Court Rejects Property Owner’s Injury Claim Against Land Survey Company

One state’s supreme court recently published an opinion affirming a lower court’s dismissal of a plaintiff’s personal injury claim that was filed after the plaintiff tripped on a stake that was placed on his property by the defendant while performing a survey. The state high court ultimately determined that the plaintiff could not collect damages from the defendant because the survey was paid for by prospective buyers of the property rather than by the plaintiff himself. Finding that the duty that is required to give rise to a negligence claim requires a contractual relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant, the court ruled that the defendant could not be held accountable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

SurveyorThe Plaintiff Sues After Suffering an Injury From a Stake Placed in the Ground by the Defendant

The plaintiff in the case of Bixenmann v. Dickinson Land Surveyors is a man who was injured on his own property after he tripped on a stake that was placed in the ground by the defendant as part of a survey he was hired to perform. The survey in question was performed in anticipation of the plaintiff’s sale of the property to another party, who paid for the survey pursuant to the real estate purchase contract.

After he was injured, the plaintiff filed a negligence claim against the land survey company, alleging that the stake created a dangerous condition and should have been more visible or accompanied by a warning to prevent the plaintiff’s injury. The plaintiff’s claim was dismissed by the district court, who ruled that he was required to provide expert testimony as to the standard of care owed to property owners and the general public by a professional land surveyor placing survey stakes in the ground.

The Plaintiff Appeals the Ruling, Claiming That The Surveyor’s Negligence Could Be Proven Without Expert Testimony

The plaintiff appealed the dismissal of his case to the state supreme court, arguing that the negligence allegedly committed by the defendant was not professional in nature, and an expert is not required to give testimony to show that a stake was dangerously placed in the ground during a survey. The court was sympathetic to the plaintiff’s argument but ultimately affirmed the district court’s dismissal on different grounds.

The court ruled that in order for a surveyor to owe a duty of care to the owner of the land being surveyed, there must be a contractual relationship between the surveyor and the injured party. Since the survey was paid for by the prospective buyers of the property, and the plaintiff was not involved in the transaction, the court found that the surveyor owed no duty to the plaintiff and could not be held accountable for the plaintiff’s injuries, and it affirmed the dismissal of his claim.

Liability For Dangerous Conditions on Private Property in Florida

Property owners in Florida owe a duty to the general public to exercise reasonable care in preventing or addressing dangerous conditions that exist on their property. Depending on the relationship between the property owner and an injured party, the owner’s responsibility varies. Businesses that are open to the public have the greatest duty to customers or business invitees who enter onto their land for the purpose of conducting business. However, private property owners also owe a certain duty to social invitees, and even trespassers who enter onto their property in some circumstances.

A person who is injured by a dangerous condition on someone else’s property may have a claim for damages against the property owner if the condition was known to the owner, but reasonable warnings were not posted. Any injured parties should consult with a Florida premises liability attorney to discuss the possibility of compensation for their injuries through a negligence claim against the property owner or insurance provider involved.

Legal Representation for Plaintiffs in South Florida Premises Liability Claims

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of a dangerous condition on somebody else’s property, you may have a cause of action for damages to compensate you for your injuries. The Miami premises liability attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank represent clients who have been injured on public or private property as a result of dangerous conditions that are the responsibility of the property owner. If you’ve been hurt, contact us to discuss what happened and determine if you may have a case for damages. At Friedman, Rodman & Frank, we represent clients in premises liability and other negligence cases throughout South Florida, including slip-and-fall claims. Contact us and schedule a no-obligation consultation at no cost to you. Call us toll-free at 877-448-8585 or use our web-based form to be put in touch with a skilled attorney and discuss your case.

More Blog Posts:

Federal Court Awards Additional Damages to Plaintiff Based On Insurance Company’s Bad Faith, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published September 9, 2016.

Blatant Surgical Errors Remain Startlingly Common Despite Technological Advances in Medicine, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published August 18, 2016.

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