Florida premises liability lawsuits often hinge on the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendants. This is because any duty that a landowner may owe to a plaintiff depends on the relationship between the parties and the reason why the plaintiff is on the defendant’s property. A recent appellate decision from nearby Georgia illustrates how a plaintiff’s inability to prove that a certain relationship exists between herself and the defendants may be fatal to her claim.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff rented a condo in the defendant’s condominium complex from the condo’s owner. However, the plaintiff did not enter into a formal written lease with the owner of the condo. Instead, the two had an oral agreement.
While the plaintiff was living in the condo, she was bothered by the fact that the staircase leading up to her unit was poorly lit and did not have a handrail. She informed the condominium association that she believed the condition of the stairs was dangerous and requested that the association take action to make the stairs safer. However, the association did nothing.
Later, the plaintiff slipped and fell while descending the stairs, sustaining injuries as a result. The plaintiff then filed a personal injury lawsuit against the condominium association as well as the company that was responsible for maintaining the complex.
The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that as a matter of law, they cannot be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because the plaintiff admitted to having knowledge of the dangerous condition that caused her injuries. Under state law, a plaintiff who has equal or superior knowledge of a hazard is prohibited from filing a lawsuit against the landowner. However, an exception applies if the relationship between the parties is that of landlord-tenant.
The exception is called the “necessity rule” and allows for a plaintiff who is injured by a known hazard to seek compensation from the landowner if the hazard must be encountered by virtue of living in the property. However, this exception only applies when the plaintiff can establish that she was a tenant of the defendant.
The court concluded that the plaintiff did not present any proof that a landlord-tenant relationship existed between herself and the defendants. Thus, the necessity rule did not apply to the plaintiff’s case.
Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled Miami personal injury lawyers at Friedman, Rodman & Frank have extensive experience holding negligent property owners responsible for injuries caused on their land. To learn more about South Florida slip-and-fall accidents, and to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney, call 877-448-8585. You incur no obligation by calling, since we will not bill you for our services unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
More Blog Posts:
Court Limits Truck Owner’s Liability, Finding that He Loaned Truck to At-Fault Driver, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published July 6, 2017.
Who Is Responsible in Florida When Someone Causes an Accident Using a Borrowed or Stolen Car?, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published June 19, 2017.