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The Elements of a Florida Premises Liability Claim

Landowners have a duty to maintain their property so that it is safe for those whom they invite onto their property. When someone is injured on a landowner’s property, the injured party may be able to seek financial compensation for their injuries from the landowner through a premises liability lawsuit. There are various levels, or standards, of care that a landowner has, depending on the landowner’s relationship with the injured party. For example, the highest duty is owed to an invitee, who is someone that the landowner invites onto their land for business purposes. Most premises liability cases involve duties owed to invitees.

BathtubBefore an injured party is permitted to recover from the landowner, the injured party must prove several elements. Generally speaking, these elements are:

  • That the defendant owned the land where the plaintiff was injured;
  • That the defendant was negligent in maintaining the land;
  • That the plaintiff was injured; and
  • That the plaintiff’s injury was caused at least in part by the defendant’s negligence.

Proving the second element involves showing that the landowner had a duty to protect the invitee and that the duty was somehow breached. A recent case illustrates this concept more clearly.

Goodwin v. Al J. Schneider Company:  The Facts

Goodwin was a guest at the defendant hotel. On his second day at the hotel, he slipped and fell while getting into the shower, injuring his knee. The shower was equipped with a grab-rail; however, there was not a shower mat in place at the time of Goodwin’s fall.

Goodwin filed a premises liability lawsuit against the hotel, claiming that he was an invitee and that the hotel breached its duty to him by failing to provide a shower mat. The trial court hearing the case dismissed Goodwin’s case, holding that since the wet tub was an “open and obvious” hazard, the hotel did not have a duty to protect Goodwin from it. Goodwin appealed.

The appellate court explained that the trial court mistakenly confused the elements of duty and breach. The court noted that there was no question the hotel had a duty to Goodwin to protect him from all harms, both obvious and hidden. However, the relevant question that the court should have considered was whether the hotel took sufficient actions to meet that duty. In other words, was providing the grab-rail sufficient to meet the duty owed to Goodwin? Since the lower court never answered that question, the case was remanded back to the lower court to conduct the proper analysis.

Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of a slip-and-fall accident, and you believe that it was due to the negligence of the owner of the property where the injury occurred, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the South Florida law firm of Cohn & Smith have decades of collective experience evaluating, preparing, and litigating all kinds of personal injury cases, including those arising out of slip-and-fall accidents. Call 954-431-8100 today to set up a free consultation.

Related Blog Posts:

Court Applies “Discovery Rule” in Medical Malpractice Case, Allowing Plaintiff’s Late Filing, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, October 17, 2016.

Court Holds Case Arising from Injury Occurring While Transporting Plaintiff to Hospital Must Comply with Medical Malpractice Requirements, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, November 2, 2016.

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