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Florida Court Discusses Landlord’s Duties in Recent Slip and Fall Case

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.

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision but reversed as to the duty to maintain. The court explained that a landowner owes an invitee two distinct duties: 1) the duty to maintain the premises so that it is in reasonably safe condition and 2) the duty to warn of any hidden dangers. In the case at hand, since the plaintiff knew about the condition and because the condition itself was open and obvious, the landlord was discharged of his duty to warn the plaintiff of the defect. However, the landlord was not automatically released from his duty to maintain the property.

The plaintiff’s awareness of the dangerous condition of the sidewalk simply raised an issue of fact as to her own comparative negligence. Therefore, while the trial court correctly entered summary judgment favoring the landlord regarding the duty to warn, it erred in granting summary judgment on the issue of failure to maintain. As such, the case was remanded for further proceedings on that issue.

Sadly, preventable slip and fall accidents injure countless people in Florida and throughout the country. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you may be able to recover compensation for your harm. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our seasoned Miami slip and fall lawyers are committed to helping South Florida clients resolve their personal injury claims. We understand that dealing with any type of lawsuit can be extremely stressful, but you can rest assured that your case is in good hands. To speak to one of our dedicated attorneys, call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online.