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Court Determines Gas Station May Be Liable for Delivery Driver’s Injury on Premises

In a recent case, a court decided that a gas station could be held liable after a driver who was delivering gas was injured on the gas station’s property. A tanker driver who had just delivered a load of gasoline to the station was hit by another car and later brought a lawsuit against the other driver, the gas station, and the gas station’s manager.

Gas PumpThe driver had parked his truck at the station in the area for delivering gasoline. He also placed three traffic cones by the truck. He then went into the store to fill out some information about the delivery, made the gas delivery, and went to another part of the station to measure the station’s tank levels as required by the station owner. He took one of the cones with him and placed it in the area where he was measuring the tanks. While he was measuring the levels, he dropped a tank cap into the well and got onto his hands and knees to pick up the cap. As he was doing this, another car backed into him.

A trial court originally found the gas station and its manager were not liable and granted summary judgment in their favor. The court said the driver’s knowledge of the danger was greater than or equal to the gas station’s knowledge of the danger. The driver appealed.

The appeals court reversed the trial court’s decision. It agreed the driver had at least equal knowledge of the potential danger of measuring the tanks at the station. However, the court noted that even though the driver had equal knowledge, the station could still be liable if the station created a hazard that increased the risk of injury by third parties.

In this case, the station may have created a hazard. The driver and other workers complained about having “close calls” with vehicles while delivering gasoline in locations such as this one. The driver was required to measure the oil despite his objections, and doing so placed him at risk. Thus, the appeals court found the gas station did not establish it was entitled to summary judgment, and the case was able to proceed.

Liability of Landowners in Florida

Under Florida law, if a person is injured on a landowner’s premises, generally the normal negligence standard applies. But if an injury is caused by a defect in or a dangerous condition of the premises, a landowner’s duty to others on the premises depends on the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant.

In general, there are three classes of entrants on a property:  a trespasser, a licensee, and an invitee. A trespasser enters the premises without the permission of the owner or without authority to enter. A licensee enters the premises for the purpose of convenience, pleasure, or benefit. An invitee enters the premises for purposes connected with the business of the owner or occupier. A different standard of care is required for each of the different classes of entrants. The type of entrant a plaintiff is depends on the specific facts of each case and is often a question for the jury to decide.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been injured on someone else’s premises, you may be able to recover compensation from the landowner or occupier. With over 65 years of combined experience, our skilled Pembroke Pines premises liability lawyers can pursue a claim against a negligent property owner in Pembroke Pines or elsewhere in South Florida. We vigorously advocate for each client with the attention and tenacity that they deserve. While we aim to resolve each claim through a favorable settlement, we are not afraid to fight for you in the courtroom if necessary. To learn more about your legal rights, contact us online or call us at 954-431-8100.

Related Blog Posts:

Court Finds Farmer May Be Liable for Car Accident Death Caused by Escaped Livestock, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, January 10, 2017.

Police Officers May Be Entitled to Government Immunity Even When Their Actions Cause an Accident, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, January 23, 2017.

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