The location of a slip and fall accident is important because property owners owe different levels of responsibility to those victims who suffer injuries due to an accident on their property. Business property owners, personal property owners, and government entities who own property all have different duties of care and obligations to victims who suffer injuries from slip and fall accidents on their property.
Business Owners Have a Legal Duty to Maintain Safe Premises
If a business opens to the public, they are required to maintain their property in a safe condition. If a slip and fall accident occurs at a grocery store, department store, or another business establishment, the property owner may be liable and responsible for any injuries or losses suffered by a victim due to a dangerous or hazardous condition.
Property owners are required to ensure their property, sidewalks, and parking lots are free from hazards that may cause injury to customers. Inside the store, property owners are required to ensure patrons do not fall due to poor lighting, debris in the walkways, or spilled liquids that may make the floors slippery. Even if a property owner did not directly create a hazardous condition, if they knew (or should have known) about the dangerous condition and failed to warn their customers or remove the danger, they may be liable for the injury suffered from a slip and fall accident.
Obvious Hazards May Not Make a Property Owner Liable
In some cases, there are certain dangerous conditions so obvious that any customer should have taken reasonable steps to avoid the unsafe area. If there is a large display or water fountain in the middle of a walking area, a reasonable person would have taken actions and used reasonable caution to protect themselves from such an obvious item.
Customers and patrons are not allowed to hold a business owner responsible for every possible accident that could occur, especially those a reasonable person would have avoided. A lawyer can help victims determine whether they can pursue a property owner for damages.
People Injured on Private Property Can Pursue the Owner
Another reason why the location of a slip and fall accident is important is in most cases, a private property owner has a legal obligation to guests (legally known as licensees) to ensure their property is maintained in a safe, hazard-free condition. If a guest of a private property owner slips and falls—depending on circumstances—the property owner may be liable if there was a dangerous and hazardous condition they either failed to warn their guest about or failed to address to ensure no injuries occurred. In these cases, the court will look to see if the property owner knew (or should have had reason to know) there was a hazardous condition on their property that could have led to a slip and fall accident causing injury.
Trespassers Cannot Pursue Property Owners for Damages
No matter the location, a business or private property owner has no duty or obligation regarding unsafe conditions on their property to an illegal trespasser (as stated in FL § 768.075). If a person does not have the legal right to be on a property, they cannot file a claim against the property owner for any injuries or losses suffered from a slip and fall accident.
There are some exceptions to this rule, including the attractive nuisance doctrine, which states if a property owner has something on their property that would attract small children—such as a swimming pool—and a child is injured on the property due to failure to keep the area locked, the property owner may be liable for injuries or losses.
If a slip and fall accident occurred on government property, there is a strict deadline (known as the statute of limitations) that requires an injured person to file a claim or lose their legal right to compensation for injuries. In Florida, victims have three years under FL § 768.21(6)(a). Additionally, many government entities only allow a certain amount of compensation (called caps) for victims of slip and fall accidents on government property. If you suffered injuries due to a slip and fall accident on government property, there are complex steps you will need to take to ensure your legal rights are protected.
Contact a Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer
Where a slip and fall accident occurred directly impacts a victim’s ability to obtain compensation for injuries and losses. If you suffered injuries or losses related to a slip and fall accident on a business, residential, or government property, contact Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers at (855) 529-0269.
We can help you understand your rights and build a personal injury case—no matter where your injuries occurred.
For a free legal consultation, call (855) 529-0269