Florida law requires that property owners maintain their property so as to minimize the risk of injury to people who are visiting the property. There are as many types of risk of injury as there are properties. What many people don’t know, however, is that the type of visitor often determines what type of care the property owner owes them. Many personal injuries are included under this area of law.
What Is Premises Liability?
Simply put, premises liability is the idea that a property owner is liable for ensuring that a property is safe for visitation. This covers many concepts, including:
- The property is safe from slip, trip and fall hazards on the floors such as loose banding, shrink wrap, wet areas, rough flooring, holes and surfaces that are inordinately slippery.
- There is proper lighting in areas where necessary.
- There is proper signing for exits.
- There is proper signing utilized on the floor if there are wet areas or if there are liquid spills.
- Backup lighting and emergency lighting are present in commercial properties in the case of a power failure.
- Parking lots are striped and signed appropriately, thereby minimizing the risk for traffic or pedestrian accidents.
The Visitor Determines The Level Of Care
It might seem strange but the level of care that is owed to a visitor is determined by why the visitor is on the property in the first place. Visitors can be broken down into the following types:
- Licensees; and
Trespassers are defined in Florida as someone who enters a property without invitation or license either for his own purpose or at his own convenience. Property owners owe the least care to this type of visitor.
Under the law, trespassers are only afforded a duty of care from the property owner to not intentionally harm them.
A licensee is someone who comes onto a property solely for their own pleasure or convenience without any inducement or invitation of the owner, although it is with the owner’s permission.
In Florida, a licensee is treated only a little better than a trespasser. A licensee is only offered a guarantee of not being intentionally injured (just like a trespasser) and of not being injured by a wanton or reckless disregard for their safety.
There are two types of invitee in Florida: public invitee and business invitee. A public invitee is a person who is invited onto the property as a member of the public for whatever public purpose the property is used for. A business invitee is someone invited to the property for the business purposes of the owner.
An invitee, then, is offered the highest level of protection. A property owner must make reasonable efforts to protect them from harm and where there are dangers, the owner must make reasonable efforts to warn invitees of the danger.
By way of example, if you are in a grocery store as an invitee and a grape falls on the floor and two seconds later, you step on it and fall, you probably are not protected. If the grape had been on the floor for an hour and two of the owner’s employees walked past it and failed to clean it up, you may then be protected. In the first example, it is not reasonable to believe that in two seconds, the owner could have remedied the danger; in the second example, it is reasonable to believe that an hour is enough time to remedy the situation.
Contact Our Attorneys for Help
While premises liability may look relatively straightforward on the surface, it often is not. There are many elements that must be considered when an injury occurs to determine the best way forward. When and why someone is on the property is only the beginning of the analysis. If you have been injured in the Tallahassee area while on someone else’s property, you need an attorney with experience and knowledge. The skilled professionals at Barrett, Fasig & Brooks know premises liability backwards and forwards. Give us a call at (866) 346-4186 or (850) 224-3310 to set up your free initial consultation today. Let us put our years of experience to work for you and get you the results you deserve.