Under general Florida premises liability law, a landowner has an obligation to ensure that their property is safe for those whom they allow onto their land. In Florida, as is the case in many states, the duty owed to a guest depends mainly on the reason for the guest’s visit. (Note: while trespassers may also be owed a duty under certain situations, that duty is limited and not discussed in this post.)
In general, there are two categories of welcome guests under Florida premises liability law. First, a licensee is someone who enters the landowner’s property for mutual benefit. Typically, these are family members, friends, and social guests. Licensees must be warned about any hazards that are known to the property owner but not obviously visible. The second category of visitor is an invitee. An invitee is someone who enters another’s property for the benefit of the landowner. Historically, invitees were limited to customers or those who entered another’s land for business purposes.
Of course, there are exceptions to these general principles. One of these exceptions is called the “firefighter’s rule.” Over the years, courts developed a rule that firefighter’s and other emergency responders could not hold a property owner liable for injuries they sustained while on the landowner’s property. The firefighter’s rule was based on the principle of “assumption of the risk,” meaning that a firefighter should be aware that her profession is a dangerous one and, by agreeing to serve in that capacity, she accepts and adopts those risks. Of course, this severely limits a firefighter’s ability to recover for her injuries when they are injured on the job, even when their injuries are the result of a landowner’s negligence.
In Florida, however, lawmakers have abolished the firefighter’s rule and in so doing extended important protections to emergency responders. Under Florida Statutes Section 112.182, “a firefighter or properly identified law enforcement officer who lawfully enters upon the premises of another in the discharge of his or her duty occupies the status of an invitee.” The statute goes on to explain that a property owner can be held liable for the injuries caused to a firefighter or law enforcement officer when the property owner:
- failed to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition; or
- failed to fix a dangerous condition that the property owner knew or should have known about; or
- failed to warn the invitee of a dangerous condition that the property owner had, or should have had, knowledge greater than that of the firefighter.
Thus, unlike in other jurisdictions that apply the firefighter’s rule, Florida law allows emergency responders to pursue claims for compensation against those who were responsible for their injuries.
Have You Been Injured?
If you or someone you love has recently been injured on the property of another while serving as a law enforcement officer or firefighter, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Florida premises liability lawsuit. At the dedicated South Florida personal injury law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank, we represent injury victims and their families in premises liability cases across the state. We also handle Florida car accidents, incidents of medical malpractice, and cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schedule your free consultation today. Calling is risk-free, because we will not bill you four our services unless we are able to help you recover for your injuries.