Deciding When to Sue a Business for Negligence
In today’s world, few people are wholly self-sufficient, and in fact, most people rely heavily on the services and products provided by a wide variety of businesses on a daily basis. Because these businesses work with the public, they unavoidably face the risk of customers filing personal injury suits. It is worth keeping in mind that given how much interaction the average person has with various retailers and manufacturers, at some point nearly everyone will have a bad experience. Whether it is receiving the wrong product, having a product break, or shipping snafus, there will be a point when a business leaves a customer dissatisfied, but when does a bad experience rise to the level that it is worth contemplating suing the business for negligence? While a lot of consumer-based business is conducted online, those companies that offer brick-and-mortar stores for customers to visit typically present consumers with a greater risk of injury. An accident at a Key West resort left a man paralyzed from the neck down after he dove from the resort’s dock into shallow water and hit his head. He is suing a number of companies connected with the resort on grounds that warnings should have posted or barriers erected to prevent entry into the water. This type of negligence falls under premises liability law, which is the basis for many personal injury lawsuits against companies. An overview of two types of situations where premises liability would apply to a negligence claim will follow below.
All property owners have a general responsibility to keep the grounds in a reasonably safe condition so that visitors will have little chance of being injured, especially if there are hazards on the premises that are not immediately identifiable. However, the degree to which an owner has a duty to protect a person against injury largely depends on why the person was on the property in the first place. If someone is trespassing or entering a property for their convenience as an uninvited licensee, the owner is only prohibited from intentionally setting traps or recklessly allowing dangerous conditions to exist, but otherwise, is not liable for injury. Owners owe invitees, on the other hand, a duty not only to keep the premises safe, but also to correct and/or warn about known dangers. Thus, if the property has features such as ongoing repairs, open pits, or unstable structures, at the very least, the owner must post adequate warnings or install barriers to keep people away from danger. Failure to do so means the owner may be liable for negligence and responsible for compensating a person who was injured.
Slip and Fall
When it comes to slips and falls, the same rules apply that require businesses open to the public to the keep the areas clean and safe. However, because establishments can have hundreds of people walking through their premises daily, and it may be harder to track when walking surfaces present a hazard, Florida has a special law that governs these situations. If a person is injured due to slipping on a substance on the floor, he/she must show the business had actual or constructive knowledge of the danger in order to hold it liable. Constructive knowledge includes:
- the dangerous condition existed for a length of time that a business should have known about it if it had exercised ordinary care; or
- the condition was foreseeable because it occurred regularly.
Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you suffered an injury due to the carelessness of a business, talk to a personal injury about your options for suing owners. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado handles a large variety of personal injury cases and will examine the merits of your case. Contact us for a free consultation.