Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the outer bounds of how far courts will currently go to impose liability on a defendant landlord. However, the case is important to Florida personal injury plaintiffs because, given the societal scourge that addiction represents and the recent efforts to combat the disease, the law in this area may be ripe for a change.

Illegal DrugsThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the surviving parents of a young man who died of a ketamine overdose while at a home that was owned by the defendant. The defendant, however, did not live in the home and allowed his ex-girlfriend and her family to reside at the home rent-free. The exact details of the agreement were not clear, but there was evidence suggesting that the tenant worked for the defendant.

The young man had obtained the drugs through the son of the tenant. The defendant knew that the son had a troubled legal past, but he knew nothing of the fact that they were using ketamine at his home. In fact, the defendant had not lived in the home in three years. Once the tenant told the defendant of the young man’s death, he ended the agreement and required everyone living in the home to move out.

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As a general rule, landowners have a duty to make sure that their property is safe for those whom they invite onto their land. If someone is injured due to a landowner’s negligence, the injured party can pursue a Florida premises liability lawsuit against the landowner.

Bike TrailHowever, Florida lawmakers have established certain exceptions to this general rule. One such exception is contained in Florida Statutes section 375.251, also known as Florida’s recreational-use statute. The recreational-use statute grants immunity to certain landowners who open up their land for the free recreational use of the public. Specifically, the statute explains that qualifying landowners do not make any assurances that the land is safe, do not incur a duty of care to those who use the land, and will not be liable to anyone for injuries caused by their own negligence while on the land.

That being said, even a qualifying landowner is not immune from liability for deliberate, willful, or malicious actions that result in injuries.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case involving the aggressive acts of a third party, discussing how such acts can play into a landowner’s liability to its visitors. The case is important for Florida car accident victims to understand because it discusses the concept of foreseeability, which comes into play in many personal injury cases.

Food TruckThe Facts of the Case

The defendant owned a parking lot that he had designed and leased to a food truck. The food truck was open each day, and it was most crowded on the weekends. On a weekend evening, the plaintiff hoped to visit the food truck. As the plaintiff pulled into the lot, however, he realized that it was very crowded and that he would have a difficult time finding a place to park, so he decided to back out and find another place to park.

As the plaintiff was backing out of the lot, he bumped into another vehicle that was pulling into the lot. The driver of that car got very angry, despite the plaintiff’s apology and offer to exchange insurance and vehicle information. The other driver then got into his own car, put it in reverse, and quickly backed out of the lot. However, in so doing, the other driver ran over the plaintiff, who was standing behind the car. The plaintiff was seriously injured as a result and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the parking lot.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing the theory of premises liability as it pertained to a case involving a child who was seriously injured when a metal stanchion fell atop his finger. The case presents an interesting issue for Florida premises liability plaintiffs because it brings to light how the state’s attractive nuisance doctrine may be helpful to Florida plaintiffs in a similar situation.

Espresso MachineThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a young boy who was playing on a series of metal stanchions that were used to create a line at a coffee shop. The stanchions were large metal poles, weighted at the bottom and connected by chains.

After the plaintiff and his family had ordered their drinks and used the restroom, they began to exit the store. However, as the plaintiff’s mother was walking out ahead of her son, she heard the young boy start to scream. She turned around to see that one of the metal stanchions had fallen on her son’s hand. Witnesses to the accident explained that the boy and his brother were playing on the stanchions and swinging from the chains.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a wrongful death case brought by the parents of a student who died while horseplaying with another student at school. At the time of the accident, the teacher in charge of the classroom had stepped out and asked another teacher in a nearby room to keep an eye on the children. The court was tasked with determining whether the teacher was entitled to official immunity.

ClassroomThe case raises interesting and important issues that often arise in Florida personal injury cases involving government defendants. These include Florida car accidents involving government employees and slip-and-fall accidents that occur on government property.

Official Immunity

Under both the Florida and United States Constitutions, government agencies and officials are entitled to immunity unless immunity is specifically waived by the government. Each state has its own tort claims act in which lawmakers determine which types of cases are exempt from the general grant of immunity.

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Florida has hundreds of thousands of acres of beautiful outdoor areas that are perfect for a number of recreational activities, including hiking, boating, hunting, and biking. However, much of this land is owned by various government entities or by private citizens. In the interest of persuading landowners to open up their land for the general recreational use of the public, Florida lawmakers passed Florida Statute 375.251, the Florida recreational use statute.

Stadium SeatsThe recreational use statute encourages landowners to allow members of the public to use their land by preventing anyone who is injured while using a landowner’s property from holding the landowner responsible for any injuries sustained. Importantly, the immunity conferred by the recreational use statute is not absolute, and immunity will not attach if the landowner charges a fee to use or access the land, or if the landowner engages in “deliberate, willful, or malicious” conduct.

A recent case illustrates how one court strictly interpreted a similar recreational use statute, rejecting the plaintiffs’ claim against a stadium where their daughter was seriously injured.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case requiring the court to determine if the defendant hotel had a duty to provide the plaintiff with reasonable assistance. Ultimately, the court concluded that there were issues of fact that needed to be resolved by a jury, and it ordered the case to proceed toward trial.

Hotel RoomThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff checked into the defendant hotel. Prior to checking in, the plaintiff let her husband know where she would be and told him that she would let him know when she arrived. However, the plaintiff never called her husband. Concerned about his wife, the plaintiff’s husband called the hotel to see if his wife had checked in.

The hotel confirmed that the plaintiff did check in, and the front-desk employee asked a maintenance worker to go to the plaintiff’s room to perform a welfare check. The maintenance worker had been employed with the hotel for several years but had never performed a welfare check before.

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Florida landlords are required to take certain precautions when it comes to the safety of the homes they lease to tenants. When a landlord fails to make necessary repairs to a residence or fails to warn a tenant about a known hazard on the property, the landlord may be held financially liable for the tenant’s injuries through a Florida premises liability lawsuit.

StepsEarlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving injuries sustained by a tenant as she was entering the residence that she had leased from the defendant landlord. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss whether the lower court was correct in dismissing both of the plaintiff’s claims. Ultimately, the court concluded that there was conflicting evidence as to whether the landlord conducted necessary repairs, so the plaintiff’s failure-to-repair claim should not have been dismissed.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff rented a home from the defendant. After about 18 months of living in the home, the plaintiff tripped and fell when the heel of her shoe got caught in a crack between the front patio and the top step leading up to the patio.

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Before most Florida personal injury cases reach trial, the court hears a motion for summary judgment from at least one of the parties. A motion for summary judgment asks the court to consider all of the uncontested evidence presented by both sides and make a legal ruling in favor of the moving party. Importantly, summary judgment motions can save an immense amount of time if properly filed and litigated. However, it is important to keep in mind that when there is a material issue of contested fact involved in a case, a motion for summary judgment is not appropriate.

Fast FoodA recent case illustrated a court’s unwillingness to grant summary judgment to the defendant in a premises liability case when there was a question whether the defendant had knowledge of the dangerous condition causing the plaintiff’s injury.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was visiting the defendant fast-food restaurant with some family members. After placing his order, the defendant began to walk back to the area of the restaurant where the tables were. As he was walking, he thought he heard a restaurant employee call his name. The plaintiff turned around and tripped on the leg of a high chair that was protruding out into the walkway. The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the restaurant, arguing that the restaurant’s negligent placement of the high chair resulted in him tripping, falling, and sustaining serious bodily injuries.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida premises liability lawsuit involving a plaintiff who slipped and fell as she was entering the defendant store. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s case should be dismissed because there was no evidence showing that the business owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard causing the plaintiff’s fall.

Wet FloorThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was accompanying a neighbor to a nearby big-box retail store. As the two arrived, they went to get a shopping cart under the awning immediately outside the store’s entrance. As the plaintiff started to walk toward the store’s entrance, she felt her right leg give out from under her, and she fell on her left knee. The plaintiff was then taken to the hospital and subsequently filed a premises liability lawsuit against the store.

The plaintiff later testified that she did not see the liquid before she fell, that there were no store employees around the liquid at the time of the fall, and that she was not sure what the liquid was or how long it had been there. The store filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to find that it had knowledge of the liquid.

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