Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a case discussing a crucial issue that arises in many Florida personal injury cases. The case required the court to determine if the defendant insurance company could be named as a responsible party.
The facts of the case are not complicated, but the relationships between the parties are a little confusing. According to the court’s opinion, a girl was visiting a resort while at a Bible camp. The church leased several conference rooms from the resort. The resort had various other amenities, including a zip-line. The lease between the church and the resort did not mention the zip-line.
The young girl and a few friends decided to go zip-lining during some downtime. The girls had to sign release waivers and pay an additional fee. Unfortunately, while the girl was on the course, a resort employee forgot to clip the girl’s carabiner to the line, and she fell 50 feet. The girl and her family filed a personal injury case against the resort.
The resort later asked the church’s insurance company to acknowledge it was also partly responsible for compensating the plaintiff for her injuries. The insurance company refused, noting that nothing in the contract between the church and the resort mentioned the zip-line. The insurance company then filed a declaratory action, asking the court to hold that it was not legally responsible for any of the plaintiff’s injuries.
The court initially ruled that the resort was covered under the church’s insurance policy. The insurance company appealed. On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s decision, finding that the church’s insurance policy did not cover the resort (or the plaintiff’s injuries).
The court first acknowledged that the governing instrument, in this case, was the lease. The court noted that the insurance company could not be on the hook for the plaintiff’s injuries if the church did not ever have possession of the area where the plaintiff was injured. Because the lease did not mention the zip-line, and children with the church camp were not permitted to use the zip-line without signing a liability release waiver and paying a separate fee, the court determined that the church never took possession of the zip-line. Because of this, the church’s insurance company was not responsible for covering the costs of the plaintiff’s injuries.
While this case was technically between the resort and the church’s insurance company, it is relevant to plaintiffs because it shows the type of analysis courts conduct when determining if liability against a party is appropriate.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Personal Injury Accident?
If you or someone you love suffered a serious injury after a Florida slip and fall accident, contact the dedicated South Florida injury lawyers at Friedman Rodman & Frank. At our South Florida law firm, we represent injury victims and their families in all types of personal injury claims, including Florida premises liability cases. We also have extensive experience handling Florida premises car accident claims, wrongful death cases, and instances of medical malpractice. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.