Property and business owners have a responsibility to maintain safe conditions on the property they control. Whether it’s a private home or a public business, owners and managers are legally bound to ensure that they provide proper security and hazard-free premises. When you lawfully enter onto a property you have the right to reasonably expect a level of safety and security.
Negligent property owners and managers can be held responsible for accidents and injuries which occur on their property under a premises liability theory. The personal injury lawyers at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter understand this area of the law well and have the experience needed to pursue a premises liability case in the event you or someone you love was injured on another’s property.
If you believe that you have a premises liability case and wish to learn more, call us today at 407-712-7300 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly represent Orlando and nearby areas of Florida.
- What is a Premises Liability Claim?
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Causes for Premises Liability Cases
- Inadequate Security on Property
- Who Can Be Held Liable?
- Premises Liability and Drowning Accidents
- Compensation You May Receive
What is a Premises Liability Claim?
Premises liability claims often occur when someone suffers a personal injury caused by an unsafe or defective condition on another’s property. As with most personal injury cases, premises liability cases are based on negligence and proving the property owner was negligent in maintaining their property.
These cases can be complex, as just being injured on someone’s property doesn’t necessarily prove negligence, and even if there are unsafe conditions on a property, that doesn’t prove that the property owner or manager was negligent. To have a successful premises liability case, there are certain factors you must show, which include:
- The property owner or manager failed to use reasonable care with the property
- The owner or manager knew or should have reasonably known that the property was unsafe
- The property owner or manager failed to take proper steps to remedy the unsafe conditions
- Showing that it was the property owner or manager’s negligence that caused the dangerous conditions
- The property owner or manager knew or should have known that criminal acts were possible on their property and failed to take the necessary security precautions
- Showing that a reasonable person would have found the problem and fixed it
The above exemplifies why it’s important having experienced representation on your side to help you navigate the complicated areas of premises liability law. Our premises liability lawyers understand the intricacies regarding these types of cases and work to prove that your injuries were the result of negligence and that reasonable care was not shown to prevent such an event from happening.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are the most common type of premises liability claim as they can cause severe injuries, including broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and brain injuries. In Florida, these slips, trips, and falls often involve a swimming pool but also grocery stories where liquid or objects on the floor haven’t been picked up.
When the property owner (which can include a homeowner, property manager, or tenant) neglects their duty to provide reasonably safe premises, they can be held liable for damages caused by the injuries such as—medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. That typically involves the failure to clean up a spill, wet flooring, or address an uneven surface that impacts the safety of visitors, customers, even trespassers. Slip and falls happen on public property, private residences, and businesses. Accidents on private residences are often paid through the insurance company of the property owner.
A range of circumstances can lead to a slip and fall. The common hazards and obstacles that cause these injuries include:
- Uneven surfaces such as flooring and floor mats
- Poor lighting
- Unmarked wet or dangerous spots
- Insufficient handrailing and other assistive aspects of the property
It’s essential to have an experienced premises liability lawyer because you must show that the injuries are the direct result of a slip, trip, or fall, that was caused by an unreasonable risk, condition, or element that the property owner or manager failed to warn or correct.
Causes for Premises Liability Cases
There are many different ways that one can hurt themselves on another’s property. Regardless if your injury was caused by an unsafe condition, poor maintenance, or lack of security you may be able to file a premises liability claim to hold the property owner or manager responsible for their negligence.
You may have a premises liability case if you suffered injury resulting from an accident from:
- Slip and fall
- Inadequate maintenance of premises
- Defective or unsafe conditions on property
- Improper fire protection
- Trampoline accidents
- Falling merchandise
- Assaults and attacks
- Parking lot accidents
- Dog bites
- Amusement park ride injuries
- Construction accidents
- Wrongful death
In the event of trespassing, the obligations of a home or property owner may vary.
Inadequate Security on Property
Property owners have an obligation to make their premises safe, especially when they’re frequently used by the public. In many instances, this goes beyond protecting people against a slip-and-fall accident. It involves ensuring adequate security measures are in place to prevent criminal attacks from occurring on the property. If there is an actual or potential threat of danger, there should be steps taken to warn and protect tenants and patrons.
By law, criminal attacks are considered “foreseeable events” when they can be reasonably expected to occur under the circumstances. Owners of businesses should take steps to discourage criminal activity by:
- Hiring security personnel
- Installing sufficient lighting
- Installing security cameras or “dummy” cameras
- Preventing hedges and bushes from growing too tall
The owners and managers of apartment complexes should take steps to prevent and discourage criminal activity by:
- Providing tenants with sturdy locks and alarms on windows and doors
- Warn tenants and patrons of recurring crime
- Clearly post signs or messages to residents about potential danger
- Increase lighting around common grounds
- Have security patrols at night
- Issue new locks and key control for when new residents leave and move in
- Complete thorough background checks on maintenance personnel who have access to apartments
The location of a business or property will determine the extent of the security measures needed. Even a minor lapse in security—lights burned out in a parking lot—can have devastating consequences. Inadequate security cases usually involve violent criminal attacks, such as:
- Assault and battery
The attorneys at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter have years of experience protecting the rights of victims who have been injured in criminal attacks on unsafe premises. We understand the emotional and physical trauma that can come with being assaulted on a property you trusted to be safe. Physical injuries will heal with time, but the emotional fallout can remain for years to come.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
The person or business which controls the property is responsible for maintaining safe conditions and adequate security. This can be the property owner or someone leasing the property. In some cases, landlords can be held responsible for pre-existing property defects that cause injuries to tenants or guests. Premises liability applies to hazards which a property owner knew about or should have known about and did not correct.
Just about any property owner or manager can be held liable for injuries caused by the negligent maintenance of the property, including:
- Property owners
- Business owners
- Building managers
- Mass transit authorities
- Government entities
Discovering who is responsible for an injury at a rental property may not be as clear as many may think. Those who are renting property are not without obligation for maintaining the safety of the property. Landlords or owners are often living outside of the property and are not able or even expected, to inspect their property every day for hazards.
If you have been injured in a house or apartment that is rented, either as a guest or the tenant, whoever is responsible for maintaining the property is responsible for the injury. Leases often address this specifically and list what the tenant is responsible for taking care of. However, the physical structure itself, the house or apartment, is the owner’s responsibility.
Premises Liability and Drowning Accidents
There are approximately 3,000 drowning deaths in the U.S. each year, and most of those victims are children. Many more suffer serious, often irreversible injuries in near-drowning accidents.
Drowning is the leading cause of all accidental deaths among small children aged 1-4 years and the second leading cause of death among children aged 1-14, second only to motor vehicle accidents. In a non-fatal drowning, brain damage generally results after four minutes of submersion, and an estimated 20 percent of victims suffer severe permanent neurological disability.
Drowning accidents can happen in a number of places, including:
- Public and private swimming pools
- Hotel pools and hot tubs
- Water parks
- Oceans, lakes, ponds, and rivers
Swimming Pool Drowning Accidents
Each year there are approximately 1,900 swimming pool-related drowning deaths in the United States. On average, 300 children under age 5 drown each year. Pools that are inadequately fenced are 60 percent more likely to involve a drowning. Although drowning accidents occur when many people, including lifeguards, are around, most fatalities occur at residential pools.
In Florida, there are more than 1 million swimming pools, more than any other state. Unfortunately, with that many pools, Florida leads the country in drowning deaths. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission some statistics about swimming pools include:
- 53 percent of fatal drowning occurred at the victim’s home pool
- 19 percent drowned at a pool of a family or close friend
- 12 percent were from undisclosed locations
- 8 percent drowned at a community or commercial pool
- 8 percent were at a neighbor’s pool
Pool owners are responsible for ensuring that their pools are safe for their families and guests. Under premises law, property owners may be found liable for damages in the event of a swimming pool drowning death. In 2001, Florida enacted a law requiring the following safety features for new swimming pools:
- A qualified enclosure must separate the house from the pool
- Safety cover for the pool
- Exit alarms near windows and doors
- Doors and window latches must close
Failure to install these features may make the owner liable in the event of an injury or death. Pool owners are also often responsible if the drowning or injury was the result of negligent property conditions. Slip-proof surfaces should be installed around a pool to prevent slip and fall injuries and safety equipment should be available. If a pool does not have sufficient diving depth a pool owner must provide proper warning signs to prevent diving injuries. Diving injuries often cause neck injuries and paralysis.
If a lifeguard is assigned to a pool but his/her negligence resulted in a drowning or serious injury, then the owner of the pool or the hotel where the pool is located, may be held responsible.
However, most drowning deaths are preventable. The Florida Swimming Pool Association encourages safety for all pool owners by providing the following acronym for safety to remember some important tips:
- S is for supervision, children need to be constantly supervised
- A is for alert, watch for dangers in and around the pool
- F is for free from substances
- E is for emergency education, get trained in CPR and emergency rescue
- T is for teaching
- Y is for you, you are responsible for your pool
Compensation You May Receive
We make a personal commitment to each and every one of our clients. If we are fortunate enough to represent you and your family in your premises liability case, we’ll do everything in our power to help you recover the full amount of compensation you deserve for your injuries and your loss. Compensation we may be able to pursue for you include:
- Medical bills (current and future)
- Lost wages (current and future)
- Cost of assistance for daily life activities
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Burial and funeral expenses (wrongful death cases)
Pain and suffering and diminished quality of life are classed as “non-economic damages” since they are intangible and do not directly relate to a specific monetary amount. Calculating your damages in these categories and proving them in your case requires the skill and know-how of an experienced attorney.
Contact an Experienced Premises Liability Lawyer Today
If you believe that your injuries were caused by negligence on the part of a property or business owner in Orlando or anywhere in Florida, please call the law firm of Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter at 407-712-7300 to schedule your free consultation. Our firm is here to provide the compassionate support you need to navigate your case. We proudly represent Orlando and nearby areas of Florida.