Premises liability is a form of negligence that imputes liability on a landowner or occupier for injuries that occur on their property. Premises liability claims can arise from various situations such as slip and falls, pool accidents, dog bites, and other home-related accidents. The law generally categorizes a landowner’s liability based on the classification of the visitor. The three main types of visitors under Florida premises liability law are invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Licensees are those that enter the property owner’s land for the owner’s convenience and with their permission. These visitors typically include social guests like friends or family. Landowners must ensure that their property is reasonably safe, fix unsafe conditions, and warn social guests of known dangers. Trespassers are those that enter a landowner’s property without consent or knowledge. Landowners have limited duties in these cases and must exercise reasonable care for trespassers that he knows are on the property.
Invitees are those that enter an owner’s land with the intent to transact business with the landowner’s express or implied invitation. The law provides that landowners owe these parties the highest duty of care. Landowners must ensure that their property is in a safe condition, and if it is not, they must repair defects or notify invitees of the known hazards on the property. The law further delineates the group into business invitees and public invitees. Business invitees are those that enter the land for a direct or indirect business dealing with the owner. Whereas, public invitees, are those who enter the property for a purpose for which the land is held open to the public.
There are many nuances to Florida’s premises liability laws that may drastically change a property owner’s liability. For instance, independent contractors do not fall squarely within any of the classifications. Generally, property owners are not liable for injuries that an independent contractor sustains on their land while performing their job duties. However, a recent Florida court addressed an exception to this general rule. In that case, an independent contractor filed a lawsuit against a property owner for injuries he sustained after being electrocuted while trimming trees on the property. The plaintiff conceded that he saw the electric lines, but did not know if they were high voltage lines.
In examining the case’s merits, the court reasoned that the electric line was a patent or open and obvious danger. Patent defects are those that are visible at first glance or with a reasonable inspection. Whereas, latent defects are conditions that are not apparent. Some common examples of open and obvious defects or dangers are sidewalks, ladders, large planks, and raised concrete. In this case, the court cited case law that held that visible unobstructed power lines are not a latent hazard. Therefore, the plaintiff should have presumed that the electric lines were inherently dangerous.
Have You Suffered Injuries Because of Another’s Negligence in Florida?
If you or someone you know suffered injuries while you were at a business or another person’s residence, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert Dixon. Our law firm attorneys have extensive experience successfully representing Florida slip and fall injury victims, as well as those injured in a variety of other personal injury accidents. Contact our law firm at 877-499-4878, to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney.