Fort Lauderdale Premises Liability Attorney
Representing the needs of injured victims throughout Florida
Landowners and others in control of property have a duty to reasonably maintain their premises, including inside of buildings and the surrounding lots, and to remedy dangers or warn of dangers that cannot be fixed. When a dangerous or defective property condition causes you to suffer injuries or lose a loved one, the Fort Lauderdale premises liability attorneys at Boone & Davis, Attorneys at Law use their more than 35 years of practical experience at the negotiating table and in the courtroom to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Types of premises liability
Through skilled and dedicated service, our Fort Lauderdale premises liability attorneys help you recover the compensation you need for all types of accidents caused by dangerous or defective property conditions, including:
- Slip and fall accidents: Slip and fall and trip and fall accidents can be caused by almost any dangerous property condition, from unsafe stairwells to unsafe sidewalks and torn carpeting to slippery pool tiles.
- Elevator and escalator accidents: Accidents involving elevators and escalators can occur because of mechanical malfunctions, negligent maintenance or an uneven steps or flooring, which can cause a trip and fall accident.
- Negligent security: Landowners have a duty to ensure that their premises are safe, including taking appropriate security precautions, such as providing adequate lighting, security cameras, locks or security guards. If you were injured by a third party because of a dangerous property condition that a negligent landowner knew about and failed to remedy through adequate security, our attorneys fight to get the compensation you need.
- Falling merchandise: Many customers are injured when heavy items fall off shelves. Often negligent store employees failed to properly stock the shelves or else they inappropriately put heavy items too far up when the item should have gone on the floor. In extreme cases, entire shelves can collapse, raining items down on unsuspecting victims.
- Hotel or motel mishaps: These businesses must keep their premises reasonably safe for customers. Many people are injured by defective products, such as a chest of drawers that falls over or a hairdryer that electrocutes them.
- Dog bites and animal attacks: Dog owners are strictly liable for dog bites or attacks, even if they were not negligent and regardless of whether the dog has any past history of viciousness. To learn more about recovering from owners and their insurers, please read the information on our dog bites page.
- Drowning: More children ages one to four are killed in fatal drowning accidents in Florida than in any other state, according to statistics from the Florida Department of Health Injury Prevention Program. When a swimming pool drowning occurs in a public community pool, private residential pool, private club, spa, swim camp or school, our attorneys help you identity the negligent parties and hold them responsible.
- Food poisoning: People can become seriously ill when they consume contaminated food at a restaurant, sports arena, or hotel. Although some people might be sick for only a day or two, others can end up on life support in the hospital. Businesses must use reasonable care to ensure their food is safe to serve, and any failure to use sufficient care can result in a lawsuit.
These are only some of the more common premises liability claims in south Florida. If you were injured visiting any person or entity, you should meet with a Fort Lauderdale premises liability attorney to review whether you have a valid case.
Responsibility for a victim’s injuries
In our experience, a victim might end up suing any number of people or entities in a premises liability claim, such as:
- The property owner
- A tenant or renter
- A property management company
- A person squatting on the property
- The dog owner, if this person is different from the property owner
- A company that made negligent repairs to property
- A business vendor or supplier
- The local, state, or federal government
Because victims are often in considerable pain, they do not have the time or resources to carefully untangle liability questions, including who is ultimately responsible for keeping the property safe. Let an experienced Fort Lauderdale premises liability attorney help.
The process of seeking compensation can also be complicated depending on who we identify as the correct defendant. For example, suing a government agency for a defect on public property is much different than suing a tenant or property management company. An experienced Fort Lauderdale premises liability attorney should understand these key differences to better represent their clients.
How we can help
At Boone and Davis, we provide comprehensive service to help you recover compensation for your injuries when they are the result of landowner negligence. These cases present many factual and legal issues that lay people cannot figure out on their own, so a seasoned advocate’s help is necessary.
For example, through the use of our network of experienced engineers and other experts, we determine the cause of the accident and what the landowner or other negligent party could and should have done to prevent the accident. This inquiry isn’t always obvious. For example, if a building catches on fire or the roof falls in, we need to know whether the hazard was something an owner would have known about.
We determine whether there are insurance policies that may apply to your case and cover your injuries, and we guide you through negotiations or a lawsuit to obtain a fair settlement. Insurers, in particular business insurers, aggressively deny claims. They often believe that those without legal representation will settle for much less than they are owed. In our experience, this is sadly the truth, which is why we believe hiring an attorney is critical.
We also identify the correct parties to sue. Some of our clients can sue multiple people, which can increase the odds of receiving reasonable compensation. For example, you might have been bitten by a dog housed at an apartment building. Depending on the facts, you might sue both the dog owner and the landlord or property management company, if a hazard on the property contributed to the dog attack.
Relying on more than 35 years of litigation experience, our Fort Lauderdale premises liability attorneys guide you through each step of your personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, using their legal knowledge, their trial skills and the latest technology to speak to jurors and judges.
Florida’s law on premises liability
Every case begins by understanding the law. In particular, we ask, “What duty did the owner owe to our client?”
It would be easy if Florida required that property owners guaranteed no one would ever get hurt on their property. But the law doesn’t create such a high standard for them because it would be impracticable. Instead, the law creates different tiers of responsibility depending on why the victim was visiting.
Categories of visitors
In particular, Florida law divides visitors into three categories:
- An invitee is literally invited to enter the property. The invitation can be explicit—“stop by at 4:00 this Friday”—or it can be implied, such as a business opening its doors. A public invitee is invited to enter public land as a member of the general public. Think of a park or government building which is open for people to enter. A business invitee, by contrast, enters land to conduct business with the owner. Think of a customer entering a store or business.
- A licensee has permission to enter the property but does so for his or her own convenience. Someone stopping by to visit you at home would probably qualify as a licensee.
- A trespasser has no right to enter and/or remain on property. Children who trespass are a separate category.
Duties owed to visitors
The duties owed by a property owner depends on the visitor’s status:
- Invitee: The landowner owes invitees a duty to keep the property reasonably safe by using reasonable care. They also have a duty to give warning of any hidden dangers or defects which even a reasonably careful invitee wouldn’t discover on their own.
- Licensee: A property owner owes licensees much less protection than invitees. Essentially, owners cannot wantonly injure the licensee or intentionally expose him to danger. They must also warn the licensee of dangers that are not reasonably discoverable.
- Trespasser: Because trespassers have no right to be on the property, the owner only owes them a duty not to injure them intentionally or wantonly. However, if the owner discovers the trespasser, the trespasser becomes essentially a licensee and must be warned of hidden dangers.
As mentioned above, children are a unique category of trespasser. The law recognizes that children are naturally curious and might be drawn to trespass if they see something interesting on the property. This is called the “attractive nuisance” doctrine. Under Florida Statute § 823.08, attractive nuisances include discarded refrigerators, iceboxes, washers, dryers, or other units with doors. But this list is not exclusive and can include other items like swimming pools or trampolines.
Even if the child is a trespasser, a property owner might be liable for any injury caused by the attractive nuisance. We need to take a 360-degree view of the entire situation. For example, the law considers different factors such as how costly it would be to make the nuisance safe and whether the owner knew that children were likely to trespass.
Open and obvious dangers
Sometimes, defendants will claim that they cannot be held responsible for an injury because the defect was so obvious that the victim should have avoided it. This doctrine can come into play when business invitees are injured on property by a defect that they claim is hidden. For example, they might not know tiles on the floor are loose or that a shelf holding items for sale is unsteady.
In response, the business owner might claim the defect was so open and obvious a warning was unnecessary. However, this is only a partial defense. It relieves owners of a duty to warn invitees of defects. But a property owner still owes an invitee a duty to keep the premises reasonably safe, which might mean fixing the hazard.
It might be upsetting, but some defendants actually blame the victim for contributing to their injuries, and the law recognizes this as a valid defense. Under our state’s comparative fault doctrine, a victim’s compensation gets reduced by their percentage of fault. So we anticipate defendants and their lawyers taking a close look at our client’s actions in the moments leading up to the accident.
For example, you might have forgotten to lock the window to your apartment the evening that it was broken into. This is a negligent act, and it can come into play if you allege your apartment building lacked adequate security. The same is true if you weren’t watching where you were going and crashed into shelves in a store.
What to look for in a premises liability lawyer in Fort Lauderdale
We encourage anyone who thinks they might have a claim to schedule a free consultation with our law firm. This meeting gives our clients a chance to ask questions about their case and for us to quickly analyze the validity of the claim. We might need more information, so our opinions are tentative. But we can often size up whether a case is worth pursuing.
We encourage all clients to consider how comfortable they feel with the attorney they met with. Communication is central to the attorney-client relationship. Ask yourself if you felt comfortable asking questions and whether you understood the answers. Clients need to feel comfortable communicating with legal counsel so that they can actively participate in the case.
Contact our Fort Lauderdale premises liability attorneys when dangerous premises cause injuries
Since 1981, Boone & Davis, Attorneys at Law has been a law firm that injured victims in Fort Lauderdale and throughout Florida rely on for the experienced representation they need and the open communication they deserve. To learn more about our services, contact us online or by calling 954-566-9919 anytime for a free, no-obligation consultation. We never charge fees — not even for our expenses — unless and until we recover for you.