“Premises liability” is the basis for many personal injury claims in Fort Lauderdale. Anytime someone gets an injury on another’s property because of a dangerous element on that property, he/she may have the right to file a premises liability claim. Slip and falls are the most common reasons for this type of claim in Fort Lauderdale, but any accident that results in guest injury or death could qualify. The expert lawyers at the Law Offices of Chalik & Chalik are here to guide you through premises liability lawsuits in the Sunshine State.
Compensation Available in Premises Liability Cases
One of the most common questions we receive from potential clients is, “What is my case worth?” Our answers differ according to the unique circumstances in each individual claim. In general, the more serious the accident and severe the injuries, the more the courts will award the injured victim. The amount of your claim might be entirely unique, but the types of damages that may be available stay the same from case to case. They are:
- Past and future medical expenses. Seek recovery for your past accident-related medical bills, including surgeries, treatments, and hospital stays, as well as any future expenses you will require to recover.
- Pain and suffering. Your attorney can help you demonstrate the emotional and non-economic impacts your premises liability accident had on you to recover these damages. A pain and suffering award could cover physical pain, emotional suffering, psychological harm, mental anguish, and lost quality of life.
- Lost wages and earning capacity. If you had to stay home from work to recover after an accident on someone else’s property, you could qualify for reimbursement of your lost wages.
- Legal fees. There is a chance the courts will include compensation to cover the court costs and legal fees it took to bring your premises liability claim. Our law firm will only charge attorney’s fees if we win you financial compensation.
- Wrongful death damages. If an unsafe property led to the death of a loved one, your family could be eligible for compensation for the loss of consortium, loss of guidance and companionship, lost inheritance, future earnings, and funeral/burial expenses.
The Florida civil courts may also award punitive damages if the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent, criminal, or particularly malicious. If, for example, the defendant set a booby trap to intentionally inflict harm on a salesperson, the courts might award the injured victim additional punitive damages to punish the defendant. Currently, Florida caps punitive damages in premises liability claims to $500,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages (whichever is greater).
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Proving Fault in a Premises Liability Case
In Florida, property owners are responsible for keeping their premises reasonably safe for visitors, according to expected standards. These standards differ according to the type of visitor. Invitees require the highest standards of care, while licensees demand a slighter lesser duty of care. Owners do not owe trespassers any duties other than not to intentionally cause injuries. Understanding your classification on a property is the first step in proving your claim.
The main element needed to prove the fault of a property owner in a premises liability claim is negligence. The injured victim must prove not only did a hazardous element exist on a property, but that the person in charge of the property’s safety knew or reasonably should have known about the condition yet did not remedy it in a timely manner. Proving this may require investigating the business, interviewing witnesses, and hiring experts. Hiring a lawyer is the best way to prove fault in a premises liability case.
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Florida’s Premises Liability Laws
Florida Statutes Section 768.0755 describes the state’s main premises liability law. It states a business will be liable for a customer’s slip and fall injuries only if the victim can prove the business knew or should have known about the condition and should have acted to remedy the issue. This burden of proof can be difficult for injured victims without a lawyer’s help.
In Florida, you have four years from the date of your premises liability accident to file a claim against a negligent property owner. Missing this deadline will generally mean giving up your right to any compensation. Aside from these two main premises liability laws, several other state and federal statutes may impact your claim according to the situation.
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Common Grounds for Property Liability Claims
All property owners or leasers owe certain duties of care to those that enter the property with express or implied invitation to do so. Property owners even owe duties to trespassers in Fort Lauderdale if the trespasser is a child. These duties include clearing the property of recognized hazards, exposing unknown dangers, and warning guests of existing hazards on the land. A property owner must do as much as possible to reasonably prevent injury to invitees and licensees. Otherwise, he or she could be liable for subsequent accidents. Common premises liability incidents include:
- Slip and falls. A slip, trip, or fall at work, the grocery store, or in a parking lot could result in multiple injuries. Landowners must take care to clear walkways of clutter, repair uneven surfaces, sweep icy parking lots, remove obstacles, provide ample lighting, and clean spills right away. These are all common causes of harmful slip and fall accidents.
- Swimming pool accidents. A swimming pool is an “attractive nuisance,” or a dangerous property feature that’s attractive to children by nature. Pool owners have high standards of care when it comes to safeguarding pools from curious children. They must install fencing or other barriers to prevent drowning accidents. Failure to maintain a pool, install proper warning signs, and keep it safe for the neighborhood is negligence.
- Dog bites. A potentially dangerous dog is an unsafe property condition under Florida Statutes Chapter 767. Dog owners may be liable for injuries relating to a dog attack whether the owner knew of prior aggression in the pet. Failure to prevent dog bites by restraining the animal or taking other measures, resulting in someone’s injury, may be negligence under premises liability laws in Florida.
- Acts of violence. Lack of security on a premises can lead to criminal and violent acts such as assault, robbery, and rape. It is a property owner’s duty to research the surrounding area and learn local crime rates. If there is a foreseeable risk of crime, the owner must take steps such as installing security cameras, hiring guards, lighting parking lots, and posting signs to prevent customer injury.
Other circumstances that could lead to lawsuits include fires, floods, toxic substances, elevator/escalator accidents, and amusement park incidents. Many different harms all fall under the umbrella of premises liability in Fort Lauderdale. If you aren’t sure whether your recent injury makes you eligible to file a claim against a property owner, talk with one of our Fort Lauderdale premises liability lawyers. We will listen to what happened and give you our professional opinion on whether your case has merit in the civil courts. You could receive compensation for your accident-related injuries. Call the Law Offices of Chalik & Chalik today.
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