Do I need an attorney to bring a premises liability lawsuit?
Our recommendation: yes, you need an attorney. And here’s why. Our premises liability attorneys in Clearwater can help you file a claim after you have suffered injuries on another person’s property. At the Law Offices of Tragos, Sartes & Tragos, we have the qualifications that are necessary to assist those who have been injured. Our firm can collect evidence to help you build an effective property injury case. In addition, we may be able to help you negotiate a settlement with the property owner. Call a Clearwarter injury attorney today to get started. En Español.
Clearwater, FL Accident Attorneys Holding Negligent Property Owners Liable
Property owners have an obligation to ensure that their premise is free from hazards. At the very least, guests must be adequately warned of any dangers that are present. If a property owner is negligent in maintaining the premises, the injured party can pursue compensation. Property owners owe different levels of care depending on the type of situation. Invitees are individuals who have been invited to enter and remain on the premises for a commercial benefit.
For customers, property owners are required to inspect their premises and provide warnings of any hazards. Licensees include friends, family members, and other social guests. These individuals are present for non-commercial purposes. Property owners are required to maintain and fix any hazardous areas of their premises on behalf of licensees. Trespassers are individuals who are not invited on the premises. Property owners hold minimal obligation to trespassers.
In most businesses, there may be one or more hazardous conditions that arise on the premises. Businesses are expected to know about these hazards and take steps to minimize their occurrences and eliminate them when they arise. A property owner may be liable for an accident when an individual can show that the owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard and failed to take measures to remedy it.
A business or property owner may be shown to have constructive knowledge if:
- The presence of a hazard occurs often and is foreseeable
- The hazardous condition existed long enough that it should have been discovered
Slip and Fall Injury: Filing a Premises Liability Claim
Florida law allows individuals to make a premises liability claim in certain circumstances where they suffer injuries from a slip and fall accident. However, the laws regarding these situations are very specific. If you have been injured, it is important to know what you will need to prove in order to make a successful claim.
A premises liability claim requires an injured individual to prove the following:
- The property owner had constructive knowledge of the presence of a hazard
- The property owner had a duty to the individual on the premises
- The property owner was negligent in his or her duties to the individual
Dangerous Premises: Actions of the Visitor vs. the Condition of the Property
The court will take the condition of the property and the actions of the owner and visitor into consideration. A uniform standard requires the visitor, or invitee, to exercise reasonable care while on the owner’s property. This same standard requires the property owner to regularly inspect his or her premises, identify any dangerous conditions and either repair them or post warning signs.
An owner can be held responsible if he or she fails to take necessary steps to fix the dangerous condition. When determining whether or not an owner has met this uniform standard of reasonableness, the court will examine numerous factors.
Examples of these factors are as follows:
- What the property is used for
- Predictability of the injury or accident that occurred
- The given circumstances under which the visitor entered the property
- Willingness of the owner to repair dangerous hazards and warn visitors
If it is deemed that the visitor’s behavior has some part to play in his or her own injuries, the court adheres to a “comparative fault” system. Basically, this reduces the injured person’s legal damages by a percentage which the court finds equivalent to his or her fault in the incident.
If the court decides that the visitor is 10 percent liable for his or her injuries, and the total damages equal $10,000, he or she will only receive $9,000. Our Clearwater personal injury attorneys may be able to help you determine how these factors will affect your premises liability claim.
Special Rules for Landlords and Lessors
Special rules of liability apply in cases involving lessors (landlords) of property. The general rule is that a lessor is not responsible to a lessee for physical harm caused by the poor condition of the property. This is because the lessor has little to no control over the property once it is leased out; however, this rule does come with some exceptions.
For instance, a lessor may be held responsible if latent property defects existed before the lessee moved onto the property and the lessor knew about these defects. A latent defect is an artificial or natural condition that is concealed and unreasonably dangerous. If the lessor agrees to repair the defect, it must be repaired fully or he or she may still be held accountable.
Liability Lawyer for Accidents on Commercial Properties
Commercial property is defined as a property that is zoned for business use and not as a house or residence. Liability is on the part of the property, either the owner or operator, in the course and scope of inviting people to do business with them. In a Clearwater commercial property-liability case, the property owner or the property lessor could be at fault depending on the element that caused the injury.
There are very specific statutes in Florida and also under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the federal statutes that require premises to be built, maintained and managed in certain ways. Many times, an injury occurs simply because there is a defect in the construction or the maintenance that is not readily apparent, and a person never wants to lose the opportunity to do that discovery and investigate those potentials.
If you have been injured on public property, it may be critical to speak with a Clearwater commercial property liability lawyer about your case. An experienced premises liability attorney can help you seek damages should you ever get injured.