A Florida appellate court recently considered whether a bank could be held liable after a woman fell in a hole in a construction zone on the bank’s property. The woman had driven to the bank to make a deposit. When she arrived, she saw the bank was closed and decided to use the bank’s outdoor ATM. She parked her car and saw that the area was under construction with a barricade in front of the ATM. The woman says there was a sign with an arrow directing people to walk around the barricade. She followed the directions, but as she was walking around the barricade, she stepped in a hole, causing her to fall and break her foot and her leg. She said did not see the hole, but admitted that there was nothing preventing her from looking down and seeing the it.
The woman filed a claim against the bank and its general contractor, alleging a breach of duty to warn and a breach of duty to maintain a safe location. The defendants claimed they were entitled to summary judgment under the obvious danger doctrine. The woman argued they were not entitled to summary judgment because the condition was not open and obvious.
The appeals court agreed with the woman, finding the defendants were not entitled to summary judgment. The court explained that even if the condition was open and obvious, that only relieved the defendants of a duty to warn, and not of their duty to maintain. The defendants could still be held liable for negligently maintaining the premises. For example, they might be liable based on the length of time the hole existed, which may have provided the defendant with actual or constructive knowledge of the hole’s existence. For these reasons, the court found the defendants were not entitled to summary judgment, allowing the case to proceed.
The Obvious Danger Doctrine
The obvious danger doctrine recognizes that landowners and occupiers should be permitted to safely assume that people will perceive obvious dangers. As a result, under the doctrine, a landowner or occupier may not be obligated to warn people of obvious dangers. However, it does not relieve landowners of their duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. In other words, even though a landowner or occupier may be relieved of a duty to warn, the owner or occupier may still be liable for negligently permitting a dangerous condition to exist in the first place.
Contact a Miami Premises Liability Attorney
Landowners and occupiers have a duty to those who enter onto their property. If you were injured on another person’s property, you may be entitled to compensation from the landowner. A Miami premises liability lawyer can advise you of your rights under Florida law and help you seek recourse against any responsible parties. At Friedman, Rodman, & Frank, P.A., we offer a strong voice to help accident victims hold property owners accountable for their negligent actions. Our goal is to secure the maximum amount of compensation possible for the type of injury sustained, including punitive damages when appropriate. Contact our law firm online, call 305-448-8585, or toll-free at 877-448-8585.
More Blog Posts:
Employer’s Failure to Conduct Thorough Background Investigation May Be Basis for Liability in Employee’s DUI Accident, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published February 22, 2017.
Court Characterizes Doctor’s Office Slip-and-Fall Accident as a Medical Malpractice Incident, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 9, 2017.