As a West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer, we see our fair share of scenarios where property owners have been negligent in maintaining a safety. Most slip and fall cases we see result from:
- Broken or uneven sidewalks
- Inadequate outside or inside lighting
- Obstructions on stairways or in aisles
- Spilled water or other slippery conditions on floors
- Debris or other objects in aisles, sidewalks or other passageways
- Broken or missing handrails on stairways
- Uneven steps or defectively built stairways
- Poorly lit entryways or stairwells
- Malfunctioning doors or windows
- Dangerously or negligently displayed merchandise
Generally speaking, property owners have a duty to make sure that their properties are safe for visitors. If a visitor is injured on someone else's property, he or she may seek to have a personal injury lawyer bring a lawsuit against the property owner. The body of law that deals with these types of suits is known as premises liability law.
Premises liability law applies to homeowners, small business owners, property managers, grocery store owners, gym owners, bar and restaurant owners, etc. In most Florida personal injury cases the people or businesses owners who "occupy" a property such as a business or even the landlord can face liability for visitor injury.
In premises liability lawsuits, we attempt to prove that our clients injuries resulted from the property owner's failure to make his or her property safe.
Generally, to succeed in a premises liability case, your Personal injury attorney has to prove that:
1. A property owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition
2. A property owner failed to repair and/or give warning of this dangerous condition
3. The injured client was injured by the dangerous condition
In most circumstances, property owners cannot be held responsible for injuries caused by conditions on their property that they did not know about or had no reason to know about.
Of course when a client enters person's property, they are still required to exercise reasonable care for their own safety.
Property owners owe different duties of care depending on the circumstances under which a person enters their properties.
Generally speaking, visitors fall into one of three categories:
1. Business invitees
Property owners owe the highest level of care to business invitees, who are people who enter a property for business purposes. This includes, those who enter a grocery store, those who stop at a gas station, and even repairmen and other workers who are invited into a person’s home.
For business invitees, property owners must keep the property in a safe condition and must either repair or provide notice of any known dangers on the premises to prevent slip and fall accidents. As part of these duties, the property owner must regularly inspect the property for any dangerous conditions, such as water spills in store aisles or fallen merchandise blocking an entryway. Because of this duty to inspect, property owners may even be found liable for slip and fall injuries that occur as a result of dangers they should know about.
Property owners owe the second highest standard of care to licensees, or social guests. These are friends, family members and others who enter a property for purely social purposes, like a birthday party or anniversary celebration. They also can include those who show up uninvited, like a neighbor or other friend stopping by unexpectedly.
For licensees, property owners must maintain the property in a reasonably safe manner and repair any unsafe conditions. These duties include an obligation to warn of known dangers on the property. If a licensee has failed to maintain their property to prevent harm, you should speak with a slip fall attorney in the event that you or a loved one should be harmed due to negligence.
Although trespassers do not have permission to be on a property, property owners still owe them a limited duty to prevent intentional or reckless injury and slip and fall accidents. For example, a homeowner would face potential civil liability for intentional injury if he set up a trip wire that would automatically set off a gun or other life-threatening instrument against a trespasser.
Once the property owner discovers a trespasser on his or her property, the property owner owes a duty to warn him or her of any known dangers that the trespasser could not detect with ordinary observation.
Special Duty Owed to Children
If you or a loved one should be harmed due to premises liability negligence, contact your West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation.