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Understanding Premises Liability, Part 1

Premises liability is the legal principle that the owner of a property is responsible for the safety of those who enter their property. Premises liability was established by common law rather than by statute. This means most premises liability cases are not dictated by the written codes and laws of the state, but by the precedent set by previous cases. There have been many important cases that have expanded what property owners are liable for and who they can be held liable to.

To be sure, the most common type of premise liability issue is a slip and fall, which can lead to devastating injuries. However, many other incidents can fall under the umbrella of premise liability, including the following:

  • Weather-related injuries – An issue may arise if a property owner does not perform reasonable maintenance to reduce harm from weather conditions. Sometimes in colder weather, snow and ice accumulation can pose a safety hazard.
  • Inadequate security – If a landlord fails to provide a tenant with a lock and this leads to an assault or robbery, the landlord may be partially responsible for damages under premises liability.
  • Hazards – A broken staircase, open hole, uninspected elevator or other danger could cause injury to visitors to the property.
  • Dog bites – Dog owners are responsible for any action their pet may take under Florida law. If you have permission to be on someone’s property and their dog bites you, the owner is responsible for any damages as long as you were not provoking the dog.
  • Swimming pool accidents – The exact rules governing pool safety can be found here, but it is generally recommended to keep swimming pools fenced in and inaccessible to children. A swimming pool can be pose a hazard if it is too shallow and someone attempts to dive, too deep for a child who cannot swim, or simply improperly maintained and full of bacteria or dangerous chemicals. Proper signage and supervision is important.
  • Fires – When a fire broke out at Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and killed 146 workers, the owners were held liable because they had locked the exits to prevent workers from taking unauthorized breaks. In this instance, the factory owners actually faced criminal charges for their actions.

The common thread between all types of premises liability cases is negligence. The owner of the property has a legal obligation towards the safety of anyone who visits their property. If the owner of the property has reasonable notice of a hazard, and does nothing about it, they are responsible if someone is injured. This raises some questions. What if someone doesn’t have permission to be on your property? Could you still be held liable if they injured themselves? The questions will be answered in the next segment.

Let Our Attorneys Help You

If you have been injured and think the property owner was responsible, it’s important to secure knowledgeable and experienced legal representation. The Port St. Lucie attorneys at Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. have the experience it takes to help succeed in your case. Contact our legal team for a consultation.

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