Florida residents and visitors are often at risk for trip and fall accidents, whether they are shopping, dining out, buying groceries, visiting the beach, or engaging in a number of other quintessential Florida activities. When individuals sustain injuries from trip and fall accidents while visiting Florida businesses, the law generally entitles them to seek damages related to their injuries in civil court. Below, we address how visitor status determines one’s eligibility for compensation when an accident occurs, and we also discuss the role of comparative negligence in trip and fall cases.
Visitor Status at Florida Businesses
Premises liability law, the area of law that deals with injuries that occur on another party’s property, broadly divides visitors into three categories: (1) invitees, (2) licensees, and (3) trespassers. Florida law, however, distinguishes between public invitees and business invitees. When you visit a place of business, you are a business invitee—a person who has direct or implicit permission to be on another individual’s property for business purposes. Florida business owners and/or business property owners have a legal duty to maintain a safe environment for invitees and to warn them of known dangers—hazards that the owner knows or should know exist.
An invitee might trip and fall over an item left in a walkway, on a poorly maintained sidewalk, on a loose floor tile, or a wide variety of other items. Florida courts often find owners who fail to protect invitees from these types of dangers liable for any injuries sustained in an accident. Keep in mind that property and business owners have no duty to warn trespassers of such hazards, which often comes into play when an accident occurs after normal business hours.
Comparative Negligence in Florida Trip and Fall Cases
Florida courts apply a pure comparative negligence rule to personal injury cases, including those that stem from trip and fall accidents. Comparative negligence is the notion of shared liability. Once a court determines that a defendant acted negligently, it assigns a percentage fault to each party involved in the case. If the court awards the plaintiff damages, it will reduce the compensation amount according to the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. Accordingly, defendants often attempt to avoid liability by shifting blame to the plaintiff. To do so, defendants make the following claims:
- The business posted a warning sign, but the injured individual ignored it.
- The injured individual tripped and fell because he or she was distracted.
- The injured individual should have seen the hazard because a reasonable person in similar circumstances would have seen it.
A skilled personal injury attorney understands these tactics and how to defend against them. Your attorney will advocate for the best possible outcome given your individual circumstances following a trip and fall accident in a Florida business.
Hire a Skilled Florida Premises Liability Lawyer
If you have been injured in a trip and fall accident at a business in Florida, let an experienced premises liability attorney handle your case. Call the Florida Law Group in Tampa at (813) 463-8880, or contact us online, to schedule your free consultation and to discuss the details of your accident and injuries with one of our experienced litigators.