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Florida Court Finds Condo Association May Be Liable for Injuries Caused by Uneven Sidewalk

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.

On appeal, the plaintiff did not dispute the trial court’s finding that the unlevel sidewalk was open and obvious. Instead, the plaintiff claimed that, notwithstanding the obvious nature of the hazard, the condo association still had the duty to repair it because it knew about the unlevel sidewalk and the fact that residents routinely encountered the hazard.

On Appeal

The appellate court agreed with the plaintiff, and reversed the lower court’s decision to dismiss her case. The court first noted, as did the lower court, that unlevel pavement is generally held to be an open and obvious hazard. The court also affirmed the lower court’s decision regarding the plaintiff’s failure-to-warn claim, reasoning that there is no duty to warn of an open and obvious hazard. However, the court agreed with the plaintiff’s reasoning regarding the defendant’s duty to repair the sidewalk. The court pointed to evidence in the record showing that condo management knew about the hazard and had even marked the sidewalk with blue dots to indicate that it was an area that should be prioritized for repair. Thus, the plaintiff’s case was permitted to proceed.

Are You Looking for a Florida Personal Injury Attorney?

If you or someone you care about has recently been injured on another’s property, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. At the South Florida personal injury law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank, we represent injury victims in all types of Florida slip-and-fall cases, including those occurring at businesses, government property, as well as at private residences. To schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced Florida injury lawyers, call 877-448-8585 today.

More Blog Posts:

Establishing Liability in Florida Swimming Pool Accidents, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 25, 2019.

Can a Court Exclude Relevant Evidence from a Florida Personal Injury Trial?, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 7, 2019.

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