Florida Premises Liability Laws
Premises Liability Lawyers in Fort Myers
Florida premises liability is the area of law that protects people who’ve been injured because of a dangerous condition on someone else’s property. Innocent people suffer unfair injuries every day in Florida, often while simply going about their daily duties — shopping for groceries, going for a jog, visiting a friend, etc.
We all expect the world we live in to be a reasonably safe place and we must all do our part to keep it that way. The law requires property owners to maintain safe conditions and to address any dangerous hazards in order to keep the public free from harm. When they fail to do so, victims can seek compensation for their injuries and any reasonably related damages.
How do you know whether an injury was the property owner’s fault, though? What amounts to a dangerous condition? When does the owner have to pay? And why are slip and fall cases often harder to pursue to than other types of personal injury cases?
The outcome of any premises liability case is always very fact-dependent. In other words, the specific facts and circumstances surrounding your injury will dictate how the law applies. That said, we can look to a few guidelines to get a general understanding of the Florida premises liability laws and the rights they grant you.
Consider the information below, but please don’t make any decisions about whether to act on your claim without talking to our Fort Myers premises liability lawyers first. We offer free consultations to answer any questions you may have.
Under Florida premises liability laws, a property owner’s duty is generally determined by the type of property involved.
Determining Where a Slip and Fall Occurred: Business Location
The majority of premises liability lawsuits in Florida involve a business or some other commercial property, like retailers, malls, hotels, etc.)
Businesses that open their doors to the public are required to keep their properties in a safe condition. That means conducting routine inspections, performing necessary maintenance, and addressing any hazards that might endanger patrons.
Notably, businesses owners are responsible not only for dangers they actually know about but also dangers they should have known about.
The commercial properties that appear in premises liability lawsuits most often include:
- Retail stores
- Grocery stores
- Nightclubs and bars
- Sports arenas and stadiums
- Entertainment complexes
- Movie theaters
- Gyms and spas
- Health, fitness, and beauty centers
- Office buildings
- Hotels, motels, and other lodgings
- Private schools
- Parking lots and garages
- Landlords (apartments, condos, rental homes, etc.)
Determining Where a Slip and Fall Occurred: Private Property
Generally speaking, landlords have even stricter duties. Not only are they responsible for the Florida premises liability laws but they must also abide by your lease terms and any applicable state and federal landlord-lessee laws.
Tenants have expansive rights under Florida state law. Landlords must maintain safe and habitable premises for the people who abide in their dwellings. Your landlord is generally responsible for your unit’s safety, security, and sanitation. That is true for apartment complexes, many rental condominiums, rental homes, and other kinds of leased property.
As with businesses owners, landlords are generally responsible for the hazards they either knew or should have known about. Their duties apply to common areas, the exterior, and (to a considerable extent) the interior of your home.
Landlords may also be liable for injuries or illnesses suffered by your guests in relation to unsafe premises.
The most common hazards giving rise to a lawsuit under the Florida premises liability laws include:
- Fire hazards
- Slippery surfaces
- Construction hazards
- Dim lighting in common areas
- Inadequate security (defective cameras, broken door locks, negligent security personnel, low lighting, etc.)
- Failure to respond to recent safety incidents or tenant complaints related to the injury
- Exposed wiring
- Holes in flooring
- Mold / Toxic exposure
- Broken stairways, handrails, etc.
- Elevator maintenance problems
There is a lot to consider when assessing a landlord’s liability, so if you have been the victim of an illness or injury and believe your landlord’s negligence might be to blame, we urge you to schedule a free consultation with our Fort Myers premises liability lawyers as soon as possible.
Determining Where a Slip and Fall Occurred: Public Property
Slip and Falls Accidents in Parks, Public Buildings, Sidewalks, Municipal Properties, etc.
While the rules are slightly different when municipal or other governmental parties are involved, victims are still generally entitled to financial relief if they slip and fall in a public place.
Federal, state, and local governments are responsible for maintaining safe conditions in the properties they control, including:
- Public transportation
- Municipal properties
- Public parks
- Public schools
What should I do after a slip and fall accident at a business or in public?
After a slip and fall accident, it is important to follow these steps:
- Document the accident as soon as possible. Let the store manager or property owner know about your accident and make sure they fill out an accident report. Be careful not to admit fault here.
- Get a copy of the accident report.
- Get medical attention right away. If your fall causes very serious injuries, like a TBI or spinal cord injury, call 911. Otherwise, make an appointment with your primary care physician or go to an urgent care center. Do not delay this process. Not only does seeking medical attention right away prove the severity of your injuries, it also helps to officially document it with medical records.
- Collect some evidence. Evidence is always helpful when pursuing compensation for a slip and fall injury. Get photographs of the hazardous conditions, photos of your injuries, keep all doctor and hospital records, keep a journal of your conversations, phone calls and appointments, and be sure to track how you injuries have affected your life in your journal.
- Ask your healthcare facilities to provide you a copy of all your records as you go. Unfortunately, even though you are entitled to those records, hospitals make the process more difficult than it needs to be. If you’re having trouble accessing your medical records, our Fort Myers slip and fall attorneys can help.
Contact information for witnesses. Eyewitness testimony is very important. Try to get the full name, address, email address, and telephone number for anyone who saw your accident or who could potentially testify about the dangerous condition that existed in the store.
Keep a journal. Your emotions, experiences, and expenses are all relevant to your accident claim. Keep a journal throughout your recovery and be as detailed as possible.
Set Up a Free Legal Consultation with Our Slip and Fall Attorneys Today
If you have any questions about Florida premises liability laws or whether you might be entitled to compensation, our Fort Myers Slip and Fall Attorneys are more than happy to talk about the specifics of your case. There is no cost and no obligation.
About the Author of this Page: The above information was written or reviewed by one of the attorneys at Viles & Beckman LLC who have a combined experience of nearly 60 years: Marcus Viles, Michael Beckman or Maria Alaimo. The information provided in this article comes from years of experience trying legal cases outside and inside courtrooms throughout Florida along with extensive research.