Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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As a general matter, Florida landowners owe a duty to those whom they invite onto their property to keep the area reasonably safe and warn visitors of known hazards that may not be readily apparent. The extent of the duty owed by a landowner depends on several circumstances, including the relationship between the parties. For example, a business visitor such as a customer in a retail establishment is owed a higher duty of care than a social guest.

When a landowner fails to exercise the necessary level of care in maintaining their property, and a guest is injured as a result, the landowner may be held liable for their visitor’s injuries through a Florida premises liability lawsuit. In general, in order to succeed in a premises liability lawsuit, a plaintiff must establish that the property owner knew or should have known about the hazard causing the plaintiff’s injuries.

Importantly, a Florida premises liability plaintiff does not need to prove that the landowner had actual knowledge of the hazard; it is sufficient to show that the defendant landowner had constructive knowledge of the hazard. Constructive knowledge is a legal concept by which a court assumes that a party has knowledge of a certain fact based on the surrounding circumstances.

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In June of this year, six people were seriously injured when the Sand Blaster roller coaster on the Daytona Beach Boardwalk malfunctioned. News reports at the time explained that the coaster derailed shortly after it had re-opened after being closed for several weeks due to the coaster’s poor condition. A recent news report discusses some of the shocking discoveries investigators have uncovered in the few months since the accident.

The Accident

On June 14, several cars on the Sand Blaster derailed, sending two women in the front car plummeting over 30 feet to the ground below. The remaining passengers dangled from the track, waiting to be extricated by emergency workers. At the time, little was known about what caused the accident.

The Investigation

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), which is the government agency responsible for regulating roller coasters, inspects roller coasters twice a year. However, operators are responsible for conducting daily inspections before opening the ride to the public.

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In a recent case, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Florida personal injury case requiring the court to discuss the state’s medical malpractice pre-suit requirement and whether the plaintiff’s case was required to comply with that requirement. Ultimately, the court determined that the defendant failed to establish, as a matter of law, that the plaintiff’s case sounded in medical malpractice, and thus the plaintiff did not need to comply with the pre-suit requirements.Florida’s Pre-Suit Notice Requirement

Under Florida Statute section 766.106(2)(a), prospective medical malpractice plaintiffs must provide notice to those whom they plan to name as defendants. This notice must contain certain information, such as a list of all known health care providers seen by the plaintiff in the past two years and copies of the plaintiff’s medical records. In addition, the plaintiff must obtain an expert affidavit indicating that the plaintiff’s claims have merit.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in this case was a resident at the defendant psychiatric facility. During his stay, another resident removed a metal handrail from the wall, beating the plaintiff in the head and face with the rail. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the facility, arguing that it breached its duty to provide security and train staff on how to recognize and handle emergency situations.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida premises liability lawsuit requiring the court to determine if the lower court was correct to grant the defendant hardware store’s motion for summary judgement. The court ultimately concluded that each of the plaintiff’s two theories was sufficiently supported by the evidence such that they should proceed toward trial. Thus, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision to dismiss the plaintiff’s case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was shopping at the defendant hardware store when an object fell from a shelf behind him and struck him behind the knee. The plaintiff later filed a two-count personal injury lawsuit against the store.

The plaintiff testified that he did not see the item before it struck him. However, he could see it out of the corner of his eye as it was falling from the shelf. After the accident, the plaintiff testified that a store employee showed the plaintiff a trailer hitch and told him that it was the object that had struck him. A representative for the hardware store testified that large, heavy items are not stored on the upper shelves; however, the plaintiff claimed to have seen other trailer hitches up on the top shelf immediately after the incident.

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Earlier this month, six people were hospitalized after a car on the Sandblaster rollercoaster in Daytona Beach’s Mardi Gras Fun Center derailed. According to a local news report, the coaster was carrying ten people in three separate cars when the front car derailed and fell off the tracks.

The front car that derailed fell to the ground, leaving the other two cars dangling over 30 feet in the air. Emergency responders rushed to get the remaining occupants down safely. In all, six people were hospitalized, two with serious injuries.

Another news article interviewed one of the victims who was riding in one of the rear cars, who opened up about her experience. She explained the sensation of dangling from the coaster as she watched her co-worker fall over 30 feet to the ground below. The woman, a mother of two, told reporters that she was in an extreme amount of pain and thought that she was going to die. She suffered nine broken ribs and spinal injuries as a result of the derailment.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida premises liability case brought by a woman who slipped and fell while in a Whole Foods grocery store. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss whether the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient to survive a summary judgment challenge regarding the store’s knowledge of the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s fall.

Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff did present sufficient evidence to give rise to a material issue of fact. Thus, the court held that summary judgment was not proper.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was shopping in a Whole Foods grocery store when she slipped and fell near the self-service food section. The plaintiff, through an interpreter, explained that she was not in a rush at the time and did not see the substance prior to her fall. She claimed that she stepped on a dirty, greasy area of the floor, which caused her to fall. The plaintiff also explained that it seemed as though other people had stepped in the substance. The plaintiff’s son testified as well, consistently with his mother.

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In Florida, lawmakers have determined that lawsuits bringing claims of medical malpractice must comply with additional requirements that are not necessary in Florida personal injury cases bringing claims under a traditional theory of negligence. In so doing, lawmakers put courts in the position of determining which cases should be classified as “medical malpractice cases” and thus be subject to the additional requirements.

A recent decision issued by the Florida Supreme Court provides some much-needed guidance for how courts should sort out personal injury cases that lie on the line between traditional negligence and medical malpractice.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the aunt of a student at a school for the deaf. The student was seriously injured when she was placed in a hold by staff and taken to the ground after staff determined that she was being non-compliant. As a result of her injuries, the student’s left leg was amputated below the knee.

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When someone slips and falls on the property of another party, they may be entitled to recover compensation for the injuries they sustained as a result of the fall through a South Florida premises liability lawsuit. In order to prove a slip-and-fall case in Florida, certain elements must be met, or the court can dismiss the case upon the defendant landowner’s motion.

Premises liability cases are based on the theory of negligence, which allows an accident victim to recover damages from the defendant if they can establish that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, which was violated by some act or omission of the defendant. Furthermore, the plaintiff must establish that it was the defendant’s alleged negligence that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

In regard to the “breach” element, Florida lawmakers have enacted a statute to assist courts in determining if a defendant landowner breached a duty they owed to a visitor. Florida statute 768.0755 applies to cases in which a plaintiff is injured after slipping on a “transitory foreign substance,” and it requires the plaintiff to establish that the landowner have “actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it.”

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida premises liability lawsuit that arose after the plaintiff fell off an examination table in the defendant doctor’s office. The court was tasked with determining if the plaintiff’s lawsuit should be dismissed because she failed to comply with the applicable statute of limitations. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s lawsuit was not a “medical malpractice” lawsuit as defined by the statute and that her claim need not comply with the stricter statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was seeing the defendant doctor so that he could remove a catheter. When the doctor came into the examination room, he instructed the plaintiff to climb onto the examination table. He then pulled out a stool so that she could more easily get atop the table. The plaintiff safely climbed onto the table, and the doctor performed the procedure without any complications.

After the procedure, the doctor told the plaintiff to go to the front desk and make a follow-up appointment the following week. The doctor then left the examination room without pulling out the stool to help the plaintiff descend off the table. The plaintiff attempted to get off the table but fell as she did so.

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The Florida state government wants to encourage people to be active and to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather by rollerblading, skateboarding, mountain biking, or engaging in other recreational activities. However, the government seemed to notice that there were becoming fewer and fewer places to partake in these activities because landowners were prohibiting people from engaging in these recreational activities on their land, due to the liability they may face if someone is injured.

The Florida Legislature’s solution was to pass Florida Statute 316.0085, which provides immunity to certain landowners who open up their property for the public’s use. While there are other recreational use statutes in Florida, this particular statute pertains to rollerblading, skateboarding, mountain biking, and paintballing.

The statute provides broad immunity to government landowners, stating that no government entity or public employee can be held liable for injuries sustained by someone who is rollerblading, skateboarding, mountain biking, or paintballing on government property. At first glance, it would seem that anyone who is injured while engaging in any of those activities would not be able to seek compensation for their injuries; however, that is not necessarily the case.

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