Accidents happen, but sometimes they could have been prevented. If, for example, you were out on someone else’s property (a restaurant, a boat, a store) and an accident was caused by a spill that should have been cleaned up, or faulty utilities or equipment that should have been replaced or fixed, your injuries are not just due to a random occurrence – they could have been prevented by better management of the property you were on.
In cases like the ones we mentioned, the injured person might be able to file a claim or a lawsuit under the rules of “premise liability.” Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we get from individuals considering filing a claim under the laws of premise liability in Florida:
How Much Should I Claim?
When you file a claim, consider all of the losses or damages that resulted from your injury. Did you pay for medical treatment? Did you lose income from taking time off of work? Did the accident result in emotional or mental distress?
All of these things can be considered in calculating your final number. Consult with a personal injury lawyer when trying to decide how much to file a claim for.
Will I Have to Go to Court?
Most likely, your premises liability case will be settled without going to trial. This is often the easiest route for both the plaintiff and the defendant. The agreement reached is mutual and decided by both parties, rather than a jury. If a mutual agreement cannot be reached, however, you will have to attend a hearing and make your case at trial.
Who Would I Sue?
Premise liability laws put the responsibility on the owner of a property to keep that property safe. So if you were injured by a slip and fall, or by hazards on a property, you should file a claim against the property owner.
What Will I Need to Prove?
In order to win this type of lawsuit, you will need to prove the following:
- The defendant is the owner of the property (and therefore had a duty to keep the property safe and free of hazards)
- The defendant neglected to fulfill his or her duties
- The plaintiff suffered an injury
- The injury was caused (partially or fully) by the defendant’s negligence.
For information on how to gather evidence to support these claims, check out one of our past blog posts.
What If I Am Found at Fault?
Not all cases of premise liability or personal injury are straightforward. Plus, the defendant may try and blame the accident on your negligence (for example, you were texting and not paying attention before your slip and fall, you were trespassing, and so on).
Florida is one of many states that follow the rules of comparative negligence. This means that if you are found to be at fault for any part of your injury, your claim will be adjusted or reduced. For example, if you file a claim for $100,000 and you are found to be 50% at fault for your injuries, you will only receive 50% of your claim, or $50,000.
How Long Do I Have to File the Claim?
In most cases, you will have four years to file a claim. However, if the property is owned by the state of Florida or is a government entity, you will have three years to file the claim. Generally speaking, claims should be filed as soon as possible.
Should I Hire a Lawyer?
An experienced premise liability lawyer can walk you through the process of filing a claim, working out a settlement, and filing a lawsuit if necessary. Florida’s personal injury laws can be tricky, so it is advised to have someone with experience by your side who can represent you in court. If you anticipate filing a premise liability claim, reach out to us today.
About the Author:
A partner at Lawlor, White & Murphey and a distinguished personal injury lawyer, Ben Murphey tries complex disputes that include civil appeals, maritime and admiralty claims, wrongful death, and labor disputes. Mr. Murphey has been recognized for his excellence in the area of personal injury litigation by being rewarded with a 10/10 AVVO Rating and named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for 2010-2013 and Super Lawyers for 2014-2016. Mr. Murphey regularly tries cases in state and federal courts around the country, being admitted to practice before all Florida courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.