Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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The Florida District Court of Appeals recently released an opinion addressing whether a property owner breached its non-delegable statutory duty to a person injured on a boat dock. The case arose after a woman suffered injuries on a boat dock outside of her friends’ beach club condominium. The woman filed a lawsuit against the beach club, her friends, and the construction company that was in charge of repairing the dock. She contended that the beach club was liable for breaching its duty to maintain the dock, the construction was responsible for failing to repair the dock, and her friends should have warned her of any hazardous conditions.

In response, the beach club argued the affirmative defense of comparative negligence, alleging that third parties caused the woman’s injuries. However, the plaintiff argued that the beach club was jointly and severally liable for all of her damages, and the defense was inappropriate because the club did not identify the other parties’ negligence.

Florida premises liability law states that property owners must use reasonable care in maintaining their property, and they must warn invitees of concealed or latent dangers that are unknown to the invitee. Moreover, Florida’s Condominium Act provides that condo associations must maintain their common areas in a reasonably safe condition. In this case, the contract between the condo association and owners imposed an additional non-delegable duty, which required the beach club to maintain the dock and other communal areas.

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Florida personal injury laws require accident victims to meet strict evidentiary requirements to pursue damages for their injuries. If an accident victim fails to comply with the ever-changing and rigid laws, they risk the dismissal of their case. Florida accident victims must understand the responsibilities and burden of proof that the law imposes. This understanding is especially pertinent in Florida slip and fall cases.

In response to the growing rate of fraudulent personal injury claims, the Florida legislature enacted Florida Statute section 768.0755. This statute shifted the burden of proof from the defendant to the plaintiff. Before this statute, the law required business owners to prove that they were not responsible for the slip and fall. However, now victims must establish that the business had actual or constructive notice of the hazardous condition on their property. Business owners do not need to prove anything or present evidence until the plaintiff meets their burden.

Defendants will often try and discredit a plaintiff’s case during settlement negotiations or through a motion for summary judgment during pretrial proceedings. A motion for summary judgment essentially asks the court to dismiss the claim based on the plaintiff’s failure to present a triable issue. For example, in a recent opinion, a state appellate court reversed a trial court’s denial of a defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a slip and fall case.

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The judge plays several roles in a Florida personal injury trial. Among a judge’s most important job is to determine which evidence the jury is permitted to consider in coming to its decision. When preparing for trial, parties gather all the evidence they hope to use to support their case. However, not all evidence is admissible for every purpose. Some evidence is categorically prohibited, and other evidence is admissible for limited purposes. The judge decides what evidence the jury will be able to consider, and for what purposes. In making these decisions, judges must follow the Florida Rules of Evidence.

In a recent Florida slip and fall case, the court had occasion to discuss what is called the “best evidence rule.” Under Florida Statutes section 90.954, “except as otherwise provided by statute, an original writing, recording, or photograph is required in order to prove the contents of the writing, recording, or photograph.” Thus, under the rule, if the evidence is a writing, recording, or photograph, only the original source of that evidence can be submitted. In the case mentioned above, the evidence at issue was video surveillance tape from the grocery store where the plaintiff slipped and fell.

Under the best evidence rule, the original source of the evidence is required unless:

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Serious slip and fall injuries can take months to recover from and, in some cases, a full recovery may not even be possible. In the event that you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, is it vital to reach out to a seasoned Miami injury attorney as soon as possible. The question of fault in these cases can be confusing but, with years of experience, you can trust that we know how to handle even the most complicated Florida personal injury claims.

In a recent case, a Florida appeals court recently issued an opinion in a personal injury claim deciding whether the lower court properly permitted the plaintiff to leave to amend her claim to pursue punitive damages from the defendant. Eventually, the court held that it did not have the power to examine the lower court’s decision.

The facts of the case are as follows. In 2011, a minor child was injured when she fell from an amusement ride known as the “Psycho Swing”at a park in Hollywood. The parents of the child sued those who manufactured, owned and operated the ride for strict negligence. In such cases, the defendant is liable for harm even though he or she did not intend to cause the harm and did not cause it by being reckless or negligent. Among other defendants named in the lawsuit, the company that owned and rented out the swing was named.

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In a recent appellate opinion, the court reversed a trial court’s ruling in a Florida personal injury lawsuit filed by a tenant against her landlord. The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit after she fell while walking on a pathway to her condominium. The plaintiff based her claim on the landlord’s failure to warn of the known danger and maintain the premises in a safe condition. The plaintiff argued that although she too was aware of the dangerous condition, she had notified the landlord on several occasions and offered to fix the pathway herself.

Evidently, the landlord did not repair the broken path and did not allow the plaintiff to do so. The landlord moved for summary judgment, arguing that it was not liable because the woman knew the fractured pathway, the danger was open and obvious, and she assumed the risk by not avoiding the path when she knew it to be damaged. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that there were genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the damaged pathway was open and obvious, along with the landlord’s failure to maintain the premises.

Under Florida law, landowners or occupiers owe invitees two separate duties. First, the landowner or occupier must maintain the property, ensuring that the premises are reasonably safe. Second, property owners must warn guests of any concealed dangers. Landowners may avoid liability if they establish that the dangerous condition was “open and obvious.” In these cases, a landowner will not be liable for injuries if the guest knew of the hazardous condition. However, Florida slip and fall victims can recover damages for their injuries based on a landowner’s failure to maintain their premises.

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A Florida appellate court recently issued a ruling in favor of a plaintiff in her premises liability lawsuit against the Orange County Public Library System (the “Library”). The plaintiff filed strict liability and negligence claims against the Library after she suffered injuries when a bottom drawer of a copier unexpectedly popped out and caused her to trip. The plaintiff claimed that the Library was strictly liable based on their ownership of the defective copier. She also claimed the Library was negligent under premises liability. She filed an appeal after the trial court dismissed her claims based on her failure to state a cause of action. The appellate court addressed Florida’s pleading requirements in negligence lawsuits and concluded that the plaintiff met the state’s requirements, allowing her case to proceed towards trial.

When a Florida slip and fall victim files a premises liability lawsuit against a business owner, the plaintiff must provide the factual basis of their claim in their complaint. There are two pleading systems in the United States, fact and notice. While federal claims follow the notice pleading system, Florida state claims require fact pleadings. A plaintiff’s complaint must comply with the state’s fact-pleading requirement and include a “short and plain” statement of the facts that show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief.

In Florida negligence lawsuits, the complaint must allege:

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Slip and fall accidents can lead to devastating, life-changing consequences for a person. In the most serious cases, these accidents can be fatal. When a slip and fall accident takes place on another’s property, you could potentially obtain compensation for things like medical bills and lost income that are a direct result of the accident. Our Miami premises liability attorneys will meticulously look into what happened in your case and fervently advocate for your rights.

In a recent opinion, a plaintiff lived in a condominium for almost ten years. During that whole time, she knew about a specific crack in the sidewalk and watched it continue to worsen. In fact, she had traversed the area many times without incident – never taking special care to avoid it. While she told the landlord that the area needed to be repaired, no repairs were made. Then one day, the plaintiff fell on the fractured concrete. She sued the landlord for injuries, alleging failure to warn and a failure to maintain the premises.

The landlord filed a motion for summary judgment saying that the condition was open and obvious. They used the plaintiff’s own testimony indicating that she knew about the condition and she also knew that there were other paths she could have used. The trial court granted the landlord’s motion based on the plaintiff’s undeniable awareness of the sidewalk’s condition, its open and obvious nature, and her assumption of risk.

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Slip and fall accidents can lead to serious and long-term injuries. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you may be able to seek compensation for losses that are a direct result of the accident. Our experienced and reliable Miami premises liability attorneys will examine your case to determine your rights and options following a fall.

A Florida appeals court recently issued an opinion in a Florida slip and fall case explaining pleading requirements under state law and discussing whether the plaintiff’s complaint adequately alleged a claim against the defendant. The court held that the plaintiff’s complaint sufficiently alleged a cause of action and reversed the lower court’s decision, permitting the plaintiff’s claim to move forward to trial.

The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiff was at a local library making copies at a photocopier when she tripped and fell over the bottom drawer of the photocopier. She alleged that the bottom drawer suddenly flew wide open causing her to trip and fall on both knees despite her attempt to prevent the fall. The plaintiff sued the library arguing that the library owned the photocopier and, thus,  had a duty to maintain the machine so it was safe for patrons to use. The trial court held that the complaint failed to state a cause of action and dismissed the case.

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People get injured in all sorts of places, including places of worship. If you or someone close to you has been injured at a church, mosque, synagogue, temple, or other religious place, you may be entitled to compensation for your harm. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our skilled Miami premises liability attorneys can scrutinize the facts of your accident and help you understand your legal rights and options.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that slip, trip, and fall accidents account for 15 percent of all accidental deaths in the United States, which puts them in second place behind auto accidents. Unfortunately, these accidents can happen at places of worship due to a variety of hazardous conditions on the property, such as uneven surfaces, slick surfaces due to spilled liquids or recent cleaning, trash or debris on the floor, poor lighting that can lead to poor visibility, having no handrail present when it was needed, and loose floorboards, rugs, or mats, especially on stairs.

Places of worship are not immune from lawsuits. Most of these places operate like a business with a hierarchy consisting of officials, employees, and a number of volunteers. As a result, most worship houses carry liability insurance.

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Property owners have a responsibility to ensure that property under their control is in safe conditions and free from hazards that could cause injury to those to who visit the premises. If you or a person you know has sustained an injury in a slip and fall mishap on another’s property, you could be eligible to recover monetary damages. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our seasoned Miami premises liability lawyers are committed to getting clients the compensation they deserve for their harm.

Florida Court Addresses Issue of ‘Open and Obvious” Danger in Recent Case

In a recent premises liability case, the 5th DCA discussed whether a plaintiff’s case should be able to move toward trial even though the hazard instigating her fall was open and obvious. In Middleton v. Don Asher & Associates, a fifteen-year resident of a condominium complex tripped on an uneven sidewalk in the community. She used that path routinely during her time as a resident there. As a result of the fall, the woman suffered serious injuries and sued the condominium association as well as its property manager.

At trial, the condominium association claimed that the uneven sidewalk was an open and obvious danger, which is why the plaintiff was not entitled to compensation for her injuries. The trial court agreed and granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, explaining that the uneven sidewalk was, as a matter of law, an open and obvious danger.

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