Premises Liability FAQ

When you go out somewhere, whether to a store, a restaurant, a friend’s home or a public street, you never expect to get injured at your destination. Unfortunately, sometimes dangerous conditions or improper maintenance creates hazards that cause you to trip, fall or otherwise injure yourself.

If you have been injured on someone’s property, Florida law may allow you to recover compensation. Freeman Injury Law in Fort Lauderdale represents clients in cases involving injury on property and we can help you to better understand your right to make a claim against the property owner.

Feel free to review our FAQ below to learn more about these types of claims. You can also contact us at any time to schedule a free consultation regarding your case and to discuss how we can represent you to help you to have a fair chance at getting compensated for your injuries.

Premises Liability FAQ

1) What does premises liability mean?

A premises is any type of building or grounds. Owners, or those in control of and occupying property or buildings, are expected to ensure that their premises is reasonably safe. This is especially true if they open up their business to the public or if they invite guests into their home.

If someone who owns or controls a property fails to take reasonable steps to make sure that the property is safe, that person can be held responsible under the law. The rules that determine when an owner is responsible for injuries on his property are called premises liability laws. When a lawsuit is filed or a claim made based on an injury on someone’s grounds or property, it is called a premises liability lawsuit.

2) What types of premises liability injuries occur?

A variety of different hazards on property can cause injuries to occur and can lead to premises liability claims. For example, a wet floor, an uneven sidewalk or a cracked tile can cause a fall. An unsecured swimming pool can cause a drowning accident. A broken step can cause a fall or boxes stacked in an unsafe manner on store shelves can fall on a person and cause head injuries, bone fractures, cuts or other damage. Essentially, any unsafe conditions in a building or on the grounds that cause an injury can constitute a premises liability injury.

3) Who can be held responsible for a premise liability claim?

Property owners can typically be sued for unsafe conditions on their property. This is true whether the owner is a person who invites you to his house as a guest, or is a store that invites customers. In some cases, the party who is renting or in control of the property may also be sued or may be sued instead of the owners. For instance, if a landlord has rented out his property to a commercial restaurant, the restaurant or landlord could potentially be sued when someone slips on a damaged tile in the front of the restaurant, depending on who was responsible for the tile. A Fort Lauderdale premises liability lawyer can help you to determine who is responsible for an accident that results in serious injury.

4) Should I sue the owner, the landlord or the renter?

Whether to sue the landlord, the owner or the renter for an injury that occurs on property will depend upon where the injury occurred and who was responsible for maintaining the area. For instance, if you get hurt in a common area of an apartment building, the landlord should be sued. If you are injured because your friend whose apartment you are visiting is full of clutter and you trip over it, then the renter of the apartment would be the appropriate person to sue.

5) What do I need to prove to win a premises liability claim?

In order to win your premises liability claim, you will need to show that the property owner/renter or occupier owed you a legal duty or had some legal responsibility to you. To determine whether the owner should have been more reasonable in ensuring your safety, it is important to assess what duty was actually owed to you. Customers to commercial stores or establishments are owed the highest duty (they are called invitees). Casual or friendly visitors are owed an intermediate duty (they are called licensees). Finally, trespassers are owed only a very limited duty.

Once you have proved what your status was (invitee, licensee or trespasser), you then have to prove that the property owner was more negligent than he/she should have been and that the negligence directly caused you harm or injury.

6) What duty do property owners owe to me?

The duty that you are owed depends on whether you are an invitee (customer invited to a commercial establishment); licensee (friendly guest to a home or other location) or trespasser. A store or establishment that opens its doors to invitees must inspect the premises regularly and check to be sure it is safe. Any hazards they find or should have found need to be corrected or visitors need to warn.

Licensees also have the right to be warned of dangers. However, owners who invite licensees in don’t have an obligation to inspect their premises. Instead, they have the obligation to correct or to warn about any hazards or dangers that they are aware of or that they reasonably ought to know about.

Finally, trespassers are protected only from owners setting traps or from serious or grave dangers that owners do not warn about.

7) Are there special rules for swimming pools or construction sites?

In certain cases, there are things on property that are very enticing to people- and especially to kids. For example, swimming pools and construction sites may draw children in. These inviting but dangerous attractions are called “attractive nuisances” and property owners have to make sure that they secure the areas or take steps to protect trespassing kids from wandering in and becoming injured.

8) Can I really sue if I was on the property without permission?

While trespassers aren’t given the same protections as invited guests, property owners still have some obligation to them. If property owners know that there are trespassers and know of serious dangers, property owners may need to warn the trespassers. Property owners also aren’t allowed to create hazards or traps for trespassing visitors.

9) How is negligence determined?

To determine if a property owner was negligent in the eyes of the law, it is necessary to determine if the owner breached his/her duty to the visiting guest. If the property owner failed to inspect the premises regularly and warn of dangers or correct them, for example, then the property owner may be considered negligent in a commercial space or when inviting guests in.

10) Is it really right to sue a friend?

Property owners including friends, acquaintances or neighbors can be sued under premises liability laws if you are hurt on their property. Many people are reluctant to file a premises liability claim under these circumstances because they do not want to sue a friend. Declining to sue may seem noble, but it really isn’t a good idea. First, you’ll be left with medical bills. Second, when you do sue or pursue a premises liability claim, you make the claim against the homeowner’s insurance of the person whose house you were injured at. The only person you are really saving money is thus the insurance company- and you need that money to pay your medical bills and other losses far more than the insurance company does.

11) What types of damages can I obtain?

Compensation for a premises liability case can include payment for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress and other damages. If an injury on property causes the victim to pass away, the family members left behind can file a wrongful death claim.

12) How can I prove my case?

A variety of different types of evidence may be used to help you to prove your premises liability claim. For instance, you may wish to subpoena maintenance records in order to provide proof that the premises owner was not maintaining the property as expected. You may also wish to have testimony from people who saw your accident, testimony from accident reconstruction experts, and solid medical proof of your injuries.

13) What if I am partially at fault for my injury?

If you were partially to blame for causing your own injury, you may still be able to make a claim for a part of your compensation or damages that the property owner/occupier was responsible for.

14) Should I settle my case with the insurer?

In many cases, the insurer for the property owner is going to offer to settle your premises liability case. This means they’ll offer to give you a lump sum amount of compensation to get you to promise that you wont’ sue. Once you sign in writing that you are giving up your right to make further claims, you can’t go back on your commitment. Before signing, therefore, you should talk to a Fort Lauderdale premises liability lawyer.

15) Do I really need a lawyer?

Whether you got hurt in a commercial establishment or on private property, chances are good that the premises owner/occupier will have a lawyer (either their own or one who works for the insurance company). You, too, deserve to have representation from a caring and dedicated Fort Lauderdale attorney. Freeman Injury Law is here to help you. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.

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