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Florida Court Discusses Demonstrating Liability for the Acts of a Third Party

Parties will generally not be found liable for harm caused by the criminal or negligent acts of another individual. There are some exceptions, though, such as when a business owner knows or reasonably should know that a customer has dangerous propensities but fails to prevent them from harming other customers. Recently, a Florida court discussed what evidence a plaintiff seeking to recover damages from a business for injuries caused by another party’s harmful act must produce to demonstrate liability, in a matter in which it ruled in favor of the defendant. If you suffered losses due to someone else’s negligent acts, you might be owed damages, and you should confer with a skilled Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

Allegedly, a cruise ship owned by the defendant docked in the Bahamas. The plaintiff, a passenger on the ship, was walking down the gangway when a man in front of her charged and swung at a woman who was another passenger. The woman fell into the plaintiff, which caused that plaintiff to fall off the gangway. She struck her head on the pier on her way down and sustained a concussion and traumatic brain injury. She later developed debilitating migraines.

It is reported that the plaintiff then filed a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages from the defendant cruise ship operator. The plaintiff asserted that the man punched the woman in the head shortly before the incident, and a worker on a nearby cruise ship saw the incident and gestured to a worker on the defendant’s ship, and therefore the defendant was negligent for failing to prevent the man from harming anyone further. A bench trial was conducted, after which the court found in favor of the defendant.

Demonstrating Liability for the Harmful Acts of a Third Party

The court explained that whether the defendant was deemed negligent and therefore liable for the plaintiff’s harm hinged on whether it had notice that the man presented a risk of harm. In other words, a cruise ship operator has a duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. In order to impose liability for breaching this standard of care, then, a plaintiff must prove that a cruise ship had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition.

The court further elaborated that, without evidence that the defendant had notice of the condition that created the risk, namely the man’s violent acts, and sufficient time to address the condition, the court could not impose liability as a matter of law. As the court found that the evidence presented by the plaintiff failed to demonstrate the defendant had actual or constructive notice, the court found in favor of the defendant.

Speak to a Seasoned Florida Attorney

Cruises are generally enjoyable experiences, but when cruise lines fail to protect their customers from known dangers, they should be held accountable for any damages that arise out of their negligence. If you were hurt on a cruise, it is smart to speak to a personal injury lawyer to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue. The seasoned Florida attorneys of Cardoso Law, PLLC, are well-versed in what it takes to prove the liability of careless parties, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact us through our form online or by calling us at  (850) 466-2073 to set up a meeting.

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