In June 2019, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida premises liability case requiring the court determine if a property management company overseeing an apartment complex could be liable for a resident’s injuries. Ultimately, the court concluded that the agreement between the property management company and the owner of the complex may have placed a duty on the property management company to fix the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Thus, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision to grant the management company’s motion for summary judgment.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff had lived at the apartment complex for about 11 months. Typically, the plaintiff would drive to go get her mail from a kiosk located at the front of the complex. However, one day, she decided to walk. On her way, the plaintiff tripped and fell as she was walking down a sloped portion of the sidewalk that was designated for wheelchairs.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against several parties, including the property management company. Evidently, the property management company had entered into a contract with the owner of the complex whereby the company would advertise vacancies, collect rent, and maintain the property. Specifically, the agreement allowed the company to use its discretion when conducting repairs costing less than $2,000, but required owner approval for the more expensive maintenance unless “emergency action is necessary.” It was established that repairing the sidewalk would have cost more than $2,000. Both the property management company as the complex owner knew that the sloped walkway was not in compliance with city code.
The property management company argued that it could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because it had no duty to fix the ramp. The company pointed to the language in the lease agreement stating that repairs over $2,000 required owner approval. The court rejected the property management company’s argument, finding that under the agreement with the owner, it may have had a duty to repair the ramp. The court reasoned that the company knew that the slope did not comply with current code requirements, and that it was acting as the owner’s agent. Thus, under general principles of agency law, because the owner had an obligation to repair the ramp, the property management company did as well.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a Florida slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated South Florida injury lawyers at Friedman Rodman & Frank have extensive experience assisting injury victims and their families bring a wide range of claims, including Florida slip-and-fall accidents. We are skilled at identifying all potentially liable parties to best increase your chances at a successful recovery. To learn more about how we can help you with your situation, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we can help you get the compensation you deserve.