Articles Posted in Premises Liability

rollercoasterIn June of this year, six passengers were injured in a Florida roller coaster accident when one of the coaster’s car became derailed from the tracks. Two of the passengers in the front car were thrown from the ride, falling 34 feet to the ground. The remaining passengers waited in cars that were dangling from the tracks for emergency responders to extricate them from the ride. In all, ten people had to be removed by emergency workers, and six were hospitalized with varying injuries.

At the time of the accident, there was much speculation as to what could have caused the ride to malfunction in such a dangerous way. According to a recent news report, an investigation into the accident has uncovered some additional information as to what may have caused the accident.

Evidently, there were several problems that may have contributed to the accident. First, investigators noted that the ride looked as though cars had been derailed in the past, but had not been reported. Generally, Florida roller coasters are inspected twice a year by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). However, ride operators are required to conduct daily inspections prior to opening the ride to the public. This includes inspecting the structural integrity of the ride, as well as the condition of the track and cars. These inspections are required to be kept on hand in the event of an incident.

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In a recent appellate opinion, a court determined that a restaurant may have a duty to take some kind of action to control the population of venomous spiders on the premises. The case presents an interesting issue for potential Florida premises liability plaintiffs because it illustrates the extent of the duty that a business owes its customers.restaurant

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and a friend decided to have lunch on the patio of the defendant restaurant. Prior to eating, the plaintiff removed her over shirt and set it down beside her. After the two had finished lunch, the plaintiff put the shirt back on. As soon as the plaintiff’s shirt was back on, she felt a sharp pain in her shoulder. She told her friend that she thought something had bitten her.

Not thinking that anything was seriously wrong, the plaintiff went home. However, the next day, she woke up completely numb and unable to move her arms or legs. She managed to call for help using her nose, and she was ultimately admitted to the hospital, where she stayed for six days.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida premises liability case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to survive a defense motion for summary judgment. Although the trial court granted the defendant’s motion, finding that the plaintiff presented insufficient evidence that the defendant was aware of the hazard that caused his fall, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision based on the plaintiff’s own testimony.

Store ShelvesSummary Judgment

Summary judgment is a stage in many Florida personal injury cases in which one or both parties ask the judge to rule in their favor prior to trial. A judge will grant a party’s motion for summary judgment only when there are no contested issues of fact and, after considering the uncontested evidence, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Essentially this means that after taking into account the uncontested evidence, the non-moving party would not be able to prevail at trial.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was seriously injured when a heavy object fell and struck him in the back of the leg while he was shopping in the defendant hardware store. After the accident, the plaintiff was told by an employee that the object that hit him was a trailer hitch that had fallen from high up on the shelf. The plaintiff testified that after the accident, he saw employees stacking trailer hitches high up on the shelves.

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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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