According to the Polk County Fire Rescue, one person died on June 1, 2013 after a fire broke out in a small apartment complex. Another man sustained serious injuries when an explosion damaged an apartment spreading the fire further. The building sustained water and smoke damage. Additionally, 11 residents were displaced by the fire. County and state authorities are conducting investigations for the cause of death and fire.
The term premises liability refers broadly to landlords’ liability for injuries to others on their property, often involving slip and fall accidents or dog bite scenarios on residential, commercial or government property. A landlord is not expected to insure its tenants or occupants’ safety absolutely, but it is obligated to keep the premises reasonably safe. Safety is a complex, fact-specific standard that depends, though not decisively, on who gets hurt. The injured person may be categorized as an:
- Invitee — Someone on the premises at the express or implied behest of a property owner, like a supermarket customer, social guest or sporting event fan. The owner needs to maintain the property in a safe condition and correct dangers the defendant knew or should have known about.
- Licensee — An individual on the property with the explicit or unstated permission of the owner, but with no business interest. For example, someone breaking a large bill at a 7-11. Owners owe them a greater duty than trespassers, but less than invitees.
- Trespasser — An owner owes a limited duty to prevent only intentional or reckless injuries to a person who enters the property without any authority.
Under Florida law it is crucial for the plaintiff to prove the landlord had actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition. If the condition existed for ample time and there was no inspection or remedy, the landlord may be deemed on “constructive” notice — whether in the case of criminal activity or a sinkhole on the premises.
A landlord must periodically inspect rental properties for unsafe conditions and take reasonable precautions to prevent injuries from known conditions or those that should be known. His responsibility includes common areas like garages or stairwells, but does not apply as strictly to rented apartments.
Selecting knowledgeable Florida premises liability lawyers may be crucial to your injury case. Contact the Law Offices of Cohn & Smith, PA for a free consultation.