In a recent Florida District Court of Appeal opinion, the court considered whether a defendant was civilly liable for a death that occurred on its property. The case is unique because it involved allegations that the deceased accident victim was involved in criminal activity shortly before she died.
The plaintiff in the case filed a claim against the defendant lodge after her mother was fatally shot in a parking lot owned and operated by the lodge. Following a brawl between some individuals who were part of the decedent’s group and some members of the shooter’s group inside the lodge, the two groups were removed to the parking lot, where a second fight began. Evidence showed that the decedent participated in the parking lot fight and struck a pregnant female who was part of the shooter’s group. After the fight in the parking lot ended, the shooter’s group left the parking lot, and the decedent’s group got into their vehicle, which was parked in the defendant’s parking lot. Before the decedent’s group could pull out of the parking lot, the shooter’s group returned to the lot and opened fire on their vehicle. The decedent was fatally shot while sitting in the front seat.
At the lower court, the defendant argued that they should not be held liable for the decedent’s death because the decedent knowingly struck a pregnant female on their property, committing a crime. Because Florida law prohibits an accident victim from recovering for their injuries if they were hurt while engaging in a crime, the defendant argued that they were not responsible for the decedent’s death. The trial court disagreed and argued that the defense did not apply because the decedent was not engaged in a felony when she was shot.
On appeal, the court agreed with the trial court’s decision. Because the defense only applies when someone is injured while committing or attempting to commit a felony and the decedent was not engaged in a felony when she was shot, the defendants were still responsible for her death since it took place on their property. Although the court acknowledged that it was a possibility that the decedent committed a felony when she knowingly struck a pregnant woman in the parking lot brawl, she was sitting in a vehicle and no longer engaged in a felony when she was fatally shot. As a result, the district court did not err when finding that the defense did not apply in this case.
Do You Need a Florida Personal Injury Attorney?
If you or someone you love has been recently injured while on the property of another, contact the Florida premises liability attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada today. Our Florida personal injury attorneys have represented clients in all types of personal injury and premises liability claims, and can assist you in successfully navigating the complexities of the legal system. Contact us today for a free initial consultation at 877-448-8585. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are successful in helping you recover for your injuries or loss.