What Are Florida Premises Liability Laws?

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Florida premises liability laws require business and property owners to ensure the premises or property they manage is safe for others. Property or business owners can be held financially accountable for resulting losses if someone sustains injuries on their property due to a condition that the owner knew or should have known about. The statute of limitations for pursuing such a case in Clearwater, Florida, is two years from when the accident occurred.

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Common premises liability claims in Florida include slip and fall accidents, inadequate security, and dog bites. The burden of proof in a premises liability case lies on the plaintiff. You must demonstrate the existence of the duty of care, the breach of duty, a foreseeable hazard, injury, and a compensable loss to recover compensation.

What Is Premises Liability in Florida?

Premises liability is the legal responsibility occupiers or landowners have for torts happening on their property or land. It may cover injuries that someone sustained due to hazardous conditions like wet floors, uneven pavement, open excavations, uncleared snow, and inadequate security. The following conditions must exist for your premises liability claim to be valid:

  • The defendant controls the premises or land.
  • You were an invitee or licensee.
  • There’s a breach of the duty of care owed to you.

Premises liability largely involves negligence, as it falls under personal injury. It is based on the principle that business or property owners have a duty to ensure properties they control or manage are safe for others. Under premises liability Florida statute, visitors entering a property can be invitees, licensees, or sometimes trespassers. 

Statute of Limitations for Florida Premises Liability Claims

The statute of limitations sets the maximum time limit for parties in a civil dispute to pursue damages through a legal action. It generally starts on the date the alleged incident occurred. In Florida, premises liability cases have a statute of limitations of two years. The time limit for pursuing such claims starts from the date the victim was involved in an accident.

Your premises liability case may get dismissed if you fail to file it within the two-year statute of limitations. However, exceptions to the time limit may apply. Your Florida premises liability lawyer can review your specific circumstances to determine how long you have to take legal action. 

Types of Premises Liability Claims to Pursue in Clearwater, Florida

You may have legal grounds to pursue a premises liability claim if you suffered injuries on someone else’s property. Your claim may be valid if an owner’s or manager’s negligence at a business premises, amusement park, swimming pool, or other private or public property caused your accident. 

Most common premises liability cases in Florida involve slips, trips, and falls, elevator/escalator accidents, inadequate safety/security measures, and fires. Your premises liability lawyer can help determine whether you have grounds for a premises liability claim.

Slip and Fall Accidents

A slip-and-fall accident involves an individual falling on someone else’s property and sustaining an injury. It can occur in a private or public space. Common causes of slips and falls in buildings are wet floors, loose mats or rugs, potholes or cracks, uneven sidewalks or flooring, loose or missing railings, cluttered walkways, poorly-lit stairwells, unmarked step-downs, and exposed wiring.

Injuries sustained in a slip-and-fall accident may include severe cuts, jaw fractures, hip fractures, and nose fractures. The accident victim may also suffer a traumatic brain injury, a neck injury, or a spinal cord injury in serious cases. 

Inadequate Security

Also known as negligent security, inadequate security is a legal cause of action that an accident victim can bring against a property owner or business when the victim gets injured due to a lack of proper security on the property. Most inadequate security actions involve a lack of security equipment, lack of security personnel, and poor lighting.

Other examples of negligent security include broken gates or fences, unlockable doors or windows, untrained or unqualified security guards, and malfunctioning cameras or alarm systems. Injuries in a negligent security claim may arise from battery, assault, rape, or robbery. The victim may suffer soft tissue injuries, broken bones, psychological injuries, spinal cord injuries, or traumatic brain injuries, depending on the type of incident that occurs.

Dog Bites

There are approximately 4.5 million dog bites that occur every year, and not all of them involve animals that have a history of aggressive behavior. A dog may bite you if it has been startled, scared, or threatened.

A dog bite often results in an open, jagged wound that can require urgent medical attention. Some dog bite victims are left with scarring, disfigurement, tissue damage, and/or permanent nerve damage. 

It’s important to seek medical attention immediately after an animal attack to protect yourself against life-threatening infections such as rabies. To recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, physical pain, and psychological suffering, you may be able to file a lawsuit. Florida is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites, and animal owners are liable for injuries regardless of a dog’s history of aggression. In some cases, victims can also file a premises liability lawsuit against the owner of the property where the attack occurred. 

Swimming Pool Accidents

Swimming pool accidents are another common reason premises liability cases arise in Florida. Approximately 4,000 drowning deaths occur every year in the United States, and another 8,000 people suffer non-fatal drowning injuries.  Drownings aren’t the only type of swimming pool accident that causes injuries, however. Slip and fall accidents and diving accidents are also common. 

Traumatic brain injuries, brain damage, spinal cord injuries, lacerations, and broken bones are common injuries that are caused by swimming pool accidents. In Florida, property owners and businesses can be held liable for swimming pool injuries that happen on their premises if the owner or operator’s negligence caused the accident. The absence of safety devices like life preservers, inadequate maintenance or repair of the pool, dangerous decking, lack of supervision, defective pool equipment, and the failure to follow pool safety regulations, like the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act, or the guidelines for public and commercial pools in Florida are examples of negligence. 

Burden of Proof in Florida Premises Liability Cases

Premises liability cases in Clearwater, Florida, follow a legal standard known as the burden of proof. Under this legal standard, a case must have a required amount and quality of evidence to be proven in court. In a civil case, the plaintiff should provide evidence proving his or her version of events.

Defendants may provide the court with evidence to challenge the allegations they’re facing, but they don’t have to meet the burden of proof standard. The burden of proof plaintiffs should meet depends on the lawsuit or claim and the court handling the case.

Steps to Prove Negligence

Proving negligence in your premises liability case in Florida begins with the element of duty of care. In this case, you will need to prove that the occupier or owner of the property owed you a duty of care, depending on your legal status on the property. Your legal status on the property may include invitee, licensee, or trespasser.

Once you show a duty of care existed, you must prove the owner or occupier breached that duty. You must also show the existence of a direct link between the injuries and the breach of duty. Finally, you need to demonstrate that you incurred damages or losses, whether financial or non-economic, from the incident.

Evidence Needed to Prove Premises Liability

Photos and videos can help establish the dangerous condition that might have caused your injury. They can capture the accident scene and portray a lack of safety measures. If taken before the property owner makes any changes to the property, they can help strengthen your case.

Accident reports can also form part of evidence in your premises liability case. That is, if you reported the incident to the management, local authorities, or the property owner. The reports provide details about the accident, your injury, and whether the owner or management knew about the dangerous condition.

You may count on witnesses to corroborate your account of the events that led to the accident, if any were present at the scene. Detailed medical records, including but not limited to the diagnosis report, treatment plan, medical bills, and recovery prognosis, can also help you demonstrate your injuries and their consequences on your life. If the property had previous complaints or incidents, you can use them to suggest a pattern of neglect on the property owner’s side.

Damages in Premises Liability Cases

Medical expenses are one of the most common damages you can recover from a premises liability claim. The reason is most premises liability accidents result in injuries that need urgent and ongoing treatment.

Your medical expenses include doctor’s visits, hospital stays, prescriptions, assistive devices, physical therapy, and more. A lawyer can help you identify these damages and determine if you can be compensated under Florida premises liability law.

If you had a job at the time of the accident, and your injuries prevented you from working, you may also pursue compensation for your lost wages. Your previous pay stubs may help estimate the income lost when you were not working due to the injuries. They can also help estimate future lost income and earning capacity.

In a typical premises liability claim, you can also recover psychological and emotional losses arising from your injury. These losses include loss of enjoyment of activities, emotional anguish, pain, and grief. Other non-economic damages are emotional distress, anxiety, inconvenience, impairment, and disfigurement.

James (Jim) Magazine is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer who has spent his career helping injured victims. Jim is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida since 1990 and is also admitted to practice at the Appellate level and admitted to the United States Supreme Court.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Florida Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions:
Clearwater Bar Association
West Pasco Bar Association

James (Jim) Magazine is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer who has spent his career helping injured victims. Jim is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida since 1990 and is also admitted to practice at the Appellate level and admitted to the United States Supreme Court.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Florida Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions:
Clearwater Bar Association
West Pasco Bar Association