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.
At 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.On the other hand, if someone comes into the store to buy something, as our Palm Beach personal injury lawyers can explain, that person is what is known as a business invitee, because they are in the store (on the property) and their presence is benefiting the landowner. A landowner owes a duty of care that is the highest under the law.
A recent article from Cleveland.com discusses a case where a bar owner is being sued by two plaintiffs on unrelated premises liability actions. In the first cause of action, a 20-year-old woman was a guest at the nightclub when she fell from a balcony on the second floor of the establishment. This occurred on St. Patrick’s Day, and she fell more than 10 feet, and her head landed on a granite counter top.
Following this incident, the club was shut down by local code enforcement, as the establishment was allegedly unsafe for occupation. A second lawsuit was filed for an incident that took place around a year ago where a plaintiff alleged he was at the bar for a party with his friends when a light fixture on the ceiling fell and crashed into his face and head. In his complaint, he alleged that he suffered a concussion and had a large laceration on his head and face that required sutures to close.
The woman that fell off the second floor balcony was taken to the hospital with critical injuries following her accident, as alleged in her premises liability lawsuit. It should be noted that in both cases, the bar owner has not been found liable as of this time.
Lastly, it is important to note that there is a much lesser standard of care with respect to trespassers who are on the land.
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Cleveland bar where woman critically injured on St. Pat’s Day faces unrelated personal injury lawsuit, May 4, 2017, By Adam Ferrise, Cleveland.com
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