Florida homeowners, private property owners, and commercial property owners
are subject to liability provisions under
premises law. All Florida residents share certain common responsibilities for the general
safety of any person who enters their property including a home, retail
store, or office. Homeowners and landowners are responsible for maintaining
the conditions of each square foot of a lot.
In most cases, homeowners have a duty to repair any known hazards, such
as loose stairs or broken railings. If a homeowner knows of such a danger
and must wait to make the repair, he/she must cordon off the danger or
posts signs to warn any visitors of the condition. Landowners must keep
their property free of obvious hazards and dangerous conditions and may
not set traps capable of inflicting serious bodily injury.
Premises liability extends over all areas of property ownership. It involves
any injuries from negligent conditions on the premises of hotels, apartment
complexes, shopping centers, and office buildings. All property owning
entities and lessees share some liability. If someone is injured on a
commercial property, damages could be apportioned to business lessees
and the property owner.
Classifications of Visitor – Separated by Property Owner Responsibility
Private and commercial property owners are responsible for the varying
levels of safety for anyone who enters their property according to three
different classifications of visitors:
Business Invitees: For businesses and stores, any person entering the premises for purposes
related to that business are considered to be business invitees. Repairmen
and utility workers fall under this classification for a homeowner. A
homeowner bears the duty to inspect for dangerous conditions that could
cause injury to business invitees.
Licensees: This term applies to homeowners who entertain guests. Friends or family
members, whether invited or uninvited, who are on the property for social,
non-business purposes are licensees. A person visiting a family member
at his/her place of employment could also be considered to be a licensee
in the event he/she is hurt and files a personal injury claim. A property
owner bears the duty to repair any unsafe conditions as well as an obligation
to warn visitors of known dangers.
Trespassers: A person without permission to be on private land still has basic rights.
Property owners may not set up intentional booby traps capable of deadly
force to deter trespassers. If a property owner discovers a trespasser,
he/she does have a duty to warn him/her of any known dangers otherwise
undetectable through ordinary observation.
Special Exceptions for Children
Florida law provides special protection to children on the basis that they
are not able to decipher between right and wrong. This exception is called
the attractive nuisance doctrine. This doctrine applies specifically to
homeowners with swimming pools, trampolines, or old appliances or cars
on their property.
These conditions can entice curious children. Homeowners are responsible
for removing or otherwise locking and securing these items. Locks, perimeter
fences, and secured gates are acceptable means in most cases. If a child
is injured or killed after falling into an unfenced swimming pool, that
property owner could be held liable for damages.