Can you file a lawsuit if you slip and fall as a trespasser in Florida? Sometimes the term “trespasser” is unclear, but the case Delores Arp v. Waterway East Association Inc., et al. (April 2017) addresses this definition. Usually, a trespasser is thought of as someone who is intentionally entering an area without permission. But, what if you are injured on a property that you did not know you needed permission to enter? These are the circumstances in Delores Arp v. Waterway East Association Inc., et al.
One evening, Ms. Arp and her friend walked to a restaurant in her friend’s neighborhood. On the way home, they used a shortcut through a local condominium association/shopping center that had a small path built out of pavers stones. The path was on an easement owned by the City of Delray Beach to access storm pumps and public utilities. Consequently, Ms. Arp tripped on a cracked pavers stone and suffered injuries from a rolled ankle.
As a result of these injuries, Ms. Arp filed a lawsuit to seek compensation for her slip and fall. Her team argued that, due to the path, she was an invited attendee (the path itself suggested that people should walk on it) and the owners were responsible for neglecting to fix the broken stones on the path that was open to the public.
The defendants argued that Ms. Arp was a trespasser or uninvited attendee so they did not have a duty to maintain the path for her. They argued that their only responsibility was to not intentionally harm her while she was on the premises. Additionally, they said she was not an invitee since she was there late at night so she was not using any of the businesses in the shopping center.
Both the trial court and the appellate court sided with the defendant in this case and agreed that they were not responsible for Ms. Arp’s slip and fall for several reasons. The main one being that she was not an invited attendee on the property. Secondly, they had no way of knowing that she would be walking on the property so they were not responsible for the cracked stone that caused her fall.
If you have recently suffered a slip and fall but are unsure if you were an invited guest on the property, it’s always a smart idea to check with an attorney to see if you have a case. As this case shows, a slip and fall as a trespasser in Florida is not always as clear cut as it may seem. Contact us for advice on what to do if you have been injured in a situation like this.