Any person or company that owns or is responsible for maintaining land or property must guarantee that guests can safely visit (within reason). This applies to private residences and property when the owner invites guests onto the property. If guests have an accident due to an unsafe condition on the property, the owner may be liable to pay compensation for damages.
Types of Guests
In Florida, visitors to a property are given one of three legal classifications: invitees, licensees, or trespassers. Under Florida law, property owners owe invitees the highest duty of care. A property owner has to specifically invite this classification of guest onto the property, usually for business purposes. Hence, the owner should know exactly when and where the invitees are and be able to keep them safe on the property by warning them of dangers or ensuring there are none.
Licensees are guests to property that the owner does not need to specifically invite every time that they want to come onto the property. Examples of licensees include family and friends of the owner. The law holds property owners to a slightly lower duty of care for licensees than invitees because the owner may not always know when or where they will be on the property.
Trespassers are due the least duty of care according to Florida law, but they are accorded some. For property owners to fulfill their duty of care toward trespassers, they simply must not intentionally create dangerous situations. The owner has no duty to warn trespassers of dangers, but he or she cannot set traps for them.
Part of a property owner’s duty of care is to provide adequate security for their guests. If a person is assaulted in some manner while on the property and the owner does not have adequate security in place to prevent it, the injured party may be able to file a claim against the owner for failing to meet his or her duty of care.
Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents
The legal term “slip, trip, and fall accidents” actually refers to two types of accidents, not one. These are “slip and fall” and “trip and fall” accidents. The two are closely related, but they have different causes. Slip and fall accidents are caused by wet, oily, or greasy floors (or floors made similarly unsafe). Trip and fall accidents are caused by a structural issue, such as a broken or missing stair or uneven floor tiles.
Both of these types of accidents can result in the same injuries. Injuries from falling may include spinal damage, head injuries, back injuries, or fractured hips. Some of these injuries may be severe enough to be fatal, especially in elderly people or children.
Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents in Florida
Florida has its own set of laws governing how long a person has to file a claim, how damages are handled if the claimant (the person filing the claim) is partly at fault, and more. Generally speaking, Florida residents have four years to file a slip, trip, and fall lawsuit, starting on the day of the accident.
In cases where the claimant is partly at fault for an accident and injury, Florida has a “pure comparative fault” rule. This means that the jury or an insurance adjuster can decide what percent of the fault rests on the claimant and reduce the amount of compensation paid by the defendant by that amount. Say a claimant was awarded $10,000 in damages but was found to be 20% at fault for the accident. The amount the defendant would have to pay would be reduced by 20%, meaning $8,000 instead of $10,000.
Any people who have suffered a slip and fall or trip and fall accident on private property and wish to discuss their legal options with an attorney should call the SteinLaw offices at 786.766.8701. We review cases for potential clients for free to determine their legal options.