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.
The plaintiff checked in to the defendant’s home, and was provided linens for their stay. While the plaintiff was carrying the basket of linens through the house, she tripped on a raised transition strip that separated a carpeted room from a room with tiled flooring. The plaintiff filed a premises liability claim against the home’s owners, claiming that they failed to maintain the house in a safe condition.
The issue presented to the court was what duty of care the defendant homeowners owed to the plaintiff. The defendant argued that the arrangement was similar to a landlord/tenant arrangement, and thus they owed her “no duty of care to maintain or repair the premises and no duty to warn of a dangerous condition on the premises unless they knew of a dangerous condition that was not open and obvious.” The plaintiff argued that the arrangement resembled the relationship between a hotel guest and an innkeeper, which imposed a duty on the defendants “to take every reasonable precaution to protect the person and property of their guests.”
The court agreed with the defendants, and dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim. The court relied on several facts in finding that the arrangement was akin to a landlord/tenant relationship, including:
- The home was not a “public place” for “the accommodation of travelers,” and required advance booking and was only available to families;
- The defendants did not remain on site, and were prohibited from entering the home while renters occupied it;
- The defendants did not provide security, food service, room service, or a daily maid service; and
- The home required a security deposit.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Florida slip-and-fall accident, the attorneys at the dedicated South Florida personal injury law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank can help. We represent injury victims in all types of Florida personal injury lawsuits, and have a successful track record over the past 42 years. To learn more about how we can help you recover for the injuries you have sustained, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Discusses Personal Injury Plaintiff’s Evidentiary Burden at the Summary Judgement Stage, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 18, 2018.
Court Permits Car Accident Plaintiff to Proceed with Both Respondeat Superior and Negligent Entrustment Theory, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 25, 2018.