Aaron Papero, Esquire Freeman Injury Law
So, you slipped or tripped and fell and injured yourself while in the common area of your condominium. What duty does the Condominium owe to you as a tenant or invited guest otherwise known as an “invitee”?
Under Florida law, a landowner owes you two duties:
1. To use reasonable care in keeping and maintaining the premises in a reasonably safe condition; and
2. To give the invitee warning of perils which are known or should be known to the landowner, and which are unknown to the invitee and cannot be discovered by him or her through the exercise of due care.
Florida law is clear and the appellate courts are consistent in holding that, “[a] property owner’s duty of care toward invitees is non-delegable.” Pembroke Lakes Mall, Ltd v. Mcgruder, 137 So. 3d 418, 430 (4th DCA 2014). “Non-delegable” means the landowner cannot transfer away their duty to keep the premises reasonably safe to warn of dangerous conditions. Even when another party contributes to creating the dangerous condition, the property owner is still ultimately responsible. In Acosta v. City of Hialeah, the Court held that “the fact that a third party’s paving of the area in question herein may have contributed to the defective condition does not relieve the City of its duty to maintain its right-of-way,” Acosta v. City of Hialeah, 780 So. 2d 300, 301 (3rd DCA 2001); see also Jauma v. City of Hialeah, 758 So. 2d 699 (3rd DCA 2000). This case held that the City had a non-delegable duty to maintain its roads, sidewalks, and rights-of-way in a reasonably safe condition even where the defective condition was created by a third party.
A business/condominium owner may hire an independent contractor to perform its non- delegable duties, however they cannot contract out of their ultimate legal responsibility for the proper performance of their duties. The business owner is ultimately responsible for the proper performance of this non-delegable duty to maintain the premises in a safe condition, whether performed by the party itself, an employee, or an independent contractor, U.S. Security Services Corp. v. Ramada Inn, Inc., 665 So. 2d 270 (3rd DCA 1996).
In U.S. Security, a hotel guest was injured on the premises after he was attacked by a criminal. The guest was a “business invitee,” and he asserted that Ramada Inn was responsible for his injuries because it negligently breached its duty to provide reasonably safe premises for him. Ramada Inn asserted that it had retained a security company to handle security, and thus any liability that was apportioned to Ramada Inn should be reduced by any negligence that was apportioned to the security company. Following the jury trial, the appellate court held that:
(1) Ramada had a non-delegable duty to the plaintiff, as Ramada’s business invitee, to provide the plaintiff with reasonably safe premises, including reasonable protection against third party criminal attacks; and
(2) Ramada could contract, as it did with USS, an independent contractor, to provide the required security for its guests, but it was nonetheless vicariously responsible for any negligence of USS in providing such services based on the non-delegable duty theory. The appellate court then stated that Ramada Inn was responsible for any negligence that
had been apportioned to the security company.
Based on long-standing precedent in the State of Florida, should you injure yourself while
on the premises of a condominium, you may be able to collect damages for your medical treatment,
lost wages and pain and suffering. These issues can be very complex and you should hire an attorney to be able to document the negligence that caused your injuries as soon as possible.