If you are injured on someone else’s property in Florida, can you file a claim?
It depends on whether the landowner violated a duty s/he had to you. First, you need to determine your status regarding your being on the property. The duty owed varies between invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
If you are on property because the owner invited you, either with an express or an implied invitation, you are an invitee.
For businesses, an invitee is a person who has come there for a business transaction. In other words, if you go into a grocery store to buy groceries, you are an invitee. The grocery store welcomes the public to enter and purchase groceries.
For homeowners, an invitee is a person who is an invited guest.
Landowners owe the highest duty of care to invitees. The landowner has two duties:
- Maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition, and
- Warn invitees of dangerous conditions the landowner knows about or should know about, if the dangerous condition is not obvious and cannot be discovered by the invitee when exercising appropriate care. Note: Some Florida courts say the landowner also has a duty to discover the dangerous condition and fix it or warn the invitee.
The mere fact that an accident happened does not make the landowner automatically liable. If the landowner did not violate a duty of care, he might not be liable.
A licensee is a sort of hybrid between an invitee and a trespasser. The licensee is not on the premises by invitation, but is also not forbidden by the landowner. In a business setting, this might be a person who enters the grocery store to use the restroom, but not to buy groceries. The person is not there for the benefit of the landowner, or for their mutual benefit.
Florida courts treat licensees the same as discovered trespassers. The landowner is not allowed to do willful harm to the invitee. The landowner must also warn of a dangerous condition that is not obvious to the licensee.
As we stated above, a landowner must treat a discovered trespasser the same as a licensee.
An undiscovered trespasser has the least amount of protection. Under Florida law, Fla. Stat. § 768.075(3), a landowner has no duty to warn undiscovered trespassers of dangerous conditions on the property. The landowner will only be liable for injuries resulting directly from intentional misconduct by or on behalf of the landowner.
Note: These laws do not extend to children. Under Florida’s attractive nuisance law, property owners must ensure that they close off any parts of the property that might be attractive to children (e.g., swimming pools, trampolines).
Will I be able to recover compensation if I prove my status?
Not always. Regardless of whether you are an invitee, a licensee or a trespasser, the landowner might be able to defend against a claim for an injury on the property if the danger was “open and obvious.” If there is an obvious defect on the property, and the danger of it is also obvious, the landowner likely has no duty to warn.
If you have been injured on someone else’s property, you need a Fort Lauderdale premises liability lawyer to help you evaluate if you can make a claim. These cases are complicated, but you do not have to navigate the process alone.
Call Montero Law Center to schedule a free consultation today: 954-767-6500.