What is Premises Liability?

By F. Scott Pauzar, III, Florida Premises Liability Attorney

Have you ever wondered who is responsible when a person slips and falls, resulting in an injury in a business environment? How about injuries while visiting another person’s home, a playground, a public pool, or at a hotel on vacation? In Florida, personal injury law includes premises liability. Meaning owners are responsible for their properties as follows:

“A premises liability lawsuit holds a property owner responsible for any damages arising out of an injury on that person or entity’s property. In all states, owners that occupy a property must make a reasonable effort to maintain a safe environment for visitors to it. Failure to keep the property safe for visitors results in “premises liability.” (Justia.com)

Premises Liability Attorney

A Florida premises liability attorney can help determine the merits of your case based on injuries sustained on others’ properties. Contact Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, Naples personal injury attorneys, today.

A few everyday situations that may give rise to premises liability lawsuits or claims are:

Slip and Fall Accidents

man sitting on floor after fall down stairs at a businessAccording to the National Floor Safety Institute, half of the slips and falls are caused by issues with walkway surfaces stating, “Slips, trips, and falls are serious problems to be concerned about … Most falls are preventable!” They also say that falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits, with fractures as the most severe consequence of falls. Suppose you fall and are injured on another person’s or business property. In that case, you may be entitled to compensation for this unfortunate event if the property owner could have prevented or made you aware of the hazard.

Inadequate Maintenance

A business or property owner is responsible for adequately maintaining their property to prevent severe injuries to those present on their property. Under Florida law, the owner of a property or tenant, such as a shop owner or grocery store owner, is responsible for maintaining a premise or property in a reasonable condition and free of hazards. A failure to do so may create liability if an injury results from negligent property maintenance. For example, leaving spills on the floor instead of adequately removing them to prevent a fall.

However, the business owner must have had knowledge of the dangerous situation. Florida Statute 768.0755 relating to Premises liability for transitory foreign substances in a business establishment states:

“(1) If a person slips and falls on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment, the injured person must prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it. Constructive knowledge may be proven by circumstantial evidence showing that:

(a) The dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have known of the condition; or

(b) The condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.”

A few other examples of poor maintenance include poor lighting, wet floors or mats with no signage, elevator/escalator accidents, faulty railings, or uneven or broken floor tiles among others.

Animal Attacks and Dog Bites

Under Florida law, owners of dogs are strictly liable for any injuries caused by their animals on their properties. In other words, Florida dog owners are held liable if their dog bites someone, even if the owner had no prior knowledge or warning that the dog might bite. Liability means that victims of dog bite injuries do not need to establish that the dog owner was somehow negligent; it is enough to simply prove ownership of the dog.

Swimming Pool Accidents

Although we enjoy them for fun and recreation, accidents in swimming pools unfortunately are a common occurrence in Florida. These could include slip and fall, drownings, electrocutions, accidents related to drains, diving board, or poolside accidents, including head injuries. Remember that you have four years to file a swimming pool accident claim unless it results in a wrongful death, where you must bring a claim forward within two years. Your premises liability attorney will help you stay within the guidelines of the law for making your claim.

A property owner who has invited you to use their swimming pool or a hotel must maintain a duty of care to ensure swimmers are safe and be aware of any hazardous conditions, including proper security and rules regarding pool use. If not, you can make a claim for damages if you can prove any negligence. A Naples FL personal injury attorney can help.

Playgrounds and Recreation Centers

Should you or your children sustain an injury on a playground, you may be entitled to compensation according to your situation. Common injuries are broken bones or dislocated joints, concussions, bruising or internal injuries. These injuries are sometimes caused by defective equipment, poor lighting, inappropriate surfaces, or a general lack of maintenance of the play area. In some cases, the manufacturer of the equipment may be liable. In others, the property owner may have failed to provide a safe environment or well-maintained premises for the intended recreational purpose.

Negotiations with Insurance Companies

To make a premises liability insurance claim, a person must sustain an injury resulting from an accident. Insurance companies and courts do not award damages for hypothetical situations or general complaints, and injuries must be proven by the person bringing the claim, the plaintiff. A qualified personal injury attorney is best suited to help you negotiate with the insurance company if have sustained an injury. Your attorney will walk you through the process and, with the attorney’s knowledge and experience of such cases, will likely be able to negotiate a better outcome than you can alone. Additionally, insurance companies may stall the process and result in the injured party missing the statute of limitations deadline. Don’t let this happen to you. Get help from an attorney.

Liability Determination

A property owner must uphold a duty of care to keep their property safe and be determined negligent for a plaintiff to recover monetary amounts due to a premises injury. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine actual negligence in accident situations. The person injured may not realize all the issues surrounding filing claims for accidents in Florida. For example, an insurance company may try to make you a low settlement offer before a full investigation is complete and the appropriate liable parties identified. Therefore, liability determination is one of the most critical aspects of your premises liability case.

Compensation for Accidents

Suppose you or your loved ones are injured while at a restaurant, business, or other property. If so, get the compensation you deserve. Do not settle for insurance offers without speaking to a premises liability and insurance attorney today. You may be surprised about the monetary settlement you are entitled to recover because of a terrible injury. There are many factors in determining proper compensation due to an injury resulting from owner premises liability, so be sure to take all legal issues into account and consideration, including general pain and suffering in addition to medical bills.

Contact an Experienced Premises Liability Attorney Today

Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. has proudly represented the residents of Collier County for over 50 years. We conveniently offer our personal injury and premises liability legal services on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay nothing unless we obtain a settlement or favorable outcome at trial for your injury case. So don’t go it alone. Our highly skilled personal injury attorney will guide you through the Florida legal process and assist you with all steps after your unfortunate injury. Call 239-649-6555 today or visit www.wpl-legal.com.

About the Attorney

Attorney in suit Scott Pauzar

F. Scott Pauzar, III, Florida Personal Injury Lawyer

F. Scott Pauzar, III is a litigation and personal injury law attorney in Woodward, Pires & Lombardo’s Naples office. He has a broad base of legal knowledge and skills cultivated through over 15 years of experience as a litigator in complex litigation in both state and federal courts. Previously, Scott was an Assistant State Attorney at the 20th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office in Fort Myers. During his five years as a Prosecutor, Scott conducted over 30 jury trials. After leaving the Office of the State Attorney, Scott served as an insurance defense attorney for 11 years, where his practice focused on litigation of complex cases and catastrophic injuries. Scott now combines his jury trial and defense experience to successfully represent his clients in litigation and personal injury law matters.

Scott is a military veteran, having served on active duty in the United States Air Force between 1989 and 1993. He is a native of Naples, Florida. Scott received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Jacksonville University in 1996 and his Juris Doctor from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in 2004. He is a member of The Florida Bar, and is admitted to practice in the U.S. Middle District and U.S. Northern District of Florida.

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