen and non-obvious dangers.

From the perspective of a South Florida injury lawyer, it’s important to point out that the fact that you fell isn’t grounds in and of itself to collect damages. Florida slip-and-fall law is codified in F.S. 768.0755. It stipulates that if a person falls on a transitory foreign substance on the floor of a business establishment, that person must prove the business had either actual or constructive knowledge of the condition – and failed to take action to remedy it. Actual knowledge would mean employees knew about that specific hazard. Constructive knowledge means either that the slippery floor either existed for such a length of time that the business should have discovered in the course of using ordinary care OR that it occurred with some regulatory and thus was foreseeable.  Continue reading →

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There are an estimated 423,000 hotel rooms in Florida, spread across nearly 4,520 properties, according to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations. As an experienced Orlando hotel injury attorney can explain, owners of hotels and resorts aren’t required to guarantee their guests will never be hurt on site. They do however owe a duty of care to provide guests with a property that is safe, clean and free of conditions that are foreseeably dangerous. When they fail to provide this, it’s considered a duty of care breach, and companies can be liable for injuries that result.Orlando hotel injury lawyer

Florida hotel injury cases fall into a category of tort claims known as premises liability. Because guests of a hotel or resort are presumably there for the benefit of the property owner, they are deemed “business invitees” under Florida law and, as such, are owed the highest legal duty of care by the business. That means not only to property owners (and managers) have a responsibility to warn of or correct known dangers on site, they must also routinely inspect the property for any dangerous conditions that may otherwise be unknown.

Premises owners and occupiers have a duty to warn of or correct known dangerous condition on the premises – and to regularly inspect the premises for any unknown dangerous conditions. For example, an Orlando hotel injury attorney might file an injury claim on your behalf if the hotel or resort owner failed to promptly discover and/ or clean a spill from the floor in the lobby or a broken stairway railing. If we can help prove it was this breach of care that caused your injuries, you have a strong case for damages. These can include all related medical bills and expenses, lost wages/ time off work, out-of-pocket expenses, loss of earning capacity, inconvenience, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of spousal support, etc.  Continue reading →

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A recent decision by a California appellate court has held that a golf course does owe a duty to use reasonable care to those playing golf to protect them from wasp nests on site. Such cases fall under the umbrella of premises liability, and pertain to the expectation that those who welcome guests onto their property have a responsibility to make sure they are reasonably safe, and that they are warned about dangerous conditions about which the owner/ manager knows or should know.Orlando golf course injury lawyer

As our Orlando injury lawyers have seen, golf course injuries usually tend to involve golf cart accidents, fast-flying rogue golf balls and trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall hazards. However, here in Florida, we also have amazing – but potentially very dangerous – wildlife patrons may encounter on golf courses. These include alligators (the most common large animal on Florida greens, as noted by The Guardian), pythons, bears, bobcats and of course stinging or biting insects like bees, wasps and red ants.

In terms of liability, Florida golf course owners have a responsibility to take measures to protect their guests by addressing these issues or posting adequate warning so guests can be alert and use appropriate caution. Continue reading →

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Responsibility for sidewalk maintenance depends on where the walkways is located and what the state and municipal ordinances say about who is responsible. Sometimes it can be private property owners located adjacent to the walk or homeowners associations or businesses on which the walkway exists. On public sidewalks, though, responsibility for maintenance usually rests with the county, city or town government. Orlando sidewalk injury lawyer

If you suffer injury in an Orlando sidewalk trip-and-fall, your claim is likely to be against the City of Orlando, which is responsible for sidewalk grinding of sections that have become lifted, cracked or uneven. Although old English common law established the idea of governmental “sovereign immunity” from torts, F.S. 768.28 outlines the state’s waiver of sovereign immunity in tort actions, allowing it to be treated just like any other negligent party or vicariously liable employer. However, there are a number of exceptions, which is why it’s so important to work with an Orlando injury attorney with a track record of success in cases against government agencies. Ask for specific examples when you’re deciding which attorney to hire.

One of the exceptions outlined in the statute involves something called discretionary function immunity (the opposite of which is ministerial function, for which governments can be held liable). These are technical and complex legal concepts, but the easiest explanation is that ministerial duty applies to a public employee’s official duty, without room for the worker to exercise any discretion. On the other hand, discretionary function is that which involves a function of one’s public employee job that requires the individual to exercise some degree of judgment in carrying out the task.  Continue reading →

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A critical element of any Florida slip-and-fall injury lawsuit is establishing actual or constructive knowledge.slip-and-fall attorney

Florida’s slip-and-fall statute, F.S. 768.0755, requires that if a person slips and suffers injury in the fall on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment, that person must first prove the business had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard and therefore had a duty to actively remedy it. Actual knowledge could be shown if the business created the condition or if a staffer or manager was informed directly of the floor’s condition at that time and location. Constructive knowledge is a bit trickier. It is shown by proving the condition existed for such a length of time that the business establishment should have learned of it in the exercise of ordinary care OR that the condition occurred with regularity and was thus foreseeable.

Indiana has a similar proof burden requirement in these premises liability cases, and this issue arose in a recent case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh CircuitContinue reading →

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House fires have the potential to cause serious threats to our personal safety and welfare. The National Fire Protection Association estimates home fires kill 2,500 annually (accounting for 93 percent of all civilian structure fire deaths), which breaks down to an average of seven daily. They also injure some 12,300 people each year and cause more than $6.7 billion in direct damage. fire injury

The question of who is legally responsible for a fire can be a complex one, even when there is no evidence someone intentionally set the fire (in which case criminal arson charges may be applicable). More often than not, the cause is accidental, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t preventable or that someone shouldn’t be held liable. The NFPA reports cooking equipment is the No. 1 cause of home structure fires and injuries, followed by smoking and heating equipment.

But for those who live in rental properties, it’s important to consider the actions or omissions of the landlord. While such actions may not have caused the fire, they may have created circumstances that made the structure vulnerable to fire or exacerbated the risk of injury or death. Examples might include absent or broken smoke detectors, blocked fire exits, missing safety equipment and maintenance failures.  Continue reading →

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A Florida personal injury that occurs on someone else’s property can in some circumstances be compensated under the legal theory of premises liability. These theory opines that property owners owe varying degrees of duty to protect lawful visitors (and sometimes even lawful visitors) from unreasonable risk of harm. This could be a slip-and-fall, a dog bite, faulty stairs or negligent security resulting in vulnerability to a third-party criminal attack. One of the most common defenses in Florida premises liability lawsuits is the “open and obvious” doctrine. injury attorney

Essentially, as noted in the Florida Supreme Court’s 1952 decision in Early v. Morrison Cafeteria Co. of Orlando, a business property owner has a legal right to assume those invited to the site will perceive potentially dangerous conditions that are open and obvious to the ordinary senses. One has a duty to avoid these open and obvious dangers, and a business has no responsibility to warn patrons of these dangers. It’s the concealed dangers – those the business knows or should know about – that require warning. In any case, business property owners do have a responsibility to use “ordinary care” in keeping the site reasonably safe.

One premises liability case recently weighed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit considered whether a teetering tower of rolled insulation at a hardware store customer loading area was an open and obvious hazard, or whether the business owed a legal duty to address or warn of the potential danger.  Continue reading →

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A 14-year-old was recently injured in a Florida amusement park accident when she was reportedly thrown from a ride while it was in motion, eventually landing on the metal walkway that surrounded the ride. The Tallahassee Democrat reported the ride moves in a circular loop, but does not leave the ground, operating something like a fast carousel. The high school freshman later said she felt her feet start to slip and she was unable to hold on.injury lawyer

The girl’s mother said her daughter had not been engaging in horseplay or flouting the rules in a manner that would have resulted in her being thrown from the ride. She said she shouted at the ride operator to halt the machine, but the music was too loud to grab his attention. The girl was initially unconscious and was later transported to the hospital with a broken nose and a large gash on her forehead requiring stitches.

The ride was shut down for the rest of the evening and into the following morning, but was later cleared for re-opening, following an inspection by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ ride inspection unit. The unit reportedly ascertained there was no malfunction of the machine. Specifically, it appeared the lap restraints were working properly and the speed was within the limits of the manufacturer’s recommendations.  Continue reading →

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The National Floor Safety Institute (a non-profit dedicated to reduce slips, trips and falls through education, research and development of standards) reports falls account for more than 8 million hospital emergency room visits annually. Bone fractures occur in about 5 percent of all falls, which are a leading cause of missed time off work for laborers and a top cause of death among the elderly. injury attorney

When one suffers a fall at a store or other place of business, the question of whether a claim for damages is viable will depend on numerous factors, including how obvious the hazard was to whether the store had “notice” (actual or constructive) of it. Slip-and-falls in particular can be tricky because of more stringent standards of proof passed by the legislature in 2010 and codified in F.S. 768.0755.

Recently, a slip-and-fall lawsuit out of Wyoming resulted in a plaintiff getting a second stab at pursuing her case, after a trial court had previously dismissed her claim for failure to state a genuine issue of material fact. The Wyoming Supreme Court disagreed and reversed, remanding the case back to the lower court for trial. That doesn’t mean plaintiff will necessarily win, but summary judgment (which is decided by a judge as a matter of law) is inappropriate for a case where there are unresolved matters of genuine material fact (which are to be decided by a jury).

The case underscores how complicated the simple matter of a fall can be, legally speaking. Continue reading →

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When an employee causes injury to someone else in the course and scope of employment, their employer can be held vicariously liable for those injuries. The legal doctrine is called respondeat superior, which is Latin for, “Let the master answer.” injury attorney

Of course, an employer could also be found directly liable as well for things like negligent hiring, negligent retention, negligent supervision or negligent security. But respondeat superior does not require a finding that the business was negligent. As long as the negligent employee was acting in furtherance of the business at the time the incident occurred, the business may be liable.

This is what is alleged in a Florida personal injury lawsuit recently filed against Apple Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The case is filed federally because, while the injury occurred in South Florida, the company is headquartered in California.  Continue reading →

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