Premises Liability in Florida – What to know
Premises liability is probably a phrase that you’ve heard before; if you own or rent a home, place of business or any other property, it applies to you! Premises liability has to do with who is “liable” for injuries incurred on a given “property.” Typically, the owner of the property is primarily responsible for any injuries that occur on their property, but tenants and occupiers, for example, may also be named in a claim or lawsuit. So, for example, if someone is visiting a friend at their apartment, and they trip over a pipe protruding from the wall, and are injured, the issue of premises liability becomes more complicated than one might think.
In the case of the instance listed above, the injured person can make a claim against the property owner, the apartment leasing company (if it’s different than the property owner) and the occupant of the apartment (the friend of the injured person who leases the apartment). We’ve all heard about the case of a robber breaking into a home, falling on a knife, and suing the homeowner for the injuries he sustained while robbing the house. The case is often referenced as substantiation for the lack of ethics associated with some sorts of personal injury law. However, this “case” was simply a line delivered in a Jim Carrey movie form 1997, Liar Liar, in which he plays a sleazy (and lying) lawyer (before eventually coming to his senses).
It would be absurd to think that any robber in a house can sue the homeowner for injuries they incur while performing an illegal act. It’s hard to hold something up in court when the incident took place during a conscious, illegal act. This is why evidence that is recovered without a warrant –while it may be darn good evidence – is inadmissible in a court of law because it was obtained illegally.
So, because of this, Florida law has three separate categories or “labels” of people when they enter onto another’s home, residence or place of business: The first is that of “business invitee.” This person has been invited to the property because of business. For example, a customer in a shoe store would be characterized as a “business invitee.” The second category is that of “licensee.” A licensee enters the property as a social guest, and his presence is based on the consent of the property owner. For example, when you were a dinner guest at your Aunt Joan’s home last week, you were a “licensee.” She knew you were at the house and it was for social reasons that you were there. Now, the third, and most ominous category is that of “trespasser.” A trespasser is someone who enters onto a property without the knowledge or permission of the owner of the property. A robber is a trespasser, as is someone who might inconspicuously cut through a given property to get to work (thereby taking the quickest route possible).
In all instances, the owner of the property is responsible for some level of reasonable care over their property as to not allow injury to others. As for trespassers, as a matter of civil law, the owner of the property must not intentionally harm the person. Still, a trespasser might be able to receive compensation if they’re hurt on a property if the trespasser is a child. If an adult trespasses and climbs into a tree house and falls out of it, they probably wouldn’t be able to make a claim against the homeowner. However, if a child trespasses and goes poking around a tree house and falls, they may be able to make the claim. This is because children are notoriously curious and they are poor judges of what is dangerous and what is not.
Given that you rent or own a home, and visit other homes and places of business, it is important that you familiarize yourself with this type of information. Make sure that if you are expecting guests, you clear your floor of all sharp objects. And if you own a hardware store, make sure that all of the saws are stowed away safely and that there is no slippery residue on the floor. Protect yourself – financially and physically.
If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to call the Law Offices of Aronberg and Aronberg at 561-266-9191 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.