What Is an Intervening Cause in a Florida Premises Liability Lawsuit?

Under Florida law, business and property owners must take steps to ensure that their land is free of dangers and safe for visitors. Typically, if a person sustains injuries because of a dangerous condition on another’s property, they can file a Florida premises liability lawsuit to recover for their injuries. In addition to establishing that the defendant violated a legal duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff, Florida injury victims must also prove that the defendant’s negligence was the actual or proximate cause of their injuries. Issues can arise if some independent intervening or superseding event breaks the causal link.

In many Florida personal injury lawsuits, causation is evident. For example, causation may be apparent when a person experiences shoulder pain after a car accident or breaks a leg tripping on a faulty staircase. However, an independent intervening cause is something that occurs after the defendant’s negligent act and contributes to or causes the plaintiff’s injuries. If the act is unforeseeable and causes an injury, the defendant may not be liable for the plaintiff’s damages.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a premises liability case in which the defendant claimed, amongst other issues, that the plaintiff’s injuries were not foreseeable. In that case, a truck driver parked his car in a rented space and fell asleep while awaiting a shipment. The driver awoke when he heard someone trying to break into the truck with a pry bar. When the truck driver stuck his head out of the window to see the culprit, the man drove the truck away with the driver hanging out of the cab. The truck driver’s head hit a trailer, and he was thrown out of the truck and run over numerous times.

The defendant alleged that they should not be liable because the driver’s injuries were because of an independent intervening act of the criminal. The plaintiff successfully argued that the court should dismiss the defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on the foreseeability of the crime. The plaintiff presented evidence that the defendants were aware of similar crimes, and they were supposed to have security on-site to prevent these incidents.

Generally, plaintiffs can argue that the intervening or superseding cause was foreseeable, and therefore the defendants should still be liable. However, there are some exceptions to the unforeseeability rule that plaintiffs should know. First, in some instances, intentional torts may eliminate liability. Next, in some cases, a criminal act may limit liability, even if it is foreseeable. Finally, a defendant may be able to argue that a third person who could have fixed the condition failed to act.

Have You Been Injured on Another’s Property?

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries because of the negligence of another, you should contact the dedicated and experienced Florida injury attorneys at Friedman Rodman & Frank, P.A. Florida premises liability lawsuits are complex and entail unique challenges. The attorneys at our firm have extensive experience handling these complicated lawsuits and can help overcome the various barriers these cases often raise. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you sustained. Compensation may include payments for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and property damage. Contact our South Florida law firm at 877- 448-8585 to schedule your free initial consultation.

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