Premises Liability

Grocery stores and premises liability claims

March 29, 2023

A routine visit to the grocery store could result in an unexpected mishap. When a Florida customer or employee slips and falls in a grocery store, the accident victim might have a personal injury claim under premises liability statutes. Those claims could seek compensation for medical bills and other losses inflicted because of the fall.

Slips, falls and harm

People could slip and fall in a grocery store for many reasons. Anyone stepping on a slick surface may fall if someone drops food on the floor or spills something. The same might happen if a worker recently mopped the floor. If the store’s employees or management did not take steps to clean the mess or put up warnings that the floor may be slippery, the business could be liable for the harm inflicted.

The same could be true if workers carelessly put boxes of food and other items in an aisle. Those who leave things on the floor out of forgetfulness may be considered negligent. Negligence is the core element of any personal injury and premises liability lawsuit.

Premises liability basics

Business owners and their employees have a duty to care for persons on their property. They must not only make the interior of their establishments safe, but they must also address hazards outside. The exterior includes the parking lot and sidewalk. Not fixing damaged asphalt or concrete could be negligent. Other examples of negligence may include not fixing broken steps or not properly illuminating interior and exterior areas that suffer from limited light.

When someone suffers an injury at a grocery store because of negligence, they may file a claim against the liable party. Grocery stores may carry sufficient commercial liability insurance to cover the claim. However, some claims may need to go to trial if the insurance company makes a lowball offer.

How to protect your business from slip and fall injuries

December 23, 2022

Protect your business in South Florida by following a few simple steps. Your business may be liable if an employee or customer loses their balance and falls because of your negligence. Slippery or wet floors can cause a person to slip and fall. As a responsible business owner, put up a warning sign indicating that the floor is wet. For instance, display a “wet floor” sign after an employee finishes mopping the area.

Keep a watchful eye over the workplace

Maintain the premises outdoors. Ensure that sidewalks do not have any uneven cracks that could cause a slip and fall injury. Plow your parking lot and use salt in the winter to keep it free from slippery ice. Use anti-slip floor mats indoors and outdoors to ensure safety in the workplace.

Neatness results in fewer accidents

Train employees to keep boxes, crates, and tools away from common walking areas. Designate specific locations to store ladders and other types of equipment.

Make sure employees and customers can see where they are walking

Working in a dark room or walking in an unlit hallway can easily lead to an unanticipated fall. Check for burnt-out bulbs frequently. Change bulbs as soon as they burn out. Keep hallways and stairways well-lit to prevent accidents.

Provide headphones to protect against excessive noise

Sudden, loud noises can lead to unexpected trips and falls. Provide headphones so employees can protect their hearing and prevent injuries.

Prevention is the best way to prevent a slip and fall injury

Preventing unwanted falls at work is the best way to avoid a liability suit against your business. Follow all safety protocols to ensure that your workplace is a safe environment.

Who is liable when the dog bites?

December 9, 2022

Florida law makes dog owners liable if their pet bites someone in public. Liability also rests with the owner if the victim was on private property and it was within the law for them to be there. This is still the case even if the bite took place on the dog owner’s property. The dog’s owner is then liable for any damages that the victim has suffered from the bite or bites.

Did the victim’s negligence cause the bite?

Under this law, it doesn’t matter how vicious the dog’s behavior had previously been. It also makes no difference if the person who was bitten was aware of how dangerous the dog was.

If the victim of the bite displayed negligence, this might have an impact on how liable the dog’s owner is. Experts break down an approximate percentage of how much the victim’s negligence played into them getting bitten. What’s left over is the portion that the owner is liable for.

A person can find themselves lawfully on the private property of a dog’s owner for a variety of reasons. One common example is when they are on the property performing their jobs, such as public utilities and post office workers.

Someone is also legally on the dog owner’s property if the person was invited to be there. Such an invitation can be implied or expressed directly.

Did the dog owner have a sign clearly posted?

The dog’s owner is generally freed from premises liability if they have a sign that says “Bad Dog.” This sign must be somewhere that’s clearly visible with lettering that is easy to read.

However, a sign is not enough to remove liability from the dog owner if the victim of the dog bite was under six years old. This is also the case if the owner’s negligence or omission proximately led to the incident.

Are property owners liable for a trespasser’s injuries?

June 17, 2022

Property owners in Florida are required to keep their premises in safe conditions for visitors. However, it’s important to know what can happen if a trespasser enters the property and suffers an injury.

Who is considered a trespasser?

A trespasser is any person who willfully enters a property without permission or an invitation to be there. If the property owner sees such a person and tells them to leave, the trespasser might refuse. This is considered against the law as they have no authority to be on the property. Trespassing is a misdemeanor offense if the person isn’t armed. However, if they are armed, the crime is considered a third-degree felony.

What happens if a trespasser is injured on your property?

According to Florida law, if a trespasser enters your property while under the influence and suffers a personal injury, you are not liable for their injuries. You can only be held liable if the trespasser had a reasonable belief that they were welcome on your property.

At the same time, there are instances when you might be liable for injuries or death sustained by a trespasser on your property. If the injuries or death were caused by an intentional act or gross negligence, Florida law allows property owners to be held liable.

If a trespasser enters your property and you become aware of that fact, premises liability law obligates you to issue warnings to them of potentially dangerous conditions. If you fail to warn the trespasser, you could be considered responsible if they end up injured or dead.

Florida also has stand your ground laws, which allow a property owner to protect their premises against a trespasser. When force is used in this way, it can complicate the case. Knowing your rights in any given situation is important.

Property owners have the right to protect their property. Depending on the situation, you may or may not be liable for a trespasser’s injuries.

How can you stay safe at a water park?

May 19, 2022

Water parks are fun places for Florida residents to visit during the summer. However, it’s important to stay safe while you’re there and follow a few simple tips.

Watch your children

Watch your kids at all times. Children between the ages of 1 and 4 are more likely to drown while at a water park. Even if they know how to swim and there are lifeguards around, things can happen and lifeguards might not watch swimmers as closely as they should. Keep an eye on your kids and stay on alert in case they need help.

Wear life vests

Water parks are filled with many different fun water rides and attractions. As a result, it’s important for your and your kids to wear life vests at all times. You should still continue supervising children at all times when they play in the water.

Be careful when walking

Running around poolside areas can be dangerous. It’s common to experience a slip and fall accident that can lead to injuries as the area is wet. However, it’s possible to have an accident around the poolside and even in other areas because of wet, slippery conditions. If you’re walking and suddenly slip, you might have cause for a premises liability lawsuit.

Avoid becoming dehydrated

You can avoid dehydration and sun poisoning by staying well-hydrated throughout the day and wearing sunscreen. Use a waterproof sunscreen with SPF 15 and reapply it every two to three hours. Stay out of direct sunlight if possible and wear a hat when you’re planning to be at the water park for hours.

Follow the rules

Water parks have rules. You should follow them to stay safe. Some rides are inappropriate for very young children, so know which rides your kids are permitted to enjoy.

Filing a suit against your contractor for negligence

March 23, 2022

A contractor may cause damage to your property or act recklessly to contribute to an accident. Your only beneficial action may be to file a civil suit against a worker who you had previously employed. Understand the extent of a worker’s liability in South Florida and the damages that you are entitled to.

Suing for negligence

Property owners or managers can file legal claims against contractors if they suffer from injuries due to onsite accidents, which must have been caused by the contractor’s negligence, malfeasance or misfeasance.

When taking action against a contractor, the consumer is legally entitled to sue for three times the monetary damages that he or she lost. The plaintiff must prove that the contractor was not certified or licensed in the state where he or she was working.

Preparing your case

It is possible for defendants to win lawsuits involving premises liability. A contractor can present a release or covenant not to sue agreement, which means that he or she will not be liable for any property damage, personal injury or wrongful death that occurs on another person’s property.

Also, the court is responsible for determining the precise amount of damages that the plaintiff is entitled to based on the facts and circumstances. Plaintiffs are advised to provide as much relevant documented evidence as necessary to prove their case.

Take advantage of your legal options

Even in the safest conditions, accidents happen due to contractors’ negligence. Anyone who causes a personal injury to another person can be sued and may be fined, imprisoned or both. However, the court has to determine the extent of liability that the contractor faces.

Hotel accidents and premises liability claims

February 8, 2022

Someone who checks into a hotel during a vacation or business trip likely wishes to have an enjoyable time. Unfortunately, some Florida hotel stays turn into regrettable events when a guest suffers an injury. A slip-and-fall accident or another mishap might result from the hotel’s negligence, which may open legal doors for a personal injury lawsuit.

Premises liabilities and hotel accidents

Legally, property owners and managers may have a duty to care for those legally present on the premises. A hotel guest might reasonably expect that the hotel’s management took steps to repair or otherwise address problems that could cause harm.

When a hotel’s staff doesn’t fix a broken section of pavement or replace a loose stairway banister, the hotel may be responsible for injuries. If someone spills something and the staff doesn’t take action to clean it or post signs warning about wet floors, the hotel could be liable.

Ultimately, the hotel’s owners, management, and/or staff must be negligent in some way. If someone trips and falls because they were highly intoxicated, proving the hotel was liable might be challenging. When an intoxicated person trips over an object on the lobby’s floor, questions may arise about partial liability. Legal questions might vary from case to case.

Taking legal action and proving negligence

Premises liability claims will typically focus on issues related to duty of care, breaching that duty, the accident’s cause, and any injuries or harm suffered. “Harm” may involve property damage and not only physical injuries.

A commercial enterprise such as a hotel likely carries liability insurance. Even the most well-managed hotel may find its employees make unfortunate derelictions of duty, leading to a guest’s injuries. Victims might find an insurance claim is an appropriate way to procure compensation.

Jared K. Newman Esq. is the Managing Partner of the Personal Injury division at South Florida Law, PLLC. Mr. Newman is an experienced civil litigation attorney who has dedicated his practice to representing those injured while driving, walking, at work or elsewhere due to the negligence of others. He is an experienced advocate for his clients against insurance companies that refuse to pay fair and just compensation for the injuries caused by their insureds. His expertise in litigation rounds out the capabilities that form the personal injury practice area of the firm. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, he received his bachelor’s degree in Criminology from the University of Florida and his Juris Doctorate from South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas. Mr. Newman has been a member of the Florida Bar since 2010.