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Premises Liability in Florida: A Primer

Premises liability is a frequently utilized, but not often understood legal claim in civil law. This area of the law deals with injuries or accidents that occur on the property of another. This extends far beyond tripping and falling on someone else’s land; it can include inadequate security, hazing incidents, or negligent exposure cases where people are subjected to hazardous substances such as lead or mold. Every person or company who owns, occupies, or manages property has a legal duty to keep their visitors safe. The extent of that duty is dependent on many things, specifically, whether the visitor was invited.

Licensees and invitees

The Florida Bar Journal offers a comprehensive overview of the types of considerations present in premises liability actions. The predominant considerations surrounds the “kind” of property, and the classification of the visitor. If I own a home and I invite you over for dinner, you are seen as a “licensee” under the eyes of the law. In short, this means I have a legal obligation to tell you of any known hazards on my property. If the bathroom sink dispenses scalding hot water, or there are two steps missing on the back porch, I can be held liable for injuries caused by these hazards if I fail to tell you about them. Consequently, if I did not invite you over and you are trespassing on my land and fall into a hole, my legal responsibilities to you are very different.

A higher standard exists in places like restaurants, stores, and other places open to the public. Not only does a landowner or manager have an obligation to warn visitors of adverse conditions, but they have a continuing duty to inspect the premises for possible dangers. Where social visitors at a person’s home are called licensees, people coming to a store or public area are called “invitees.” People owe invitees a higher standard of care than they do to licensees.

For example, it is not enough for a grocery store employee to clean up a spill; they have to 1) post something to notify customers the floor is now wet and may be a hazard and 2) check throughout the day to ensure the premises is free of other spills or hazards that could potentially be harmful to customers. The idea of the increased duty of a store owner stems from the fact they hold themselves out to be a place for the public to frequent. The public is essentially always invited to come to their premises, and the owner then has a responsibility to those people who take advantage of the invitation.

What Do These Classifications Mean For Me?

If you or someone you know has been injured or killed on the property of another, the liability of the property owner, tenant, or manager may depend on whether there was a licensee or invitee relationship between the parties. Regardless, both classifications are designed to ensure that visitors have rights when present on another’s property. Our knowledgeable, experienced premises liability attorneys at the Miami offices of Alan Goldfarb P.A. can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We are familiar with your rights and the responsibilities landowners owe to you, and will work hard to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. If you have questions about a potential premises liability lawsuit, please contact us today.

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