Premises liability is the area of the law that holds landlords responsible when hidden hazards they knew or should have known about cause harm to visitors. At Vassallo, Bilotta & Davis, a common type of premises liability case we handle is a slip and fall. A sudden fall onto a hard surface can produce painful, disabling injuries. But even with clear evidence of harm, slip and fall cases can be very difficult to prove. In addition, our premises liability lawyers assist victims of dog attacks that have left victims maimed and traumatized. A victim of either type of incident is likely to need extensive medical treatment and may never fully recover from the physical pain and emotional trauma. Fortunately, you can rely on our knowledge, experience and determination as we work to produce the best result possible in your case.
In a premises liability case, as with other types of personal injury cases, a plaintiff must prove four legal elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Under Florida law, a landlord’s duty of care differs depending on the victim, who could belong to any of three categories:
Although there are exceptions, a victim of a slip and fall or other premises liability accident who is an invitee has a much greater chance of recovering compensation for injury. An employee who suffers a slip and fall at a workplace is generally limited to workers’ compensation, unless a negligent third party was somehow at fault.
A landlord breaches his duty of care when he fails to act reasonably with respect to a hazard that he knew or should have known about. Hidden hazards that can cause injury can include:
Timing is often a factor when determining whether a landlord was reasonable. If the victim can prove the hazard existed long enough for a reasonably vigilant landlord to discover and act upon, the victim must then show the landlord’s actions were not likely to prevent the type of accident the victim suffered.
If the victim can prove a breach, there are two remaining elements:
These elements are also difficult to prove, because victims may have pre-existing conditions or might have suffered an injury in a subsequent event. To strengthen the case, a victim should always seek immediate medical treatment.
If you’ve had a slip and fall, a trip and fall, were injured by falling merchandise in a store, or suffered any other premises liability injury, you need professional representation to help you build a strong case and recover the full compensation you deserve.
Florida’s dog bite statute, FLSA 767.04, imposes strict liability when a dog bites a person in a public place or lawfully in a private place. So, if you were invited to someone’s home and their dog bit you without provocation, you are entitled to compensation. But your case would be different from a slip and fall, because you don’t have to prove the landlord was negligent in his failure to protect you from the dog. You don’t have to prove the landlord knew or should have known the dog was likely to bite. All you have to do is prove you’d been invited onto the property and the dog bit you.
In contrast, a trespasser could not sue under a strict liability standard. A dog owner could also defend a claim by proving the victim somehow provoked the dog.
It’s important to note the dog bite statute only applies to bites. A large dog can cause harm by jumping up on a person or knocking their legs out from under them as it runs by. In such cases, the victim can sue for the injuries but must be able to prove the landlord was negligent in his handling of the dog.
Florida law allows victims up to four years to sue for a dog bite, but only two years to sue for another type of injury. However, in either case, you should contact an attorney as soon as you know you’ve been injured to make sure your case is as strong as possible.
Vassallo, Bilotta & Davis assists victims of slip and fall accidents and dog bites throughout our area in claims for compensation. Please call 561-471-2800 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation at one of our offices, located in West Palm Beach and Stuart.