Recently, an appeals court issued an opinion stemming from a woman’s injuries after falling in a Florida restaurant parking lot. According to the record, the woman and her then-boyfriend were meeting another couple at another restaurant in Naples. The man dropped the woman off in front of the restaurant while looking for parking. As the woman was looking toward the restaurants in the area, she tripped and fell to the ground. The victim could not specify what caused her fall, but it occurred around the pavers in front of the restaurant.
The woman filed lawsuits against the City and restaurant, adding that the restaurant negligently or incorrectly stalled the pavers, making them dangerous. The restaurant moved for summary judgment, asserting several defenses. The lower court ruled in favor of the restaurant’s motion to dismiss, and the woman appealed. On appeal, she argued that the restaurant failed to establish that they did not maintain a duty to the woman. In response, the restaurant claimed that it did not have a duty to maintain the public sidewalk and that it was the City’s responsibility.
In Florida premises liability cases, the inquiry into a defendant’s duty of care is not dependent upon ownership, instead of whether the party has control over the premises. The law requires those who have control over premises to keep the premises safe and in repair. Further, in cases where two entities share control of premises, the law imposes the duty of care upon both of them.
In this case, the restaurant argued that their lease provision shows that they do not own the property. However, the appeals court reasoned that a party who exercised control over property might have a duty to maintain its condition despite a contract. Further, questions regarding an entity’s control of an area are fact questions that a jury may decide. Here, although the woman could not pinpoint exactly where she fell she did establish that it occurred in the vicinity of the restaurant. Therefore, the law required the restaurant to establish that it did not have a duty of care for the pavers in front of its establishment. Moreover, while the lease did not require the restaurant to maintain the pavers, that does not negate their legal duty. Ultimately, the court reversed the lower court’s finding and remanded the case for further proceedings.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries or died in a Florida slip and fall accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada. The attorneys at our office have a longstanding reputation for successfully fighting for the injured. Our office handles Florida claims stemming from motor vehicle accidents, slip-and-fall, premises liability, defective products, medical negligence, and wrongful death. We have secured compensation for our clients for their lost wages, property damage, medical expenses, emotional distress, and pain and suffering. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney on our legal team.