Premises Liability Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale
When an unsafe condition exists on someone’s property and that hazard results in an injury, the property owner could be liable for the costs associated with those injuries. These types of cases are called premises liability and are considered personal injury negligence lawsuits.
There are several issues that come into play in premises liability lawsuits, including the type of status a visitor had at the time the injury occurred, as well as the duty of care the property owner owed to that visitor.
It is essential for a lawyer to evaluate the circumstances following an injury on someone’s property before filing a potential claim for compensation. A premises liability lawyer in Fort Lauderdale can help. Understanding the issues concerning premises liability is what we do best here at Schlacter Law. Our job is to get you the most compensation we can, and we will work hard to ensure that you are made whole again.
Examples of Premises liability in Fort Lauderdale
Premises liability cases would include situations where someone was injured on someone else’s property and an injury occurred. Some examples might include:
- Slip and falls
- Defective conditions
- Broken pavement
- Inadequate icing after a snowstorm
- Broken stairs
- Broken handrails
- Improperly functioning elevators and escalators
- Accidents in swimming pools
- Wet floors
- Poorly lit conditions
- Animal attacks
- Sidewalk falls
When these types of accidents occur, it is necessary to prove that the property owner had a responsibility to keep their property clear of these hazards, and the injury occurred by their failure to do so.
There are countless examples of situations that might fall under a premises liability lawsuit in Fort Lauderdale. Evaluating a claim for the required elements under the law takes a lawyer with this type of experience. The premises injury lawyers with Schlacter law have the know-how to understand the issues, sort through the facts, and ensure that you get as much compensation as is available under the law.
The Legal Status of a Visitor in Premises Liability Cases
A successful premises liability lawsuit needs to establish the legal status of a visitor when the injury occurred. Property owners owe different duties of care depending on how a visitor is classified. For premises liability lawsuits, there are three essential types of visitor classifications:
There are two distinct classifications of invitees: a public invitee and a business invitee. A public invitee is someone on someone’s property that is open to the public and is there for the intended use of that property. An example might be someone visiting a public park to use its recreational facilities. But it might exclude someone visiting a park for the purpose of committing a crime since their purpose for being there is not what the public invitation was intended to allow.
A business invitee is someone who was invited onto a business property to conduct business there. This might exclude someone who cuts across a business property as a short cut, with no intention of conducting business with the property owner. But it might include someone entering a store, restaurant, hotel, or any other premises, for the purpose for which it was intended to be used.
Licensees are individuals who are invited onto the premises by the premises’ owner but with no intent to do business there, but rather, entered the premises to benefit themselves. A guest at a party might be considered a licensee since their presence on the premises is not for business matters, and there was no direct benefit to the property owner.
The third legal status is that of a trespasser. A trespasser is someone who enters the premises without permission or any legal right to be there, and whose benefit is only for the trespasser. An example of a trespasser is a burglar, who enters the property without permission, with the intent to steal something from the property owner.
The classification distinctions between visitors is an essential factor in determining the duty the premises owner owed to that visitor when they were injured. Oftentimes this classification is difficult to determine. Without establishing the duty of care owed to an injury victim, it is difficult to properly place liability in a lawsuit.
This is where a Fort Lauderdale premises liability attorney can help. A premises liability lawyer has experience looking at these types of cases and the understanding required to interpret the facts. When an injury occurs on someone’s property, a premises liability law firm, such as Schlacter Law, can help ensure that liability is properly established, and compensation is recovered.
The Duty of Care owed to a Visitor in Fort Lauderdale
After establishing the classification of a visitor on a property, it is essential to determine what duty of care was owed to that visitor at the time of the injury. Each class of visitor is owed a different duty of care.
An invitee on a property is owed the highest duty of care. Florida defines this duty of care in Post v. Lunney, 261 So. 2d 146, 147 (Fla. 1972), and found that “the owner or operator of the property must maintain it in a reasonably safe condition and correct or warn of dangers that the defendant knew or should have known of, and which the plaintiff did not or should not have known of by the use of reasonable care.”
A licensee is owed a lesser duty of care than an invitee. Florida defines this duty of care in Stewart v. Texas Co., 67 So. 2d 653, 654 (Fla. 1953), and found that “the operator of the establishment owed no duty except not intentionally to expose her to danger,” and that “active vigilance is not required on the part of the property owner to see that his premises are kept safe for the benefit of licensees.”
Trespassers are owed the smallest duty of care. Florida Statutes, §768.075, provides immunity from liability to a trespasser who is injured on real property. When a trespasser is injured on the premises, the property owner “shall not be held liable for any civil damages for death of or injury or damage to a trespasser upon the property” when the trespasser is under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances. However, a premises owner may be liable if they commit “gross negligence or intentional misconduct.”
There is an additional exception to immunity from liability when a trespasser enters the premises and is injured by an attractive nuisance. These questions concerning what duty is owed to someone on the property of another is essential when evaluating a claim for premises liability. When injuries occur on a property, discussing these issues with a premises liability lawyer can help in evaluating if there is sufficient evidence to file a claim.
Attractive Nuisance in Premises Liability
While trespassers are typically owed a duty to refrain from negligence or intentional misconduct by the premises owner, there is an important exception in cases where there is an attractive nuisance on the property. An attractive nuisance is anything that might attract a young child to the property. Even though that child may not have permission to be on the property, it is expected that a property owner prevents these nuisances from attracting minors, and thus causing injuries to them.
Florida Statutes, §823.08, defines what might be considered a public nuisance, and includes:
- Deep-freeze lockers
- Clothes washers
- Clothes dryers
- Similar airtight units abandoned or discarded
Additionally, swimming pools and trampolines have also fit under the attractive nuisance doctrine. When an attractive nuisance exists on the premises, the property owner has a duty to take reasonable steps to fix or warn anyone on their property of the danger. This might include installing a perimeter fence around a pool or putting up signs warning of the danger. Failing to take these precautions might result in liability, even in cases where the injured party was a trespasser.
The attractive nuisance doctrine is an integral part of the premises liability doctrine, and care should be taken by a property owner to protect trespassers from dangers that exist there. If you have questions concerning a hazard on your property, an experienced premises liability lawyer in Fort Lauderdale has the answers. Call today for a consultation.
What is necessary to file a premises liability lawsuit in Fort Lauderdale?
A premises liability lawsuit is a type of action under personal injury law. To prove that someone was injured by another party it is essential for a premises liability lawyer to prove that the defendant was negligent in some way. Negligence is when a party fails to use proper care when they had a duty to do so.
Negligence is a complex part of the law. To establish in court that a party was negligent, there are four essential elements a lawyer must prove, and Florida case law requires that all four elements be present to successfully win a lawsuit. These elements are:
- The defendant had some sort of duty owed to the plaintiff
- The defendant breached the duty owed to the plaintiff
- The defendant was the cause of the injury that the plaintiff suffered
- The defendant suffered a loss due to the defendant’s actions
Florida is one of several states that follow comparative negligence. Comparative negligence allows a successful judgment to be reduced in cases where the plaintiff contributed to the injury. Florida Statutes, §768.81(3), apportions damages in negligence actions “on the basis of such party’s percentage of fault and not on the basis of the doctrine of joint and several liability.”
In order to win a successful claim for negligence, an attorney in Fort Lauderdale must file a claim on a plaintiff’s behalf within a certain time period following the injury, or the case may be dismissed. This time period for filing a lawsuit is called the statute of limitations, and for personal injury negligence cases a claim must be filed in court within four years of the injury.
Issues of negligence and statutes of limitations can be difficult to determine. When the facts are complicated, the help of an experienced premises liability lawyer in Fort Lauderdale may be necessary. With the know-how to determine the facts in each case, a premises liability lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve following an injury.
What kind of compensation is available in a premises liability claim?
There are several different ways a plaintiff would receive compensation in Fort Lauderdale following a claim in a premises liability case. The two primary forms of compensation are economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are costs associated with an injury that are generally easy to calculate and are more specific and measurable in their nature. This might include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future income
- Property damaged during the accident
- Future medical expenses
Economic damages are generally uncapped in Florida for personal injury cases and therefore all costs as a result of the injury may be compensable. It is important to keep any bills, records or receipts following an injury to use as proof of the economic costs that resulted from the defendant’s negligence. These records would be used by a premises liability lawyer and are essential in receiving accurate compensated.
Non-economic damages are far more subjective than economic damages and are usually more difficult to assign a dollar value. Non-economic damages include things such as:
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
These types of damages are not easily calculated and would require a knowledgeable premises liability lawyer’s assistance in understanding the long-term consequences of an injury. In Florida, several factors are taken into consideration when measuring the cost of non-economic damages. This might include how severe the injury was, how ongoing it is, any pre-existing conditions that played a role in the injury and how old the plaintiff was at the time the injury occurred.
The third type of damages in Fort Lauderdale includes punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded when a negligent party acted maliciously or recklessly, with little regard to the consequences of their actions. When punitive damages are awarded, they are generally done so to punish a defendant for their behavior in an attempt to prevent the defendant from repeating the behavior.
Calculating the dollar amount attributed to an injury in Fort Lauderdale is a complex calculation. From known costs to unknown long-term care, it is important to take into consideration every aspect of an injury. A premises liability lawyer understands that these calculations are important in getting the correct amount of compensation. Consulting a premises liability lawyer is the first step in evaluating the true costs associated with a premises liability injury.
Schlacter Law Can Help
When an unsafe condition exists on someone’s property, it is the duty of the property owner to protect visitors from any injuries. Failing to do so can result in liability and the owner may be responsible to compensate a plaintiff for any resulting injuries. If you were injured on someone’s property, you may have a valid premises liability claim. Contact a Schlacter Law premises liability attorney today for an evaluation. We can help determine if you have a valid claim and how much compensation may be available to you. Call today.
How We Handle Cases
- Your attorney will aggressively investigate your case. Schlacter Law will compile all necessary evidence needed to maximize the value of your case. Which includes but is not limited to photographs, police reports, security camera footage, witness statements, medical bills and medical records.
- You will remain in constant contact with Schlacter Law about the progression of your case.
- Your attorney will present your case to the insurance company and will attempt to resolve your case before the case goes to court for maximum compensation.
- Your attorney will make every effort possible to resolve the case as quickly as possible for the most amount of money you may be entitled to. You will be actively involved in the negotiation process with your attorney. Schlacter Law understands that this is your one opportunity to get justice for your loss.
- If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, Schlacter Law will be fully prepared to bring your case to court to fight for the justice you deserve.
- At no cost to you, Schlacter Law will hire any experts and professionals needed to maximize your recovery and present your case in the strongest form possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have an unlimited amount of time to file a lawsuit?
Florida limits the amount of time available to file a lawsuit for a personal injury negligence lawsuit. This legal doctrine is called the statute of limitations, and for these types of negligence cases, a lawsuit must be filed within four years from the time the injury occurred. If a claimant fails to file a lawsuit within this time period a case might be dismissed and the plaintiff would be unable to receive compensation. Talk with a Fort Lauderdale attorney today to ensure that all deadlines are met.
How much do I have to pay for an attorney?
Personal injury lawyers are typically paid through a contingency fee. This payment method would pay a lawyer only if they are successful in receiving compensation for their client. Normally, the lawyer would get between 33.33% and 40% of any settlement or award the attorney secures for their client. This payment method makes it easier for a plaintiff to file a claim since they wouldn’t need to pay the attorney any money up front. Consult Schlacter law today to see if we can assist you.
What if I was injured on government property?
Rules governing municipal and governmental properties may vary. It is important to discuss these issues with a Fort Lauderdale attorney to help determine if compensation is available. Call today.