The concept of premises liability holds that the owner of property or a business on the property can possibly be held liable for the injuries sustained by anyone who visits, depending on the circumstances. This is especially true in public places like shops or restaurants, where the common slip-and-fall accident can happen, and often does. If you are injured in this type of accident, it is important that you understand your potential options so that your chances to recover your costs is higher.
Florida’s premises liability law is fairly straightforward. A landowner or business owner owes a duty to exercise reasonable care toward anyone who might enter onto that land or into that business. However, that duty varies based on the status of the person who has been injured. Case law in Florida differentiates three separate classes of visitors, with the duty of care being different for each:
- Invitees, sometimes divided into business and public invitees. Invitees of both types are offered the highest possible protection, and required to receive the highest degree of care – landowners must make their property safe, if possible, for invitees, and if it is not possible, they must warn of any potentially dangerous conditions. Customers in most retail establishments are classified as business invitees.
- Licensees are not owed any particularly noteworthy duty of care from a landowner, only the requirement that they not “willfully or wantonly” harm the licensee, or set any kind of malicious trap for them.
- Trespassers are a fairly self-explanatory class; no duty is owed to them other than refraining from maliciously injuring them.
The Burden Of Proof Is High
There are many different hazards that can lead to a slip and fall accident; anything from wet or wrinkled carpets to potholes to poorly maintained stairs, and you may be able to recover for several different causes of action. Medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and reduced earning capacity are some of the most commonly seen claims; in some cases, punitive damages may even be obtainable if it can be proven that a business or landowner has acted in a grossly negligent manner.
In Florida, however, it is important to keep in mind that instead of the common law, there is statutory law governing premises liability in businesses, which can make the plaintiff’s case much more difficult to prove. The statute holds that if someone slips on a “transitory foreign substance” in a business establishment, they must prove that the business had “actual or constructive knowledge” of the dangerous condition. This can be, as one might imagine, very difficult to establish for a customer who might only have been in the business establishment for mere minutes. However, it is not impossible to prevail on these types of claims.
Contact A Tampa Slip & Fall Attorney
Slip and fall accidents can be very serious in terms of medical and financial costs. If you have been unfortunate enough to experience one, it is important to call an experienced Tampa premises liability attorney to help guide you through the process of filing suit. The Rinaldo Law Group is well versed in this type of case, and is happy to fight for you. Contact our office today for a free consultation.