Premises liability is a principle of law that makes owners and occupiers of real property legally responsible for certain personal injuries that occur on the property. Premises liability can apply to injuries arising from a variety of causes, including slip and fall, falling objects, inadequate security, hazardous materials, animal bites, fire and so on.
When Does Premises Liability Apply?
Generally speaking, premises liability can apply if:
1. The defendant either owns or occupies the land or premises where the injury occurred;
2. The plaintiff was an invitee or licensee on the premises, such as a customer or guest (traditionally, trespassers are not protected by premises liability, though trespass is not an absolute defense); and
3. The defendant somehow acted negligently or wrongfully, for example, by knowing that there was a dangerous condition on the property and failing to correct it.
The liability of a defendant in a premises liability case is based on the actual damages to the injured party, which will usually include the plaintiff’s physical injuries, pain and suffering, medical costs and loss of income. In extreme cases, punitive damages can also be awarded, but that is rare.
Comparative Fault in Premises Liability Cases
A common defense to a premises liability claim is that the plaintiff was at least partially at fault. For example, the defendant might argue that the plaintiff failed to use reasonable care to avoid injury.
Most states, including Florida, have a “comparative fault” system which provides that the injured party’s damages will be reduced by the percentage that his or her own negligence contributed to the injury. For example, if the injured party is found to be 50% responsible for the accident and the total damages are $1,000, the injured party will only be entitled to receive $500.
Premises liability is a complicated area which can involve liability in substantial amounts, even into the millions of dollars. The amount of damages is limited by statute in cases of premises injury claims against the state, but there are no such statutory limits in cases against individuals or corporations. Therefore, whether you are a plaintiff or a defendant, you must find experienced and capable attorneys to guide you through any premises liability case.
If you or a loved were injured on another person’s property, call Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A., Attorneys at Law for your free consultation at 727-478-4125.