In Florida, Comparative Negligence Questions Should be Determined by a Jury

Under Florida law, property owners may be liable for injuries caused on their premises as a result of defective or faulty property conditions. The law, however, gives property owners a defense for dangerous conditions on the property that are “open and obvious.” This is because if a condition is open and obvious, the tenant or visitor can avoid it and prevent injury to himself or herself.

In Wieder v. King Cole Condominium Association, the plaintiff was walking in a common area of her condominium building when she tripped over an area of the carpet that had buckled. The carpet had just been cleaned by the building’s cleaning staff and was still wet at the time of the accident. As a result of the fall, she sustained injuries to her arm, hand, and neck.

According to the plaintiff, she and other tenants had sent numerous complaints to the condominium’s management alerting them to the potentially dangerous condition of the carpet. Even so, the carpet had not yet been repaired. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the condominium building under the theory of negligence. Negligence occurs when a defendant fails to take reasonable care when doing something that results in an injury to another person. Here, the plaintiff alleged that the condo association had violated its duty to keep the common area safe for tenants.

The condo association countered, claiming that the condition was open and obvious to the plaintiff, who could have avoided the condition and prevented the injury. Thus, the condo association contended that the plaintiff was negligent. The trial court agreed with the condo association, finding that the plaintiff was aware of the faulty carpet because she had previously walked over it and had also acknowledged it in her notification to the condo association.

The court of appeals disagreed with the trial court and reversed its decision. The court reasoned that the issue of the plaintiff’s negligence should have been determined by a jury rather than be resolved through summary judgment. Thus, the trial court erred when the trial judge found the plaintiff was negligent. Moreover, the court of appeals pointed out that the relevant issue in this case is whether the condo association could “anticipate the continued traversing of the hallway and buckled carpet by condominium residents and that they could be harmed by so doing.” Since this is a question of fact, it should not have been resolved through summary judgment.

Florida premises liability laws can be complex and overwhelming, but you don’t need to tackle them alone. All Florida property owners have certain duties to those who enter their land, although the duties can vary depending on the relationship between the property owner and visitor. We understand the nuances of premises liability law. If you or someone close to you has been injured on the property of another, it is imperative to consult an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. Florida personal injury lawyer Robert Dixon can help assess the merits of your case and help you seek the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) for a free, confidential consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Basic Slip and Fall Law in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, June 23, 2014

Understanding the Pure Comparative Negligence Law in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, June 23, 2014

Liability in Rental Car Accidents in Florida – Adams v. Bell Partners, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, June 23, 2014

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