Do I Have A Case For Premises Liability?
Most of the time, when someone is injured at home, they only have themselves to blame. However, being on someone else’s premises – whether a private home, a commercial business, or somewhere in between – is a different matter. If you are injured in an accident on someone else’s premises, there is a much higher chance that the accident occurred because of another person’s negligence or reckless behavior. It can be difficult to determine whether or not you have a case, but an experienced attorney can assist in getting your questions answered.
Status Determines Duty Of Care
Perhaps the first thing you need to be aware of as you learn about premises liability law is that your status makes an enormous difference as to whether you may prevail at trial. Florida recognizes three types of visitors, each of which are entitled to a different level of care from the property owner. They are:
- An invitee is entitled to the highest level of care from a business or property owner; the owner must attempt to eliminate any dangers and clearly warn of those they cannot fix. There are two different types of invitees – a public invitee is someone invited onto the land for the purpose that the land is held open to the public (for example, a museum guest in a public museum), while a business invitee is invited to come onto the land for indirect or direct business purposes of the property owner;
- A licensee comes in two types: either as someone who comes onto property solely for reasons of their own, without any invitation from the owner or possessor, or as a social guest there at the owner’s convenience. The status can transform, so to speak – for example, one of the most common examples of a licensee is a business customer (ordinarily an invitee) who then enters an Employees Only zone, where they have no invitation to be present. A licensee must be warned of dangers that are not open or obvious, and the property owner must not intentionally injure or endanger the licensee; and
- A trespasser, as one might imagine, is present on property without permission, for some purpose of their own. They are owed only the duty to refrain from willfully injuring them, but if they are discovered, the property owner has a duty to warn of any dangers that are not immediately obvious.
Invitees are more likely to prevail on premises liability claims, but it is not impossible to do so if you had another status at the time of your injury.
Slip-and-Fall Accidents Are Exceptions
If you do not believe that your status will be a barrier to filing suit, the next important thing to investigate is whether or not your accident falls under certain exceptions to standard premises liability law. The most common exceptional case one sees is the so-called ‘slip-and-fall’ accident, particularly those cases where the accident occurs in someone’s business establishment. Under standard premises liability law, most business customers are qualified as invitees, which means that they must be warned about any dangers that are not open and obvious, and the business owner must take steps to fix any potential issues that are within their purview to fix.
That said, Florida’s legislature passed a law some years past which shields many businesses from liability for slip-and-fall accidents. The statute holds that if someone slips and falls on a “transitory foreign substance” in a business establishment, it is their responsibility to establish that the business had “actual or constructive knowledge” of the substance. In other words, the injured person must show that the business either knew or should have known that the hazardous substance was on their floor – which is an extremely tall order for most injured people, particularly since the average customer may have only been present in the business for mere minutes before slipping.
Call A Tampa Premises Liability Attorney
If your case is not exceptional and your status will not be a barrier to recovery, you may have a good case to bring to trial under a theory of premises liability. Contacting a Tampa premises liability attorney can be a good first step to helping you decide whether or not to file suit. The Rinaldo Law Group has experience in these cases and is happy to offer dedicated and knowledgeable representation at what can be a scary time for you and yours. Call our offices at (813) 831-9999 for a free consultation.