In Florida, the Third District Court of Appeals recently issued a decision in a plaintiff’s appeal of a trial court’s finding in favor of an apartment complex. According to the record, the apartment complex owns a six-floor building. On the day of the incident, the then seventeen-year-old plaintiff trespassed and gained access to the apartment complex rooftop with the intention to commit suicide. The plaintiff did not complete suicide but endured severe injuries, including the amputation of his leg.
In Florida, premises liability law provides that generally, property owner or occupier has a duty to maintain a premise or property in a reasonably safe way. Additionally, a plaintiff may pursue a negligence per se claim if they establish that the defendant violated an ordinance or law to prevent the type of incident that occurred.
In this case, the plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the complex, alleging that the defendant owed a duty to prevent suicide on the rooftop. Under the restriction theory of suicide prevention, the theory posits that by eliminating or restricting access to methods by which people attempt suicide, the overall rate of suicide attempts decreases. However, the plaintiff’s complaint does not allege that the defendant breached a specific duty to prevent or guard against his suicide attempt. As such, the trial court concluded that private building owners do not owe a duty to undiscovered trespassers to prevent suicide.
On appeal, the court reasoned that the plaintiff did not establish a cause of action for premises liability or negligence per se against the apartment complex. Generally, under Florida law, there is no liability for the suicide in the absence of a specific duty of care. Moreover, in the context of premises liability, the “only duty a property owner owes to an undiscovered trespasser is to refrain from causing intentional harm.” Further, the only duty a property owner owes to a “known” trespasser is to refrain from intentional harm or gross negligence and to warn the individual of known conditions that may not be readily observable to others. As such, the appeals court ultimately found that the plaintiff did not have a viable claim for negligence per se or premises liability. The court dismissed the complaint with prejudice.
Have You Suffered Injuries on Another’s Property?
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries or died because of the negligence of a home or business owner, contact Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada to discuss your rights to compensation. The lawyers at our office maintain a long history of successfully representing Florida accident vicitms in their personal injury matters. In addition to Florida premises liability and negligence per se claims, the office handles cases involving traffic accidents, maritime law, construction accidents, defective products, medical malpractice, bad faith insurance claims, and nursing home negligence. We have recovered significant amounts of compensation for our client’s medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other similar losses. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 today to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney on our team.