When a fatal accident occurs, justice demands that wrongdoers be held accountable. But the identities of those wrongdoers are not always clear. Where the accident occurred can certainly be a factor in determining who is responsible, and making that determination can be difficult for the next of kin in filing a wrongful death lawsuit. An important question to ask is whether the nature of the property had any role in causing the accident.
Premises liability law holds that a landlord must act reasonably to discover and cure hazards that might be dangerous to guests. When a hidden hazard causes a guest to slip or trip and fall, sustaining an injury, the landlord can be liable if his conduct in the matter was unreasonable. The law is the same for fatal injuries as it is for any kind of physical harm.
Classic examples of hidden hazards are loose floor tiles and uneven pavement. These are conditions that are not open and obvious for a visitor, but should be known to the landlord. Thus, the landlord must take reasonable steps to eliminate the hazard or warn the visitor about it. If the landlord fails in that duty, he is likely going to be liable for the accident.
Wet floors pose a different challenge. Florida Statute § 768.0755 states that for a slip and fall due to “a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment,” the business owner must have had “actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition.” This means that for a spill on a floor that causes a slip and fall, the victim has the burden of proving the spill had been around long enough, or such spills happened often enough, that the business owner should have done something about it before the accident happened.
The fact that an accident happens on someone’s property doesn’t mean the landlord is automatically to blame. Another visitor could have created the hazard, or could have directly caused the accident, for example, by bumping the victim on the stairs and causing a fall.
As a practical matter, where an accident occurred can be important, because businesses and homes have liability insurance to compensate the victim of a premises liability accident. But why an accident happened is, legally, the more important factor.
If you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in a premises liability accident, trust Largey Law to fight aggressively for justice. To schedule an appointment with an experienced wrongful death lawyer, free of charge, contact our office online.