Because of Florida’s mild weather, it is unsurprising that many people choose to spend their winter holiday enjoying the state’s beaches and sunshine. While out and about this holiday season, it is still important to be cautious of your surroundings and environment, especially with crowds. When near water, there are often sharp rocks, poorly maintained infrastructure, or areas particularly prone to accidents or injuries taking place. To best protect yourself and your loved ones, it is crucial to stay vigilant this holiday season.
In a recent District Court of Appeal decision, the court had to consider a negligence action resulting from a slip and fall that took place on a Florida seawall dock. In the case in question, the plaintiff alleged breaches of duty by the defendant stemming from the defendant’s failure to safely maintain its premises and their failure to warn the plaintiff of the seawall’s dangerous condition. The plaintiff was using a specific part of the dock for the first time when he tripped and fell because of a divot. In response, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s negligence was the sole cause of the accident and that they did not owe a duty to warn the plaintiff because the cracked seawall from which the plaintiff was injured was open and obvious, so the plaintiff’s knowledge was equal to or greater than the defendant’s.
The trial court granted a motion for summary judgment, stating that the divot on which the plaintiff tripped was clearly visible and should have been obvious to the plaintiff. Although the defendant technically owed a duty to warn the plaintiff and to maintain its premises safely, the open and obvious nature of the condition precluded a finding of breached duty from the defendant.
The plaintiff appealed, again arguing that the defendant knew of the dangerous defect and failed to warn him or repair the defect. On appeal, the court sided with the plaintiff and reversed the lower court’s decision. Because it was not obvious whether the divot was an obviously dangerous condition and a reasonable jury could differ, the appeals court held that the lower court erred when it granted summary judgment to the defendant.
In Florida, the open and obvious nature of a hazard may discharge a landowner’s duty to warn, but it does not relinquish the landowner from their responsibility and duty to maintain their property so that it is reasonably safe.
When a hazard is open and obvious, landowners are still required to maintain their property and to repair the conditions that could foreseeably harm others. To determine whether a hazard could foreseeably harm someone, it depends on whether the landowner should have anticipated that the dangerous condition would cause injury despite the fact that it was open and obvious.
Do You Need a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you or someone you know was recently injured in a Florida slip and fall accident, contact the attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada for assistance today. Our lawyers fight for the injured and will work to get you the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact us at 877-448-8585.