Premises Liability Lawyer in Hialeah
Premises liability is the body of law that requires property owners to keep their property safe from hazards for anyone who visits their premises. This doctrine applies to both businesses and homeowners, regardless of the size of the property. Under this doctrine, a victim’s lawyer would need to prove that an injury was the result of a failure to remove any hazards or some other defective or unsafe condition.
If you were injured while visiting a business or residential property a premises liability lawyer in Hialeah can help you seek compensation for those injuries. Even if you suspect the property holder was unaware of the dangers, a premises liability lawyer at Schlacter Law can assist in evaluating the legal issues and help determine if compensation is available.
Types of Premises Liability Cases
A premises liability lawsuit is a type of personal injury case that applies when an accident occurred on a property due to a failure to adequately prevent a dangerous condition. Accidents from premises liability cases can occur almost anywhere, including restaurants, hotels, hospitals, grocery stores, parking garages, apartment complexes, office buildings, private residences, sports centers, airports, and more. The property could be private as well as public. When a property owner fails to provide a proper duty of care to protect someone on their property their actions or inactions would be considered negligence.
Numerous situations would create a hazardous condition that would lead to a premises liability lawsuit. Some conditions might include:
- A sidewalk that is uneven or cracked
- Steps that are uneven or built improperly
- An entryway or a set of stairs that are improperly lit
- Objects or debris blocking a passageway, aisle or sidewalk
- A failure to maintain or provide a staircase handrail
- A window or door that functions improperly
- A slippery condition caused by a water spill or other dangerous spillage
Further examples of premises liability cases could include:
- An accident that occurred in a swimming pool
- An accident that occurred in an amusement park
- An injury from a slip and fall
- Failure to remove snow after a storm
- Failure to prevent icy conditions
- An accident that occurred on an escalator or an elevator
- Any type of defective condition on a property
These are just a few examples of cases that might fall under the premises liability body of law. If you suspect that you might have a claim for a premises liability lawsuit, you can contact a premises liability attorney at Schlacter Law for guidance. With years of experience in premises liability, Schlacter Law’s knowledgeable lawyers in Hialeah know what is required to get the best compensation available under your circumstances.
How Lawyers Define Negligence
Negligence is a legal term used to describe someone’s failure to use the proper duty of care to protect someone else from harm. The proper duty of care required to prevent negligence is the same amount of care a normally prudent person would use under similar circumstances. Since a normally prudent individual in one locality may differ from another locality, the level of care required to avoid an act of negligence can vary greatly from one area to another.
To prove that someone acted negligently, negligence law requires that an individual prove, through their lawyer, that four things existed at the time the injury occurred.
- A Duty was owed to the victim – First and foremost, negligence requires a plaintiff to show that the defendant owed some kind of duty. The duty owed to a plaintiff in a premises liability lawsuit will depend on what class of visitor they were at the time of the accident.
- There was a breach of the duty owed to the victim – Following the case United States v. Carroll Towing , Justice Learned Hand created the idea that if the value of harm is greater than the cost of avoiding it, then the defendant was negligent in failing to prevent the harm and breached their duty to the plaintiff.
- The victim suffered an injury – An injury is required to have created either bodily harm, or harm to property. Emotional distress could be considered bodily harm.
- Proof that the breach caused the injury – The more direct an action appears to have resulted in the injury, the more likely it is to be considered sufficient to support the defendant’s liability.
When a premises liability lawyer can prove the four required elements of negligence a plaintiff is awarded compensation for their injuries. Contact a premises liability lawyer at Schlacter law in Hialeah for help in determining if a premises holder’s actions rose to the level of negligence.
How a Hialeah Lawyer Would Classify a Visitor in Premises Liability
Not all visitors on a property are owed the same duty of care in a premises liability case. Courts will look at what classification of visitor the plaintiff was at the time the accident occurred. There are three premises liability classifications relevant to the duty of care owed to a plaintiff:
An invitee is someone who was invited onto a property for their own purpose, and not to necessarily benefit the property owner. For example, a public invitee is a member of the public who enters a property that is open to the general public, such as a park.
A licensee in a premises liability lawsuit is a guest who was invited to the property with the owner’s specific permission and for the purpose of benefiting the property holder in some way. This would include a person who is invited onto a property to do business with the person who owns the land. It might also include a family member, friend, or even a friend of a friend who was asked to visit the property.
Lastly, a trespasser in a premises liability case is someone who enters a property with neither a license nor permission to do so. A trespasser enters the property for their own express purpose, such as a burglar who plans to commit a crime on the property.
The Duty of Care owed in Premises Liability
Once it is determined what type of classification a visitor was at the time of an accident, a lawyer in Hialeah will argue in court that the duty of care owed to that visitor was breached.
A property owner owes the highest duty of care to an invitee on their property. This duty would require the owner to provide reasonable and ordinary care to the invitee. This would require that, to avoid a premises liability lawsuit, the property holder should make known and attempt to prevent an injury from any dangerous condition, known or unknown. An example could be a liquid spill on the floor of a business. Under these conditions, the owner should take precautions to alert any invitee of the hazardous condition by cordoning off the area or indicating that there is a hazard with a sign.
There are two types of licensees – an uninvited licensee and a licensee by invitation. A licensees by invitation is owed the same duty of care owed to an invitee. An uninvited licensee is owed a weaker duty of care than an invitee.Uninvited licensees, are generally only protected from intentional, willful or wanton injury or an overt failure to warn patrons of known dangerous conditions by the landowner. Here, to avoid a premises liability lawsuit, the owner would need to exercise reasonable care of any hazardous conditions that the owner is aware of. If a dangerous condition existed in a storeroom, not normally accessed by the public, and an injury occurs in this space, a court may consider the hazard beyond the duty required of the owner.
A property owner owes no duty to someone who trespasses on their property. The only requirements under a premises liability negligence claim are that the owner refrains from wanton or willful misconduct or create a hazard by recklessly injuring the trespasser. There are exceptions under certain circumstances concerning a trespasser.
Attractive nuisances are one such exemption. Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, hazards such as swimming pools and trampolines require a heightened duty of care to avoid premises liability. Since these hazards could attract children to the property, a Florida property holder should be aware of the dangerous condition on their property and take any steps necessary to warn of the danger. This might include securing a gate around the perimeter of the pool and installing signs that the pool exists and may be dangerous.
How a Lawyer in Hialeah Would Defend a Premises Liability Case
After filing a claim for a premises liability lawsuit a property owner may state that there was a valid reason for failing to correct a hazardous condition. A comm
on defense is that the dangerous condition that led to the accident was “open and obvious”. This doctrine follows the idea that some dangers present themselves so clearly that a visitor would be able to identify them without the need for a warning.
The “open and obvious” defense, however, does not excuse a business or residential owner from exercising reasonable care to protect an invitee from danger. Recent case law has seen premises liability lawyers in Hialeah successfully prove that a hazard that may be deemed obvious has existed for a long enough period of time to require that the owner remedy the hazard. A premises injury lawyer can help determine if the conditions rise to the level to defeat the “open and obvious” defense.
An additional defense used against a premises liability claim is that the visitor to the property “assumed the risks” that existed on the premises when they entered the property. This defense excuses liability on the basis that the plaintiff knew of the danger and entered the premises anyway.
To successfully claim a defense for “assumption of risk”, a lawyer in Hialeah might argue that the plaintiff voluntarily exposed themselves to an obvious danger. It is then the defense’s burden to prove there was an awareness of the risks when the plaintiff entered the property. Lacking any express agreement, a court will look at “assumed risk” as part of a comparative negligence calculation.
Comparative negligence attempts to attribute a portion of the blame on the plaintiff for their actions. Therefore, even if a plaintiff had voluntarily exposed themselves to the danger, recovery for compensation may still be available for the portion of blame attributed to the defendant. These types of calculations are complex. A premises liability lawyer in Hialeah should be consulted for guidance on how to overcome these defenses in court.
Florida’s Premises Liability Statute
In an attempt to eliminate confusion and uncertainty in premises liability cases, Florida chose to enact a statute that specifically addresses premises liability. Florida Statutes §768.0755 provides the relevant law that applies in these cases, specifically “Premises liability for transitory foreign substances in a business establishment.”
Under the statute, if a person slips and falls on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment, “the injured person must prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it.”
Furthermore, constructive knowledge may be proven by circumstantial evidence showing that:
- “The dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have known of the condition; or”
- “The condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.”
Even with the adoption of the statute, however, nothing in the statute will specifically “affect any common-law duty of care owed by a person or entity in possession or control of a business premises”. Therefore, it would still hold that a business owner under Fla. Stat. §768.0755 is required to provide reasonable and ordinary care to protect someone on their premises. A premises liability lawyer in Hialeah can assist in interpreting and applying the appropriate statutes under the circumstances of your case.
Types of Compensation a Lawyer in Hialeah can Argue for in Premises Liability Cases
As a part of personal injury law, the type of compensation available under a premises liability lawsuit varies. However, there are two general types of compensation in these types of cases. The first type is economic damages, and the second type is non-economic damages.
Economic damages are the types of damage that are easy to calculate, including things such as:
- Medical bills
- Long term medical care
- Damage to property
- Loss of income
- Any economic loss due to the accident
Normally a plaintiff would be required to pay for these costs and hope that a lawsuit would succeed in recovering enough compensation to make them whole. To prepare for a possible lawsuit, a plaintiff should keep any records of costs associated with the accident. Receipts, medical bills, and charges add up, and having a definitive number available can give a lawyer in Hialeah a better idea of how much the accident cost out of pocket, and how much compensation to seek in a lawsuit.
Non-economic damages are harder to calculate since a dollar value is not immediately apparent. Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Physical impairment
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
It is far more difficult to put a dollar value on how much something like emotional stress costs a plaintiff. As such, a court or jury would need to determine the severity of the accident. In some instances, a dollar amount might be determined by multiplying known economic damages by a number, such as three. The result would be that non-economic damages would reward three times as much money as economic damages. This number would vary from case to case, and based on a calculation your lawyer deems most appropriate.
Lastly, the amount of compensation available may be reduced based on how much the plaintiff may have contributed to the injuries they suffered. Revisiting comparative negligence, Florida is one of several states that follow this rule. In a premises liability case, the defendant may argue that compensation should be reduced if the plaintiff knew, or should have known of the danger before the injury.
Calculating compensation in a premises liability case is not always straightforward. Some injuries do not present themselves until months, or even years after the accident, thus making it hard to determine the necessary long-term care required. Additionally, pain and suffering may come and go over time. A premises liability law firm such as Schlacter law has been helping clients fight for the best compensation available. Call our law firm today to find out how a premises liability lawyer in Hialeah can assist you.
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
In most cases, landowners are not required to take precautions to avoid harm to a trespasser. However, landowners must not intentionally harm someone who enters their property without permission. There is an exception for attractive nuisances, particularly when a nuisance might attract a child. Under certain circumstances the landowner would still be liable for injuries to a trespasser.
Swimming pools are the most common attractive nuisances in Florida since they are common in the state and tend to attract children. However, attractive nuisances are not limited to swimming pools. Other nuisances might include trampolines, refrigerators, appliances, tree houses, and tunnels. Property owners must take special precautions if these conditions exist on their land.
Most negligence cases in Florida must abide by the statute of limitations. This time limit would prevent a claimant from proceeding with a lawsuit if too much time has passed since the injury occurred. In Florida, most negligence lawsuits must be filed within four years from the date the injury occurred.