The owners of establishments that are open to the public, like supermarkets, shopping malls, and nightclubs, owe their customers or business invitees an assurance that their premises are reasonably safe and absent of dangerous conditions. To comply with their legal responsibilities, owners and managers of public places must take reasonable measures to eliminate hazardous conditions on any portion of the property that invitees are allowed to be in.
How Does the State of Florida Address Premise Liability?
Florida law imposes the legal duty to correct dangerous conditions onto the landowner, its management company, or its employees as soon as the hazard becomes known to them. The owner of the premises will also be held legally responsible if they fail to eliminate unknown, dangerous conditions that could have been discovered if they had exercised reasonable care in maintaining or inspecting the property. That means that if the unknown dangerous condition that caused harm to the customer wouldn’t have been discovered, even when the landowner was exercising due care, then there is no breach of duty. Landowners also have a legal responsibility to warn their patrons of any known hazards that wouldn’t be discovered by an invitee who’s using due care.
Transitory Hazards in Slip and Fall Accidents
Supermarkets are often defendants in premises liability cases. When foods and liquids spill onto the floor, they may create a temporary hazard and cause a customer to slip. An example of this type of dangerous condition are fruits and vegetables. Because a food spill is usually a temporary hazard, they’re classified by the law as transitory hazards. Transitory hazards require proof of the length of time that they existed prior to the customer’s accident. To establish that the dangerous liquid was on the floor for a sufficient amount of time to impose liability onto the property owner, the plaintiff’s lawyer may point to the amount of the substance that was present at the time of the accident or the amount transferred onto the shopper’s clothing. Another means of showing the length of time that a dangerous situation went uncorrected is by indicating physical signs that the temporary hazard had been present for a while. Examples of this would be dirty track marks on the floor or the deteriorated condition of the food product.
Constructive Notice vs. Actual Notice
Constructive Notice – Proof of the length of time that the hazard is on the floor is essential to demonstrating constructive notice, which simply means that in our example of the supermarket, the management had a reasonable opportunity to identify and eliminate the hazard before the customer’s accident.
Actual Notice – On the other hand, if an employee or agent of the property owner or management creates the dangerous condition. the store can be charged with actual notice of the dangerous condition. In actual notice situations, the customer-plaintiff doesn’t have to demonstrate the length of time the transitory conditions existed prior to the slip-and-fall accident. The responsible party should have recognized the hazard and addressed it immediately.
Building a Slip and Fall Accident Case
The concepts of constructive notice and actual notice are particularly important in understanding premise liability with regard to supermarkets. Supermarkets will often defend themselves by touting the frequency of their routine inspections. Their attorneys will claim that the hazard had occurred too closely to the time of the accident to constitute constructive notice. As plaintiff litigation lawyers, we will acquire the store’s maintenance logs and question the employees under oath. Additionally, security camera footage, which can be obtained via subpoena, sometimes capture the time that the spill occurred or other useful information that can be used to demonstrate negligence. Oftentimes, we uncover discrepancies between the written inspection records and the actual practices followed by the employees.
Other Types of Premise Liability Actions
Premises owners, including shopping-malls and restaurant owners, are also responsible for the conditions of the interior walkways, sidewalks, and parking lots. Accidents that occur in these places are often caused by a long-standing condition, such as a pothole in the asphalt, uneven surfaces between adjacent concrete blocks, or insufficient warnings of a dangerous condition. Our firm uses construction records, permit application photographs, and internal building project documents, as well as other types of proof to demonstrate actual knowledge of the hazard, but these records can also be used to establish constructive knowledge of a condition.
The Responsibility of Private Property Owners
The responsibility of safety for one’s guests is not exclusive to the owners and managers of public spaces. Private homeowners who host guests on their private property are also responsible for their safety. Property owners owe a legal duty of care to those they invite onto their land, known as business invitees. The duty of reasonable care doesn’t extend to adult trespassers. However, the non-liability for trespassers rule doesn’t apply to children if there is a condition on the property that’s likely to attract them. In those cases, the children have the same legal rights as an invitee. This enticing condition is referred to as an attractive nuisance, and can include swimming pools, mechanical equipment, and ropes hanging over a body of water. Some of the most tragic premise-liability cases involve children and swimming pools, and our firm has represented grief-stricken parents in their pursuit of justice in this type of wrongful death case.
Slip and Fall Personal Injury Lawyer in Broward
If you’re injured due to a property owner’s negligence, you can be facing medical bills, lost wages, physical pain and suffering, and mental anguish. If you can demonstrate actual or constructive knowledge and a relationship between a hazard and your injuries, you’re entitled to financial compensation for your damages. The Law Office of Oscar Syger can assist you in making a full physical and financial recovery following your accident. Contact our South Florida office for a free consultation.
Other Practice Areas
- General Negligence
- Product Liability
- Automobile Accidents
- Liquor Liability
- Slip and Fall
- Police Misconduct
If you are looking for a liquor liability lawyer in Pembroke Pines/Miramar, contact Law Offices of Oscar Syger!