The existence of a building code violation may be used as evidence of negligence in some Florida premises liability cases. Evidence of a violation may constitute negligence per se, where a defendant’s conduct may be automatically considered negligent. However, the Florida Supreme Court has stated that not all violations of statutes will be regarded as negligence per se. Florida’s Supreme Court has divided violations of laws into three types. First, there is a violation of a strict liability statute that is intended to protect certain people who cannot protect themselves, which constitutes negligence per se. Second, there is a violation of a statute that establishes a duty to take measures to protect specific persons from certain injuries, which also constitutes negligence per se. Third, there is a violation of any other kind of statute, which only constitutes prima facie evidence of negligence.
Florida courts have stated that building code violations are not typically strict liability violations, and are not intended to protect specific persons, but rather the public in general. Therefore, they usually fall into the third category of only prima facie evidence of negligence. But Florida courts have decided that a jury can consider building code violations in determining whether a defendant met the standard of care in a negligence case.
A state appellate court recently issued an opinion in a negligence claim in which there was evidence of several building code violations. The court considered whether the defendant could be held liable, particularly in light of the violations. In that case, the plaintiff tripped on a step in the defendants’ garage. Under the Uniform Building Code, there were seven violations of its provisions concerning the steps. The violations included that the landing was more than seven and a half inches below floor level, the step rise was more than eight inches, and the variation between the largest and smallest rise was more than one-fourth inch.
However, the court held that the plaintiff failed to show that there was an obvious feature in the garage steps that would indicate to the defendants that there was an unreasonable risk of harm or that there were prior incidents that would have suggested to defendants that a dangerous condition existed. In addition, the fact that there was a building code violation did not make the defendants automatically at fault because they were minor violations. In this case, the defendants were not aware of the violations, and the violations were minor, such as “deviating a few inches or less from the standards.”
Contact a South Florida Personal Injury Law Firm
If you have been injured on someone else’s property, you may be able to file a Florida premises liability claim to recover compensation for your injuries. The South Florida personal injury lawyers at Friedman, Rodman, & Frank, P.A. have over 100 years of combined experience in premises liability claims. Our attorneys have handled almost every type of slip and fall case imaginable and will apply their experience to your advantage. If you have been the victim of a slip and fall or another type of premises liability accident, contact us by calling 877-448-8585 or by reaching out to us online.