COVID-19 FAQs

Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Recently, an appellate court issued its opinion in an appeal stemming from the tragic death of a man in a Florida hotel swimming pool. The man’s wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hotel alleging, among other issues, that the hotel was responsible for the death of her husband because they failed to hire professional lifeguards to supervise its swimming pool.

According to the court’s opinion, the man was a guest of the hotel when he entered the swimming pool, which was operated and maintained by the hotel. While the man was swimming, he became submerged and died from drowning. His wife alleged that that the hotel breached their duty to provide and maintain a reasonably safe swimming pool and failed to protect their guests from unreasonable risk of physical harm. During the trial, the court provided the jury with an instruction that Florida law had no legal duty to “post a professional lifeguard at its pool.” The woman appealed the jury instruction and the trial court’s ruling granting the defendant summary judgment.

Under Florida law, negligence occurs when a person or entity fails to exercise reasonable care by engaging in a behavior that a reasonably careful person would not do, or failing to do something that a reasonably prudent person would do under similar circumstances. Generally, trial courts maintain the discretion to determine whether a jury instruction is appropriate, and instructions should not be overturned on appeal, unless there is a showing of prejudicial error.

Playground accidents can occur on Florida school property during school hours or at city and county parks. Some accidents are the result of child’s play and may not result in serious injuries. However, other preventable accidents are the result of someone’s negligence. In many instances, a child’s injuries are the result of defective equipment or negligent supervision. Florida children who have suffered playground injuries because of another person or entity’s negligence should contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

Typical defendants in Florida playground accidents are playground equipment manufacturers or retailers, school employees, or the city or county responsible for maintaining the playground. These cases entail many challenges because plaintiffs must comply with strict filing notices and deadlines. Requirements vary depending on the nature of the accident, type of lawsuit, and defendant.

Playground accidents, specifically those that occur on school grounds, are not always related to defective equipment, but may involve instances of altercations between students. For example, in a recent opinion, a state appellate court addressed evidentiary burdens in a lawsuit involving a physical altercation on a school playground. In that case, the child suffered injuries when other students attacked her during recess. The family filed a lawsuit alleging that the child’s injuries were a result of the school’s negligence and carelessness because of the school’s failure to supervise children on the playground adequately.

Negligent entrustment is a cause of action recognized in Florida personal injury cases. Proving negligent entrustment generally means establishing that another person or entity negligently allowed someone to use a dangerous object. In Florida, state courts have recognized section 390 of the Second Restatement of Torts, which states that if a someone supplies an object to another person and knows or has reason to believe it is likely that the object will be used in a way that involves unreasonable risk of physical harm to himself and others, that person is subject to liability for the resulting harm.

For example, a Florida court has found parents liable for negligent entrustment after they allowed their thirteen-year-old son to drive an ATV, after the ATV was involved an accident. That court decided that the parents knew or should have known that their son could not be entrusted with an ATV and that he was likely to violate the rules they had given him. In contrast, a Florida court found that a man could not be held liable for negligent entrustment after he put his drunk brother’s car keys in a place where he could easily have found them.

One state Supreme Court recently issued a decision in a negligent entrustment case. In that case, the plaintiff was knocked over and hospitalized at a grocery store by another customer driving a motorized cart. The plaintiff had about $11,500 in medical bills, and filed a negligent entrustment claim against the grocery store, claiming that the store should not have allowed the customer to use the motorized cart. After a jury found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding $121,000 in compensatory damages and $1,198,000 in punitive damages, the state’s supreme court reversed.

Although injured workers must normally recover financial compensation from their employers through Florida workers’ compensation, an independent contractor may be able to recover for workplace injuries through a personal injury case. One federal appeals court recently dismissed a case that was brought in federal court involving an independent contractor who slipped and fell at a worksite. The court considered whether the hazard was one that the defendant was required to address or at least warn the plaintiff of.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff suffered a severe knee injury when he slipped on fluid at an auto dealership that the defendant owned. The auto dealership hired a cleaning company to clean the dealership, including scrubbing all service floors six times a week with a degreasing chemical provided by the dealership. The plaintiff was an employee of the cleaning company and was going to take out the trash at the dealership before scrubbing the floors in the service area when he slipped and fell on liquid on the floor. It appeared to be oil or transmission fluid. The plaintiff claimed that the dealership failed to warn the plaintiff of the hazardous condition, and that it failed to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition.

The court found that the defendant could not be held liable because the plaintiff was hurt by a hazard that he was required to remedy. The court stated that a property owner generally has the same duty to the employees of independent contractors as it does to all other lawful visitors — to take reasonable and appropriate steps to prevent injury under the circumstances. However, in the case of independent contractors, property owners are not liable for risks that are “inherent in the job and of which the employee is fully aware.” That is, if a person is hired to remedy a hazard, that person would normally be aware of the potential of injury from that hazard. In contrast with the general public, that person would be aware of the risk they faced.

Slip and fall accidents can occur virtually anywhere and often have a lifelong impact on the victim. Florida premises liability lawsuits can be challenging, but accidents that occur on public property are inherently more complex. Some common examples of defective or dangerous conditions on public property are slippery surfaces, uneven sidewalks, insufficient lighting, hazardous pedestrian areas, and unsafe stairways. These conditions can exist around public libraries, government buildings, courthouses, and city playgrounds. When an individual suffers injuries of this nature, they should retain a dedicated Florida injury attorney to understand their rights and remedies.

Generally, under Florida tort law, a person or entity can be liable for injuries that result because of their negligence. However, when the negligent party is a government agency or employee, the victim may not have any recourse due to government immunity laws. Government immunity prohibits individuals from suing a state or its employees for civil damages. However, there are some notable exceptions to this doctrine.

Florida’s sovereign immunity statute allows for lawsuits against government entities in specific situations. However, even in these situations, Florida victims must abide by the statute’s strict rules to prevent dismissal. Typically, Florida courts will only hear negligence cases filed within the four-year statute of limitations. However, the statute of limitations in government negligence lawsuits is three-years. Moreover, before a victim files a lawsuit, they must notify the Florida Department of Financial Services. A lawsuit is appropriate only after the state denies the claim or fails to reply. Further, generally, a plaintiff’s damages cannot exceed $200,000 per incident.

Under Florida law, business and property owners must take steps to ensure that their land is free of dangers and safe for visitors. Typically, if a person sustains injuries because of a dangerous condition on another’s property, they can file a Florida premises liability lawsuit to recover for their injuries. In addition to establishing that the defendant violated a legal duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff, Florida injury victims must also prove that the defendant’s negligence was the actual or proximate cause of their injuries. Issues can arise if some independent intervening or superseding event breaks the causal link.

In many Florida personal injury lawsuits, causation is evident. For example, causation may be apparent when a person experiences shoulder pain after a car accident or breaks a leg tripping on a faulty staircase. However, an independent intervening cause is something that occurs after the defendant’s negligent act and contributes to or causes the plaintiff’s injuries. If the act is unforeseeable and causes an injury, the defendant may not be liable for the plaintiff’s damages.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a premises liability case in which the defendant claimed, amongst other issues, that the plaintiff’s injuries were not foreseeable. In that case, a truck driver parked his car in a rented space and fell asleep while awaiting a shipment. The driver awoke when he heard someone trying to break into the truck with a pry bar. When the truck driver stuck his head out of the window to see the culprit, the man drove the truck away with the driver hanging out of the cab. The truck driver’s head hit a trailer, and he was thrown out of the truck and run over numerous times.

Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a case discussing a crucial issue that arises in many Florida personal injury cases. The case required the court to determine if the defendant insurance company could be named as a responsible party.

The facts of the case are not complicated, but the relationships between the parties are a little confusing. According to the court’s opinion, a girl was visiting a resort while at a Bible camp. The church leased several conference rooms from the resort. The resort had various other amenities, including a zip-line. The lease between the church and the resort did not mention the zip-line.

The young girl and a few friends decided to go zip-lining during some downtime. The girls had to sign release waivers and pay an additional fee. Unfortunately, while the girl was on the course, a resort employee forgot to clip the girl’s carabiner to the line, and she fell 50 feet. The girl and her family filed a personal injury case against the resort.

Not surprisingly, slip-and-fall accidents are most common in areas that receive a high volume of foot traffic. Thus, shopping malls, grocery stores, sidewalks, and parking lots are the most common places Florida slip-and-fall accidents occur. Each of these locations presents unique dangers and may implicate multiple defendants. A recent state appellate opinion in a premises liability case illustrates the type of analysis courts engage in when reviewing slip-and-fall claims.

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was shopping at the defendant grocery store. Evidently, the plaintiff finished shopping and was returning her car to the corral in the parking lot that holds the carts until an employee can retrieve them. The plaintiff wheeled the cart into the corral without any issue. However, after depositing the cart into the corral, the plaintiff tripped as she exited the corral.

Apparently, the flat, metal crossbar that connected the two sides of the corral that was supposed to lie flat against the ground was slightly raised. According to the defendant, a delivery driver bumped into the corral a few months earlier, causing the frame of the corral to shift, slightly lifting the crossbar off the ground. The defendant grocery store indicated that it knew about the damaged corral, and had called to inquire about getting it fixed, but the repair was not made.

In March, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a slip-and-fall case raising an interesting issue involving the liability of a security company. The case presents an interesting issue for Florida accident victims because it required the court to determine if the plaintiff could hold the defendant security company liable for injuries she sustained while at a shopping mall. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff could not do so because she was not a third-party beneficiary of the contract between the mall and the defendant security company.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff and her husband were shopping at the mall when the plaintiff tripped and fell on a rubber mat. The plaintiff claimed that the mat was protruding from underneath a desk immediately before the secured entrance. At the time of the plaintiff’s fall, an employee of the defendant security company was sitting at the desk. The plaintiff’s husband took pictures of the mat after his wife’s fall, and it appeared to be curled up at the edges.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability case against several parties, including the security company. The defendant claimed that it owed her no duty of care because it did not control the area where the plaintiff fell and that the plaintiff was not a third-party beneficiary of the contract with the mall. That contract provided that the defendant would, among other things, “ensure that prompt action is taken to prevent or minimize losses, accidents, fires, property damages, safety hazards and security incidents.” The lower court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed.

As a general rule, Florida landowners owe those whom they allow or invite onto their property a duty to ensure that the property is reasonably safe. The exact nature of this duty depends on several factors, including the relationship between the parties and the nature of the hazards that are present on the landowner’s property. When a landowner violates this duty, and a guest is injured as a result, the guest may be able to pursue a claim for compensation against the landowner. A recent case decided by a state appellate court illustrates the type of evidence a social guest must present to recover from a landowner.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a guest at a birthday party that was held at the defendant’s home. The defendant, however, was not the host of the party, and had allowed a friend to host the party at his home. When the plaintiff arrived at the party, she walked around the side of the house down to the backyard where the party was being held. As she made her way down a set of stairs, she tripped and fell. After her fall, she saw that there was an orange extension cord running across the steps. The defendant also stated that there were a lot of people inside the home at the time of her fall.

The defendant admitted that he was doing yard work earlier that day, but explained that all of his tools were gas-powered and that he did not use extension cords. He did, however, acknowledge, that he owned several orange extension cords. The defendant also explained that he left his home before the party started and arrived after the plaintiff’s fall, and that he had no knowledge of how the cord got there or who put it there. The plaintiff filed a premises liability case against the defendant, arguing that he was negligent in the maintenance of his property, which resulted in her injuries. The defendant unsuccessfully moved for summary judgment and filed an appeal.

Contact Information