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Slip and Falls Issues in Commercial Leases – Hillstone v. P.F. Chang’s

streetUnfortunately, slip and fall accidents happen routinely in Florida and throughout the United States. There are a number of reasons that slip and fall accidents occur, from uneven sidewalks to slippery floors. Generally, it is the responsibility of a landlord to ensure that the premises are in safe condition for visitors. If your slip and fall happens because of a landlord’s negligence, you may be able to take legal action to recover costs associated with your injuries.

In Hillstone Restaurant Group v. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, the appellate court addressed a slip and fall case in which the plaintiff fell on a sidewalk near the entrance of a P.F. Chang’s restaurant. The plaintiff alleged that she tripped and fell due to an uneven sidewalk. She later filed a negligence action against the restaurant and the property owner, who had leased the space to the restaurant.

A negligence claim is a legal action that basically alleges the defendant failed to use reasonable care, which is ultimately what led to the plaintiff’s injuries. In other words, negligence is the failure to take proper care in doing something that leads to harm. In order to prevail on a negligence claim, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care and that the defendant breached the duty of care, which directly caused the plaintiff’s injuries or property damage. A plaintiff cannot recover any monetary compensation unless he or she has first established negligence.

Here, the issue was determining who was negligent, the restaurant or the property owner, which both filed cross claims against each other seeking indemnity from the other. The lease agreement between the property owner and the restaurant defined the premises as the site, site improvements, and a designated parcel. According to the definition, the incident took place on the premises. The terms of the lease stated that the tenant was responsible for indemnifying the landlord for accidents only on the premises.

The trial court granted summary judgment for the restaurant, stating that the curb where the trip and fall took place was located in a common area and not on the restaurant’s premises. The appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision, highlighting that there was a difference between the word “premises” as defined in the actual lease agreement in question versus “premises” as defined in a dictionary. The court held that the landlord had no duty to indemnify the tenant when the slip and fall occurred because, under the lease terms, the sidewalk was considered part of the “premises” leased to the tenant. However, the restaurant was obligated to indemnify the landlord from any injury arising on the “premises” as defined in the lease.

The case highlights the importance of having a diligent and detail-oriented attorney who will take the time to review all the relevant documents in the case. If you or someone you know has experienced a slip and fall accident, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. Robert Dixon is a highly skilled Miami premises liability attorney who understands the nuances of premises liability law. We can discuss the merits of your case and come up with a strategy that will help maximize your recovery. We understand that a slip and fall can affect every aspect of your life, which is why we are here to help. We proudly represent clients throughout the state of Florida. For a free and confidential initial consultation, contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878).

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