Wednesday, September 28, 2016
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is the legal concept that an owner of land can be held liable for injuries that occur to third parties on his or her land.
A common scenario in which premises liability becomes an issue is when someone is injured due to something defective or dangerous on the property of another. An example of this would be a roller coaster coming off the tracks and injuring people at an amusement park. In other scenarios, someone may be injured solely due to the owner’s carelessness. An example of this would be someone falling in a pool of water at a supermarket that had been there for some time. In both scenarios, the status of the injured party at the time of their entry on to the property determines the legal duty owed by the property owner.
Duties of a Property Owner to Third Parties on Their Land
Under Florida law,1 the property owner owes two distinct duties to third parties:
Duty to Repair or Warn -- The first duty is to repair or provide reasonable warning of any dangers that the owner knows or should know of which the visitor cannot or should not be able to discover on their own using reasonable care. The best way for a property owner to guard against this is to simply make sure that the property is properly maintained and kept in good repair. Any dangers that have not been fixed need to have proper warnings for those that may encounter them. This duty is owed to public invitees, business invitees, and licensees by invitation as follows:
A public invitee is one who is invited to enter or remain on land as a member of the public for a purpose for which the land is open to the public. This would include, for example, anyone who is visiting a public area during normal operating hours and is using the property for its intended use. An example of this would be going to a public park or swimming pool during the hours they are open. Going to the same swimming pool after hours, however, would not afford the third party the same duty owed by the owner.
A business invitee, on the other hand, is a person who is invited on the land for a specific purpose. Essentially, this means anyone who is visiting a business during normal operating hours and is using the property for its intended use. Going to a grocery store and shopping for food would be an example of where the business invitee is owed this duty. Breaking in after hours and getting injured or attempting to climb shelves for fun would be examples where the duty is no longer owed.
A licensee by invitation is essentially a social guest. They are someone invited onto property for the purposes of spending time with them in a social setting. The scope of the protections owed to these types of guests expires when they are no longer invited or welcome to stay on the owner’s property.
Duty to Protect From Willful Conduct -- The second duty that a property owner owes to third parties is to protect against injury from willful or wanton conduct. This protection means that the owner cannot leave “traps” to catch people or do other similarly dangerous things. This protection is owed to uninvited licensees and trespassers.
A trespasser is one who enters the land of another without any such right to do so. An example would be a criminal breaking into a building.
An uninvited licensee is someone who chooses to enter property solely for their own convenience and not at the request or invitation of the land owner. This could be a next door neighbor who crosses through their neighbor’s yard on their way to the bus stop. There is no real intent to enter the land, but rather the third party just meanders briefly onto their neighbor’s land.
Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation!
If you have been injured while on someone else’s property, contact a Clearwater personal injury attorney right away. Florida tort law allows victims to recover compensation for injuries and other losses that they may experience as a result of a preventable accident. A lawyer familiar with litigating Florida personal injury cases can often help victims recover substantially more compensation than they would be able to retain on their own, so it is highly advisable for anyone injured in an accident to discuss their options with an experienced lawyer.
Since 2009, the Dolman Law Group has been representing the legal rights of people injured in preventable accidents. Unlike many other personal injury law firms, we provide individualized representation to each client we take and are prepared to take each case to trial if the best interests of our clients demands it. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call our office today at 727-451-6900 or send us an email through our online contact form.