Slipping, tripping, and falling may be a joke on television and in the movies, but when it causes you a serious injury, it’s not a laughing matter. Thousands of serious injuries happen every year because of someone else’s carelessness or negligence.
At Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon, our lawyers help people recover compensation for premises liability injuries including costs of medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You have the right to be safe in a public place. We don’t let property owners or insurance companies treat your injuries as a joke.
How to prove your premises liability claim
To prove a premises liability claim in Florida, you must first establish what type of visitor you were to the defendant’s property. Then, decide what level of care the defendant owed you. Finally, you must show that you were harmed, despite acting reasonably.
You can be one of three categories of visitor: an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser.
An invitee is a party who was invited on to the premises. Invitees can be either public invitees or business invitees. An invitation can be express or implied.
Invitees receive the highest level of protection from the law. Property owners must:
- Use reasonable care in maintaining their premises in a reasonably safe condition;
- Warn invitees about concealed dangers they know or should have known about which the invitee does not know about and could not discover using due care.
Licensees can be invited or uninvited, and the level of protection they receive depends on their invitation status. Invited licensees are commonly social guests. Uninvited licensees are those who show up to the premises uninvited (like a door-to-door salesperson).
Property owners owe invited licensees the same duty of care as invitees. Uninvited licensees are only legally protected from willful or deliberate injury.
Finally, trespassers are those people who should not have been on the premises at all. They are owed the same minimal duty of care as uninvited licensees. The one exception is children. If a property owner knows that children might trespass on their land, due to some feature a child might be drawn to, the owner may be liable for injuries the child might sustain.
After determining the level of care the defendant owed you, you must then figure out if the defendant did not meet that level of care (such as failing to repair something or failing to give a warning). As a trespasser, you may only have a claim if:
- You were acting reasonable at the time you were hurt;
- The defendant did meet the required level of care;
- The issue was foreseeable; and
- You were harmed because of the defendant’s action or inaction.
The level of complexity of premises liability suits makes it critical that you see a licensed, experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you think you may have a claim.
Types of damages
In a premises liability suit, you may be able to receive compensation for:
- Lost wages and a decreased ability to earn
- Damaged property
- Medical expenses and future medical expenses
- Adjustments you may need to make to your environment to deal with your injury, like modifying your home or hiring help
- Pain and suffering
Statute of limitations
In Florida, the statute of limitations for premises liability claims (and personal injury claims in general) is four years from the date of the injury. It’s important, however, to get an experienced attorney’s help right away, to ensure that you preserve vital evidence.