Many personal injury cases are centered in the legal theory of premises liability. Premises liability law states that a property owner has the legal duty to repair or warn of unsafe or defective conditions on a property to prevent injury. If a property owner fails to use reasonable care to maintain a property, resulting in injury to an invitee or licensee, he or she is guilty of negligence. Similar to other personal injury cases, a plaintiff and his or her attorney must prove a property owner’s negligence to obtain compensation for injuries.
Common Types of Premises Liability Cases
There is no limit to the number of accidents and injuries that can occur on a property. However, there are some kinds of premises liability cases our personal injury attorneys in Tampa Bay more than others. Knowing the most common types of cases can help you avoid injury in the future, or pursue compensation for your current injuries.
- Slip and fall/trip and fall accidents. Slips, trips, and falls are the most common types of premises liability accidents. A person may suffer an injury from slipping or tripping on spilled liquids, slippery floors, ice in the parking lot, an uneven curb, loose carpeting, exposed wires, objects obstructing the path, faulty stairs, or a number of other things. It’s a property owner’s responsibility to maintain a property enough to fix these hazards or warn people of known dangers.
- Swimming pool accidents. Hundreds of residents of Tampa Bay have private swimming pools in their backyards. Unfortunately, these pools are the sites of many traumatic accidents and injuries. Failing to cover or enclose a swimming pool, for example, can lead to a child wandering into the yard, falling in the pool, and drowning. Improper pool maintenance and failure to post warning signs for known hazards, such as a pool too shallow for diving, can also result in serious injury or wrongful death.
- Inadequate building security. If a property owner knows or reasonably should know that an area is dangerous, it is his or her legal responsibility to invest in adequate security to protect visitors or customers. This may include security cameras, lights, or guards. Lack of security leading to robbery, mugging, assault, or other injury can lead to property owner liability.
Other types of premises liability cases include elevator and escalator accidents, dog bites, amusement park accidents, fires, water leaks/flooding, and toxic fumes or harmful chemicals on a property.
Levels of Care in Premises Liability
Property owners owe visitors different duties of care depending on who they are and the circumstances of their visit. The three main categories for levels of care are invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Most people who come on the property will fall into one of these groups.
Invitees would include anyone a property owner invites on the property to conduct business of some kind. Business, in this sense, may be any monetary transaction or exchange of goods. For example, shoppers browsing a bookstore, sports fans celebrating at a stadium, or customers getting a shave at a barbershop are all business invitees. People you invite into your home to do work such as carpenters or painters are also business invitees. Property owners must treat business invitees with the highest level of care and make sure that the property is free of hazards.
Property owners must make any necessary repairs and do all they can to keep the property in a safe condition for business invitees. If there are any dangerous areas on the property that they are unable to fix, owners must clearly mark the area with a sign or hazard to prevent anyone from injuring themselves because of the danger. In order to keep up with the repairs, property owners are required to be continuously inspecting the property for any dangers or risks. Large spills, fallen merchandise, or misplaced items are all things that could pose a risk and that property owners should fix to protect all invitees. The expectation for continuous inspections mean that property owners are responsible for almost any problem on the property after a reasonable amount of time, even if they were not aware of the danger.
Property owners owe the second highest duty of care to licensees. Licensees are social guests. Social guests are friends, family, party guests, and anyone a property owner may have invited on the property for a social occasion. Depending on the situation, licensees can also include people who come on the property uninvited such as neighbors or friends stopping by for an unexpected visit.
To maintain the property for licensees, the property owner has to keep it in reasonably safe conditions. They should fix any clear dangers and put up signs for any hazard that they are unable to fix in time. Property owners do not owe licensees the same duty of care as they owe business invitees, but they could be responsible if a licensee suffers an injury on their property.
Traditionally, property owners owed no duty of care to trespassers. However, property owners owe a limited duty of care to those who have entered the property illegally or without invitation. Property owners do not have to keep the property in any particular condition for trespassers but could still be liable if the owner set out an intentional trap or life-threatening danger. The property owner also needs to warn trespassers of any dangers that are difficult to see in the event of them being on the premises.
There is a special duty that property owners owe to children. This is regardless of whether the owner invites the children. The “attractive nuisance doctrine” requires property owners to take care to protect children from parts of their property that the child will find appealing. Swimming pools are a common example of this.
If a property owner does not have the proper protections in place and the child hurts himself or herself, the property owner may be liable. The property owner must take steps to fix dangers and make them safe. Fixing the dangerous conditions for children could include putting up a fence or installing a lock.
Contact Our Team
If you believe a property owner breached his or her standard of duty to you as an invitee or licensee in Tampa Bay, resulting in your personal injury, please contact Fiol Law Group. We know how difficult it can be to recover from a slip and fall or other premises liability accident, and want to help you obtain compensation for your injuries. We offer free consultations so you can speak with an attorney regarding the details of your particular case and find out if we believe you have grounds for a lawsuit.