As a general rule, Florida landowners have a duty to those whom they invite onto their property to ensure that the property is reasonably safe for their visitors. While the specific level of the duty owed depends on the relationship between the parties as well as the purpose of the visit, in general, landowners must remedy known dangers and warn visitors of those dangers that cannot be fixed.
When a visitor is injured on another party’s property, they may be entitled to compensation for their injuries through a South Florida premises liability lawsuit. In order to be successful, a plaintiff must establish that the landowner owed them a duty of care that was breached somehow by the landowner’s conduct, or by the landowner’s failure to take remedial actions. Additionally, a plaintiff must establish a causal link between the landowner’s alleged negligence and the plaintiff’s injuries. A recent case illustrates the type of analysis that courts conduct when viewing premises liability lawsuits.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff dropped a trailer off at the defendant tire shop with her brother. The two entered the building, arranged for the repairs, and left without incident. However, upon returning later that afternoon, the plaintiff fell outside the shop as she stepped off the pavement and onto a slightly sloped strip of gravel that ran alongside the edge of the shop. The gravel was placed alongside the building to allow water to drain away from the shop. As a result of the fall, the plaintiff broke a bone in her leg.
The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the shop, claiming that it was negligent in placing the gravel in such a way that customers could easily injure themselves. The plaintiff testified that she fell immediately as she stepped off the pavement and onto the gravel. The plaintiff’s brother’s testimony was similar, also noting that there was about a quarter-inch drop between the pavement and the gravel strip.
The plaintiff presented a five-page expert report completed by a former building inspector. The report concluded that the tire shop violated building codes by placing the sloped gravel surface so close to the main door of the shop. There was also evidence presented indicating that there were no signs or physical barriers put up to prevent customers from walking onto the gravel.
The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the tire shop, after concluding that the expert’s report was not sufficient to give rise to a disputed issue of fact. The court determined that the tire shop did not breach a duty to the plaintiff. The plaintiff then appealed.
On appeal, the case was reversed in favor of the plaintiff. The appellate court determined that the expert’s report, coupled with the plaintiff’s testimony, arguably established that the tire shop was negligent in the placement of the gravel slope. As a result of the court’s opinion, the plaintiff’s case will be permitted to proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.
Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently slipped and fallen while visiting a business, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a South Florida premises liability lawsuit. The dedicated team of South Florida personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank has decades of collective experience handling a wide range of Florida injury cases, including slip-and-fall cases. Call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated South Florida personal injury attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Reverses Jury’s Verdict Based on Lack of Evidence Showing the Defendant Knew about Hazard that Caused Plaintiff’s Fall, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 27, 2017.
Student’s Premises Liability Case Against School Dismissed Based on Lack of Causation, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published December 5, 2017.