A basic legal principle holds that when a person lawfully enters any property, he or she may expect that the property has been adequately maintained to ensure the safety of all. At the very least, any safety hazards should be clearly indicated with warnings visible at a distance sufficient for a visitor to avoid the danger. If you are injured due to a property owner’s neglect of repairs or failure to appropriately caution visitors of risks, you may suddenly find yourself in need of medical care, domestic help, and financial assistance due to lost income. In such cases, it can be helpful to seek the advice of a Fort Lauderdale Premises Liability Lawyer.
What Types of Cases Does a Premises Liability Attorney Handle?
Unsafe property conditions can cause many types of injuries. Some of the most common are:
- Slips and falls due to conditions like oil slicks, ice or damaged stairs
- Bites, scratches or other injuries caused by aggressive pets
- Swimming pool accidents, especially those involving children
- Injuries caused by unrepaired damage, such as a broken window
- Attack or assault on a commercial property due to insufficient security measures
The last category is the most complex, the subject of major disagreements in the legal community. Each type of case carries its own rules for the determination of liability. The advice of a skilled attorney who has handled cases similar to yours can be invaluable.
Who Is Legally Responsible in a Premises Liability Case?
Florida property owners or designated residents (for example, renters of a house) are expected to exercise “reasonable care” of their properties. That means they should be attentive to the condition of the building and grounds, perform timely repairs, and give a clear warning to visitors when a safety hazard exists. Naturally, such a hazard must have existed long enough to afford the owner or resident a reasonable opportunity to observe it. Assessment of what is “reasonable” and determination of responsibility can quickly become complicated; entire books have been written on the subject of property owner responsibility. An experienced attorney can help you understand how the statutes apply to your situation.
In all premises liability cases, Florida law operates on a principle of “pure comparative negligence,” meaning that the responsibility for an injury may be shared by the property owner and the injured person. If your injury occurred while you were sending a text message, and you had entered an area clearly marked as potentially hazardous, you may be found partly at fault for the accident. Awarded damages are adjusted according to comparative negligence. For example, if it is determined that appropriate damages amount to $10,000, but you were found to be 40% at fault, then you will receive only $6,000 (60% of the total) from the property owner.
Is There a Time Limit to Hire an Attorney and File a Case?
Florida’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases, including those involving premises liability, specifies that a case must be initiated within four years after the date of the injury. Exceptions exist that either shorten or lengthen the allowed timeframe. It is a good idea to consult with a Fort Lauderdale premises liability lawyer as soon after the accident as you can. Call Lavent Law at 305-440-0450 and we will be happy to discuss your case.