Injuries arising from the negligence of property owners is extremely common, and yet is governed by a large set of complex and nuanced areas of the law. This blog will attempt to give a general overview of Premise Liability law.
What is Premise Liability?
Premise liability is a type of legal liability that all property owners who invite guests onto their premises bear. In essence, property owners can be liable for injuries guests endure if they were caused by unsafe or defective conditions on the property. Whether or not a business is liable is a complicated question.
Generally, an owner can be liable for damages on their property if they created the danger, knew about the danger, but did nothing about it, or should have known about the danger, but didn’t (thereby still doing nothing about it). Exactly what should be done is a complicated question, and is situational depending on state law, and the way the injury occurred.
Florida is a comparative law state, meaning that the victim can be assigned a percentage of the blame for their own injuries if they acted in an unreasonable manner which contributed to their own injuries. For example, a victim may be assigned 10% of the blame, which would lower their total damages received by 10%.
What is Premise Liability Insurance?
Pretty much every reputable business will have premise liability insurance. This type of insurance covers injuries having to do with injuries caused by defective premises. Having this insurance is important.
While large multi-million dollar businesses could probably pay out damages where a person is injured on their premises just from their own funds, smaller businesses might have more trouble. In most cases, this insurance allows victims to collect damages, even if they are collecting from small businesses that may not have many assets themselves.
What Types of Premise Liability Cases are There?
There are many types of possible premise liability cases that could occur. Therefore, it is important for property owners and guests to be aware of the likely dangers, to avoid injuries and know their legal rights.
Slip and Fall Cases
The classic and very common injury that occurs on premises, slip and fall cases generally occur when a patron falls due to a slippery floor. These types of falls can cause great injuries to a person, some of which may not be noticeable immediately. This is why it is always important to get checked out after an injury occurs.
Comparative negligence generally comes up in these cases, especially where the defense argued they placed down a wet floor sign.
Inadequate Maintenance of the Premises
Business owners are responsible for keeping their premises safe. In some cases, a failure to repair broken sidewalks, or burst pipes can cause injury, and produce liability for the business owner.
Defective Conditions on the Premises
Just as where a business is responsible for repairing broken damages, they are responsible for keeping making sure that all damage on the premises are repaired, they are also responsible for making sure nothing on the premises is actually defective to begin with. Improper construction of sidewalks or other utilities could create injuries the owner is responsible for.
Inadequate Building Security Leading to Injury or Assault
In certain cases, the premise owner can be at least partly financially liable for an assault or robbery carried out by an unrelated criminal, if the premise owner had inadequate security to protect guests. This is a particularly complicated area of the law, with many cases on the subject specifically relating to the responsibilities of apartment owners.
Still, it is an important liability rule. In many situations it may be impossible to identify the criminal, or the criminal may have no money. In those cases, the only way to get the necessary financial support for your injuries would be to go after the premise owner.
Elevator and Escalator Accidents
In some cases, elevators and escalators can be dangerous. Business owners have a responsibility to make sure these machines are safe, and have proper warning signs attached.
A common premise liability at private houses, dog bites are governed under the strict liability rules. This means that, except for a few select exceptions, the dog owner is automatically liable for any damages caused by their dog bite regardless of the victim’s reasonableness. This is a different standard when compared to the regular comparative negligence.
Swimming Pool Accidents
Another common danger originating from private houses. Owners are responsible for making sure their pool is safe, and taking precautions to keep children who can’t swim out of their pool, even when those children may be trespassing. This is why it is important to keep a pool safely behind a locked fence.
Amusement Park Accidents
Generally, roller coasters are not flying off their tracks. But, rides can still cause back and neck injuries if not properly maintained, improperly designed, or lack the proper warnings to prevent those who should not ride from getting on. If a victim was injured on a ride, they may be able to get compensation.
By law, business owners must have fire alarms, fire extinguishers clearly marked emergency exits, and other fire prevention procedures to do their best to prevent the existence and the spreading of fire on their premises.
Toxic Fume and Chemicals
When dealing with chemicals, businesses are required to follow legal regulations to prevent the dangerous spread of fumes and chemicals. If they fail to do this, they can be held liable.
Examples of Premise Liability Cases
Slip and Fall
The most common example of a slip and fall case is the classic drink spill. A good case for the plaintiff might occur when a waiter at the restaurant spilled a drink on a floor, but only quickly and inadequately cleans it up due to it being a dinner rush. If someone slips on this liquid, the business will likely be responsible, barring some negligence on the part of the customer.
Inadequate Building Security
If a business chooses not to have cameras, lights, or any security force in their parking lot at night even though they are open, they will likely find themselves liable for any injuries caused by wrongdoers on the property.
Swimming Pool Accidents
If a homeowner leaves their gate open, and their pool uncovered at night they may be liable for injuries if a young child wanders into their pool.
Premise liability is a vast and complicated area of Florida law. It is partially so vast because it is an extremely common form of negligence.
With that being said, it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side so that you can get the justice you deserve and need.
Bulluck law group has experience getting justice for those injured in premise liability cases. Contact us for a free consultation today.