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Florida Court Discusses Liability for Falls Caused by Obvious Hazards

In general, business owners can be held accountable for injuries caused by hazardous conditions on their premises. However, there are occasional exceptions, such as when a hazard poses a clear threat; in such instances, the property owner may be able to avoid liability. Recently, a Florida court clarified a property owner’s responsibilities in the context of open and obvious hazards. If you were hurt in a fall on someone else’s property, it is in your best interest to talk to a  Florida personal injury lawyer about what you must show to recover damages.

Details of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff went to the defendant’s boathouse to have his boat serviced. He stepped on the sea wall as he walked to the dock to board the boat. Unfortunately, he landed on a divot and his foot slipped out from under him. He then fell and suffered injuries. He subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, asserting that the defendant’s negligent refusal to repair the sea wall caused him to fall and sustain injuries. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims.  The court granted the motion and the plaintiff appealed. The trial court’s decision was overturned on appeal.

Liability for Damages Caused by Clearly Dangerous Conditions

The main issue on appeal was whether the defendant was liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because the condition that produced them was open and obvious. The court emphasized that, in most cases, a company owner has no need to safeguard a customer entering their property from dangers that they are aware of or that are so evident and obvious that they could reasonably be expected to notice.

However, the court noted that the outcomes differ where the customer’s harm is foreseen by the property owner. Property owners are not liable for injury produced by open and obvious conditions unless the owner might expect harm despite the fact that the condition is visible. Furthermore, the court stated that the question is not whether the condition is obvious, but rather whether the hazards posed by the condition are obvious, taking into account the circumstances at the time the accident that generated the harmful condition happened. In the matter at hand, the court decided that there was a factual dispute over whether the defendant knew or should have known that the condition would cause harm. As a result, it overturned the trial court’s decision.

Meet with a Seasoned Attorney in Florida  

Business owners have a responsibility to keep their facilities reasonably safe, and if they fail to do so, they may be held liable for any harm that occurs. If you are hurt in an accident on another person’s property, it is in your best interest to speak with an attorney about your possibilities for recovering damages. The trusted Florida personal injury attorneys of Cardoso Law, PLLC, can advise you of your rights and aid you in pursuing the best result possible under the facts of your case. You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at  (850) 466-2073 to set up a conference.

 

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