Florida’s premises liability law allows people who are injured or killed at homes, businesses, and public places to sue the property owners and governments to recover incurred losses.
The law applies to many circumstances, including slipping and falling, so the best recourse for those harmed on another’s property is to quickly contact a Fort Lauderdale premises liability lawyer for a free consultation without obligation. An experienced injury lawyer in Fort Lauderdale can determine if a valid case exists.
Florida Premises Liability Law
Under Florida law, liability rests with the property owner/manager if the owner knew about a hazard, did not correct it, or did not put others on notice of the hazard.
In Broward County, premises liability does not apply if the property owner did not know of the hazard and therefore could not foresee that someone could be injured.
Why the injured person was on the property determines if the injured party has the right to bring a case. Premises liability law establishes three general classifications, invited guests, licensees (meaning visitors), and trespassers. An experienced premises liability attorney in Fort Lauderdale can help an individual understand the specific circumstances surrounding an invited guest.
- Public invitee: People entering a place that is open to the public for a specific purpose, such as stores, sporting stadiums, concerts, and parks
- Business invitee: People hired by the property owner to perform work or conduct other business on the property
- Licensee by invitation: Guests in homes for socialization
- Uninvited licensee: People who visit a property uninvited for their own convenience
- Trespasser: People who come onto the property without the owner’s permission for their own reasons
Burden of Proof
Those who are injured must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that they were authorized by the property owner to be on the property when the injury occurred and therefore the property owner had a duty to ensure their safety.
They must also prove that the property owner was liable for the injury by knowing or having constructive knowledge (knowing a fact) of the hazard and that failing to correct the hazard caused the injury and monetary damages resulted.
The property owner, however, does not have a duty to protect a trespasser from harm.
The exception is a known trespasser, such as school children who cross the property on the way to and from school. If the property owner knows about their shortcut, then liability exists.
Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
Another exception is if the property has an attractive nuisance. For example, a homeowner is liable if the backyard gate is left open, exposing a swimming pool to the street, and a child sees the pool and trespasses to gain access to the pool and suffers harm.
Statute of Limitations for Premises Liability Cases
Florida law requires premises liability cases be filed within two years of the event, including if the incident caused death. The statute of limitations must be met or the suing party will be forever barred from bringing legal action in the matter. A premises liability lawyer in Ft Lauderdale can help an individual with swiftly filing a claim.
Role of an Attorney
Fort Lauderdale premises liability lawyers will conduct an independent investigation that includes reconstructing the event, taking photographs, making diagrams, and proving that the property owner knew or should have known about the hazard. These are accomplished by interviewing the property owner and witnesses under oath and gathering physical evidence supporting the claim.
Many civil cases are settled between the parties. A premises liability attorney in Fort Lauderdale will negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company to achieve a settlement that is fair and satisfactory to the client.
Florida injury lawyers often work on a contingency basis. If they do not prevail, no legal fees are charged. If the case succeeds, the lawyer takes the fee from the damages awarded.