An appeals court recently issued a decision in a plaintiff’s appeal of a final judgment motion in favor of a construction company. The plaintiff filed a Florida premises liability lawsuit against a construction company for injuries he suffered from falling into a drain. The plaintiff worked as an electrical subcontractor for a project the construction company was overseeing. There were approximately a hundred drains on the construction site, and depending on the phase of construction, the drains would be covered or uncovered. The plaintiff’s work on the site was sporadic, and he was at the site about a week before the incident leading to the lawsuit. On the day of the accident, it was bright outside, but the interior lighting was about thirty percent below the average level. When the plaintiff opened a door, dust from grinding work and the light blinded him, and he fell into the drain.
The plaintiff sued the construction company, arguing that they were negligent for failing to keep the premises safe. At trial, the defendant successfully argued that they were entitled to summary judgment because the drain was an open and obvious danger. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that there were genuine material fact issues.
In Florida, property owners and occupiers owe business invitees, such as the plaintiff, the duty to use reasonable care in maintaining the property. Further, they must warn of dangers the owner knew or should have known about, and which the invitee does not know about and cannot discover through reasonable care. There are exceptions for dangers, which are “open and obvious.” Under the open and obvious doctrine, a property owner is not liable for dangerous conditions when the condition is obvious or known, unless the owner should anticipate the danger and injuries.
Here, the defendant failed to present evidence regarding whether the dangerous condition, the drain, was obvious, or that the plaintiff knew about the uncovered drain. The court reasoned that it would not have been unreasonable for the plaintiff to assume that the drain was covered because there was no caution tape on the door. Moreover, even if the drain was an open and obvious danger, the defendant still maintained the duty to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition. Ultimately, the court concluded that there were factual questions regarding whether the defendant should have anticipated that the plaintiff would be unable to avoid the peril or enter the stairwell. Therefore, the court reversed the trial court’s ruling and remanded the case.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Slip and Fall Accident?
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries or died in a Florida premises liability accident, you should contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert Dixon. The attorneys at our office represent clients in an array of personal injury cases. We handle Florida motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice claims, product liability, and premises liability lawsuits. We understand the complex interplay of case law and statutory law, using our skills and knowledge to effectively represent clients in their claims. Our clients have recovered significant amounts of compensation for their losses through our dedicated representation. Contact our office at 877-499-4878, to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney on our team.