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Understanding Property Owner Liability


Property owners have certain responsibilities under Florida law. If you go over to someone’s house and get injured, they might be liable for your damages. This is called premises liability law, which applies not only to homeowners but also to small business owners. If you sprain your ankle in an unexpected hole in a neighbor’s yard or slip and fall in a grocery store, the owner might be liable for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other relevant damages.

What the property owner owes to an injured person (whether the owner can be held liable and for how much) depends on how the victim is legally classified. There are three different legal classifications: trespasser, licensee and invitee.

Who Is a Trespasser?

Trespassers are people who aren’t allowed to be on the property, at least at the moment when they were injured. According to the Florida Supreme Court, a trespasser is someone “who enters the premises of another without license, invitation, or other right, and intrudes for some definite purpose of his own, or at his own convenience, or merely as an idler with no apparent purpose, other than perhaps to satisfy his curiosity.”

For example, if you sneak onto your neighbor’s property in the middle of the night, step in a hole and sprain your ankle, you likely won’t succeed in holding him liable for your injuries. Trespassers receive little protection under Florida law. But there are certain exceptions, which is why you should consult with an experienced attorney to determine if you have a viable claim.

Who Is a Licensee?

A licensee is someone who enters a person’s property with the owner’s permission, either express or implied. For example, if your daughter knocks on a neighbor’s door selling Girl Scout cookies, Florida law considers her a licensee. This classification can be confusing, which is why you should always consult with an experienced attorney.

Owners have a duty not to intentionally harm licensees and must fix known dangers or at least provide sufficient warning.

Who Is an Invitee?

An invitee is someone who was invited to be on the property. The person might be a public invitee, who the Florida Supreme Court described as “a person who is invited to enter or remain on land as a member of the public for a purpose for which the land is held open to the public,” or a business invitee, who is “a person who is invited to enter or remain on land for a purpose directly or indirectly connected with business dealings with the possessor of the land.”

Property owners owe the highest duty of care to people they invite onto their property (for business or personal reasons). Owners must protect invitees against known and reasonably ascertainable dangers.

Reach Out to Us for Help

Contact a Miami personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation if you are injured on someone else’s property. We can help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Daytona and Bradenton areas.



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