PREMISE LIABILITY

Premises liability litigation is a broad subcategory of personal injury law. Essentially, premises liability claims usually involve a tenant or visitor on property owned by some other individual or entity, and that tenant or visitor is involved in an accident or is injured in some way. If the harm they suffered as a result of their accident or injury was caused by the negligence of the property owner, the owner of the property oftentimes can be held liable for any acts (or omissions) that caused the victim’s harm.

If you have suffered something like this type of injury, and if you believe the injury occurred due to the negligence of the property owner, you may want to consider filing a lawsuit in order to receive compensation for your medical costs, physical disabilities resulting from the injuries, lost earnings or earning capacity, pain, and emotional distress.

Common Premises Liability Cases in Florida

Premises liability injuries and claims include things such as:

  • Slip and fall accidents;
  • Poorly maintained structures;
  • Attacks by dogs or other animals;
  • Exposure to toxic substances like lead, mold, unsanitary conditions, and other hazardous conditions existing on a property.

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Different Degrees of Liability in Florida

In Florida, the standard of care owed to an individual who is on property owned by someone else depends on their status.  Florida categorizes everybody on the property of someone else as either a trespasser, a licensee, or an invitee.

1. Trespassers

In Florida, trespassers are those people who aren’t supposed to be on the property at the time that they are hurt. Post v. Lunney, 261 So. 2d 146, 147 (Fla. 1972).

2. Licensees

The definition of a “licensee” is found in Stewart v. Texas Co., 67 So. 2d 653, 654 (Fla. 1953); but, simplistically, a “licensee” is someone who is neither prohibited from entering upon the premises nor invited to do so.

3. Invitees

The last category is “invitees,” which includes those who enter the property based upon an invitation by the owner of the property.  Florida law further sub-categorizes “invitees” as either “public invitees” or “business invitees.” Post v. Lunney, 261 So. 2d 146 (Fla. 1972):

  • A Public Invitee is “… a person who is invited to enter or remain on land as a member of the public for a purpose for which the land is held open to the public.”
  • A Business Invitee is “… a person who is invited to enter or remain on land for a purpose directly or indirectly connected with business dealings with the possessor of the land.”

The Florida Owner’s Duty Is Different for Invitees, Licensees, and Trespassers

A property owner’s “invitees” are owed the greatest level of protection under Florida law. Property owners are required to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition.  If there are parts of the property that are not reasonably safe, the owner must warn “invitees” of such dangers and correct the dangers within a reasonable amount of time.

On the other hand, licensees and trespassers (i.e., all those who have not been invited onto the property by the property owner, either explicitly or impliedly) are not provided as much protection by Florida law; trespassers in particular receive little, if any, protection. But, there are some exceptions, including the “attractive nuisance” exception and the fact that even trespassers can recover for harm resulting from traps intentionally set by the property owner.

The following graph (revised from the Florida Bar) does a good job encapsulating the various categories and the standards of care owed by property owners:

Status of the Visitor Description Owner Duties
Public Invitee A person who is invited to enter or remain on land as a member of the public for a purpose for which the land is held open to the public. To correct or warn of dangers that the owner knows or should know of by the use of reasonable care, and which the visitor cannot or should not know of by the use of reasonable care.
To maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition, including to guard against foreseeable third-party crimes.
Business Invitee A person who is invited to enter or remain on land for a purpose directly or indirectly connected with business dealings with the possessor of the land.
Licensee By Invitation A social guest.
Uninvited Licensee A person who chooses to come upon the premises solely for his or her own convenience without invitation either expressed or reasonably implied under the circumstances. To refrain from willful or wanton injury. (e.g.,
No hidden traps) No duty to guard against third party crimes.
Trespasser A person who enters the premises without license, invitation, or other right, and intrudes for some definite purpose of his own, or at his own convenience, or merely as an idler with no apparent purpose, other than perhaps to satisfy his or her curiosity.

Landlords in Florida Owe Specific Duties

A landlord usually has the duty to use reasonable care in interactions with others. What is “reasonable” is determined by the specific facts surrounding the interactions. The rules governing premises liability claims and determining (or at least influencing) what is and isn’t “reasonable” behavior can often be complicated.  It is important, then, to have an experienced attorney assist you with analyzing your claim and help determine if your case is meritorious.

Premises liability cases often include showing one or more of the following hypotheticals:

  • The property owner failed to properly maintain their property or they positively created an unsafe condition(s) that contributed to the injury.
  • The property owner knew an unsafe condition existed on their property, and yet they did not inform their visitors of said unsafe condition.
  • The property owner did not exercise sufficient care in overseeing unsafe or dangerous conditions that could potentially attract children (the “attractive nuisance” doctrine).
  • The property owner acted, or failed to act, in ways causing damage to other properties.

Can We Help With Your Premises Liability Claim?

At Normand Law PLLC, our attorneys have successfully litigated premises liability cases for over two decades and, in doing so, we have recovered millions of dollars for our clients, sometimes by procuring an advantageous settlement and sometimes by winning at trial.  We would love to analyze whether your potential claim is meritorious, and if we can help achieve a successful result for you.

If you believe you’ve suffered an injury due to a property owner’s negligence in Florida, feel free to contact us here.  We work on a contingency fee basis, and our consultations are always free.

Ed Normand - Premises Liability