Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida premises liability lawsuit discussing whether the plaintiff’s case should be able to proceed toward trial despite the fact that the hazard causing her fall was open and obvious. The court concluded that, despite the obvious nature of the hazard, the defendant condo association was not relieved from repairing the known hazard. Thus, the court held that while the plaintiff could not proceed with a failure-to-warn claim against the defendant, her claim based on negligent maintenance of the property.

The Plaintiff’s Injuries

As the court explained the facts in its opinion, the plaintiff owned property in the defendant condo association and had lived there for the past 15 years. One day, the plaintiff was walking on the sidewalk in an area where she regularly traveled when she tripped on an unlevel sidewalk. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the fall and filed a Florida personal injury case naming the condo association as a defendant.

In a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, the condo association argued that the unlevel sidewalk was an open and obvious hazard and because of that, the plaintiff could not recover for her injuries. The trial court agreed, finding that as a matter of law, uneven pavement is considered an open and obvious hazard, and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. The plaintiff filed an appeal.

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Florida is unique in that parts of the state enjoy over 170 days of sunshine each year. As a result, swimming pools are common across the state. However, swimming pools present serious dangers to children, and those who own or operate swimming pools must take precautions to guard against accident drownings.

Florida swimming pool deaths can occur either at a public or private pool. In either event, pool owners have a responsibly to install specific safety measures and, in some cases, to provide adequate supervision. A recent opinion issued by a state appellate court discusses a tragic death that occurred at a government-run swimming pool.

The Facts

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff’s daughter was on a field trip to a water park that was run by the local parks and recreation department. Prior to allowing her daughter to go on the trip, the plaintiff contacted the playground coordinator at the park, explaining that her daughter does not know how to swim. The coordinator assured the plaintiff that her daughter would be assessed before she would be allowed into the deeper areas of the pool. However, the young girl tragically drowned while department staff members were changing in the locker room.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident case discussing whether a private residential community could be held liable for the injuries sustained by motorists who were involved in a collision within the community. Ultimately, the court concluded that any alleged negligence of the community was not the proximate cause of the car accident, and thus the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiffs were driving through a residential community when another motorist rear-ended them. Evidently, the plaintiffs’ vehicle had come to a stop to allow oncoming trucks to pass through a narrow area of the road where there were cars parked on both sides of the street. As the plaintiffs waited for the vehicles to pass, they were rear-ended.

The plaintiffs filed a Florida personal injury lawsuit against the motorist that struck their vehicle as well as the residential community. In support of their claim against the residential community, the plaintiffs cited a city code that prohibited parking on both sides of the street. Apparently, when the community was first created parking was only permitted in the driveways of residents’ homes; however, after discovering that this policy resulted in a severe parking shortage, the community allowed parking on both sides of the street. The plaintiffs claimed that by allowing residents to park on both sides of the road in violation of the city ordinance, the residential community was partially responsible for the accident.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident case requiring the court to determine if a liability release waiver signed by the plaintiff prevented her from pursuing a case against the defendant. Ultimately, the court concluded that the scope of the release waiver did not include the specific type of claim brought by the plaintiff.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was run over by a pick-up truck while she was attending a race at the Daytona International Speedway. Evidently, before the accident, employees of the speedway instructed the tow-truck driver to back the truck up into the area where the plaintiff was standing.

As a condition of allowing the plaintiff into the raceway, the racetrack asked that she sign a release of liability waiver. In essence, that waiver stated that the plaintiff acknowledged that there were dangers associated with standing on or near the raceway and that she agreed not to pursue any claims if she was injured due to “any negligent” actions of the defendant.

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While no parent wants to think about the possibility of an accident occurring while their child is at school, on occasion these accidents do happen. When a child is injured in a Florida school accident, the parents of the child may be able to pursue a claim for compensation against the school based on the school’s duty to keep students safe.

In a recent case released by a state appellate court, a student’s lawsuit against a school district resulted in a defense verdict after the court instructed the jury that the school only owed the student a duty of ordinary care. The student had argued that, based on the “special relationship” that a school has with its students, the school owed her a heightened duty of care.

The court rejected the plaintiff’s interpretation, noting that schools have historically owed students a duty of reasonable care unless the harm was caused by some intentional conduct of a teacher or school administrator. Thus, in that case, the court affirmed the court’s decision to instruct the jury and the jury’s ultimate verdict.

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Anytime someone participates in a sporting activity, there is a risk that they could be injured. However, participants reasonably assume that the organization arranging the game has implemented rules to keep players safe and free from experiencing an unnecessary Florida sports injury.

In a recent opinion released by a federal appellate court, the court allowed a plaintiffs’ lawsuit to proceed against a youth water polo league based on the league’s failure to implement and enforce rules to keep players safe. The case illustrates the type of situation in which a Florida sports injury victim may be able to pursue a claim for compensation for the injuries they have sustained.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was the mother of a student water polo player who was repeatedly hit in the head during the game and each time put back into play. The student ended up suffering a concussion and debilitating post-concussion syndrome.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating an important difference between Florida personal injury law and the laws of many other states. The case involved the defendant’s allegation that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury and thus, should be precluded from obtaining compensation for her injuries.

Assumption of the Risk

In some states, if it is determined that a plaintiff voluntarily assumed the risks that resulted in her injuries the plaintiff is not allowed to recover for her injuries. The theory is that a person who is aware of the risks involved in an activity is able to weigh the risks before engaging in a particular activity. In general, Florida courts will not preclude a plaintiff from recovering for her injuries even if she was determined to have assumed the risk of injury. Instead, the court will allow the jury to factor the assumption-of-the-risk analysis into its comparative negligence finding.

There are, however, two exceptions to this rule, one of which is the participation in contact sports. If a plaintiff is injured while engaging in a contact sport, they may be found to have assumed the risks involved. The other exception involves a situation where a person signs a contract agreeing not to sue.

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A state appellate court recently released an opinion in a case discussing the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor as it relates to personal injury matters. Res ipsa loquitor is a Latin phrase that roughly translates to “the thing speaks for itself.” The doctrine may apply in some Florida personal injury cases where the exact cause of a plaintiff’s injury is unknown, but the nature of the accident is such that it would not likely have occurred absent the defendant’s negligence.

The Res Ipsa Loquitor Doctrine

Res ipsa loquitor is an old common-law doctrine that allows for the judge or jury to infer a defendant’s negligence from the surrounding circumstances. For the doctrine to apply, Florida courts require the plaintiff to establish three elements. First, the plaintiff must show that the instrumentality that caused the plaintiff’s injuries was in the sole control of the defendant. Second, that the accident resulting in the plaintiff’s injuries would likely not have happened absent the defendant’s negligence. And finally, that no direct proof of negligence is available.

The Case’s Facts

This case involved a woman who was injured as she was exiting an elevator in the defendant condominium complex. According to the court’s opinion, the woman was exiting the elevator when the doors to the elevator suddenly closed on her. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the condo complex, asserting claims under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an interesting opinion in a personal injury case discussing whether the defendant grocery store had a duty to provide staged shopping carts for the use of customers. Ultimately, the court concluded that the store did not have such a duty and did not voluntarily assume a duty by implementing standard operating procedures directing employees to stage carts when they had spare time.

The case presents an important issue that frequently arises in Florida slip-and-fall cases. Specifically, it involves the existence and extent of a duty that a business owes to its customers.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant grocery store maintains a corral of shopping carts near the store’s entrance. The store employs a greeter whose job it is to stand by the entrance and greet customers. While the greeter’s primary responsibility is to greet customers, the store’s standard operating procedures call for idle greeters to stage shopping carts by dislodging them from one another and loosely nesting them, making it easier for customers to obtain carts.

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Last month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case that raised an interesting issue that arises in many Florida slip-and-fall cases. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss the extent of the duty that was owed to the plaintiff by the defendant, who operated a vacation rental house that was rented out on a weekly basis. This is an important determination because Florida premises liability cases often turn on the extent of the duty the defendant owes to the plaintiff.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a slip-and-fall accident in a vacation rental home that was owned by the defendants. According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the defendants rented the fully furnished house out for approximately six months, using the house themselves for the remaining portion of the year.

During the six months when the house was being rented out, the defendants used a property management company to handle the day-to-day affairs. The property management company advertised the home for rent, provided cleaning and linen services in between occupancies, and dealt with the check-in and check-out process.

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