Premises Liability Attorneys
Dedicated Pensacola Slip and Fall Attorneys, Dog Bite Lawyers
It is easy to dismiss slipping or tripping on someone else’s property as minor — until it happens to you. Many visitors suffer injuries — fractures, head injuries and even death — every year as the result of businesses and homes that are not kept reasonably safe. This can result in major medical expenses, and extensive amount of time missed from work, and untold amounts of physical and emotional pain-and-suffering.
When an injury results from improperly maintained commercial, residential or public property or from a dog bite, the Pensacola premises liability lawyers at Whibbs Stone Barnett are here to help hold the owner or tenant responsible for the damages.
Our attorneys have extensive experience in this area of the law, and we thoroughly analyze the specifics of each case to help determine if you have a viable claim. We will look at important details such as whether or not you were invited onto the property, and whether the owner or tenant fell below the standard of care by failing to inspect the premises, identify dangerous conditions, and repair or warn others of the hazards.
Holding Property Owners and Tenants Responsible for Substandard Conditions
Pensacola premises liability lawsuits can stem from injuries caused by a variety of hazardous conditions, including but not limited to:
Our law firm handles premises liability/slip and fall accidents occurring in a wide variety of settings, which include:
- Residential Homes
- Apartment Complexes
- Commercial Offices and Other Commercial Properties
- Bars and Night Clubs
- Grocery Stores
- Malls and Retail Stores
- Hotels and Resorts
- Construction Sites
- Nursing Homes
- Government Buildings
We see an inordinate number of injuries caused by slipping on old tile floors in condominium complexes, for example. We also see a lot of slip and fall accidents in the workplace, particularly in places like construction sites, where workers are often situated in elevated places in which a fall can cause a severe injury or worse. When a fall results in a fatality, our firm’s Pensacola wrongful death attorneys are ready to pursue the claim.
What is the Liability of the Retail Business?
A retail business that is open to the public and welcomes visitors on their premises has a duty to keep their guests reasonably safe. This means taking reasonable steps to keep the property free of dangerous conditions, and to adequately warn visitors of any known hazards. Unfortunately, retail stores do not always live up to this duty, and this can result in one of their guests getting injured.
There are numerous potential hazards that could cause a slip and fall accident at a retail establishment, such as:
- Shelves that are overloaded or improperly stocked, causing merchandise to fall on the floor;
- Food, drinks, and other sticky or slippery substances that get spilled on the floor;
- Cracked flooring, cracked or uneven walking surfaces, torn carpeting, broken stairwells, and other structural defects;
- Poorly lit areas that make it more difficult for a customer to notice a slip and fall hazard;
- Congested and overcrowded areas, such as parking lots or aisles;
- Malfunctioning escalators and elevators.
For a retail business to be held liable for a slip and fall accident that occurs on their premises, the plaintiff must prove the following:
- A hazardous condition existed on the property;
- This hazardous condition was the proximate cause of the slip and fall accident and subsequent injury;
- The owner, manager, or an employee of the retail store knew (or should have known) about the hazardous condition;
- Those in charge of the store at the time failed to take reasonable steps to remedy the condition or adequately warn visitors that it existed.
Pensacola Dog Bite Lawyers Fight Back
An attack by a dog or other animal can be terrifying and can result in devastating injuries and even death. We represent victims, protecting their rights and ensuring they are fully compensated for their physical and emotional injuries.
Our Pensacola dog bite attorneys understand the laws governing pet owners and apply their knowledge to benefit every client who has been the victim of an animal attack. Dog owners are responsible for their pets in public places and on their own property. Most animal attack claims are filed under premises liability law.
What was Your Visitor Status when You Got Hurt on Someone Else’s Property?
In determining whether or not you have a valid premises liability claim, one of the first things we will need to find out is what your visitor status was when you were injured on the property. This is because a landowner’s legal duty of care differs depending on what you are doing on their property.
There are three general categories of visitors:
- Invitees: These are visitors who have explicit permission to enter the property, generally for the benefit of the owner or caretaker. Examples of invitees include customers, employees, tenants, hotel guests, students, hospital and nursing home patients, and subcontractors. The highest duty of care is owed to invitees, and those in charge of the property must take reasonable steps to identify and effectively address any potential hazards – so the property is safe for visitors.
- Licensees: These are visitors who have implied permission to enter a property, but it is generally for their own benefit. Visitors in the licensee category may include mail and other delivery carriers, neighbors, social guests, and unsolicited salespersons. A slightly lower duty of care is owed to licensees. Owners and caretakers must address any open and obvious hazards, but they are not necessarily required to inspect the property to uncover hidden dangers.
- Trespassers: A trespasser is someone who does not have either explicit or implied permission to be on a property, and therefore, a very low duty of care is owed to those in this category. With regards to trespassers, owners and caretakers are only required to refrain from willful or malicious conduct and entrapment that is designed to do them harm. The one possible exception is when there are conditions on a property that make it easy for child trespassers to enter and get hurt.
As you might guess, if your status on the property would fall under the category of an invitee, you have the best chance of recovering damages for a slip and fall injury, dog bite, or another type of injury. You might still have a viable case if you were a licensee, but if you are a trespasser, unfortunately, you will be facing an uphill battle.
Pursuing a Premises Liability Claim in Florida
If you or someone close to you was injured while on the property of another party and you have sufficient evidence to support your claim, you are entitled to compensation. Damages available in a premises liability claim may include compensation for financial, physical, and emotional losses, such as:
- Reasonable and necessary medical costs;
- Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity;
- Physical pain and suffering;
- Psychological distress;
- Permanent disability;
- Diminished quality of life;
- Funeral and burial costs (in the case of a wrongful death).
Premises liability cases can be difficult to pursue, because property owners will often push back hard against a claim that they believe to be “frivolous”. Some possible defenses an owner may use include:
- The property is not controlled by the defendant (e.g., there is an absentee owner and the lessee/tenant is the one responsible);
- The defendant was unaware and could not reasonably have known that the hazard existed;
- The hazard was “open and obvious” to a reasonable person;
- The plaintiff was responsible for their own injuries (e.g., you are looking down at your phone when you tripped and fell on the property);
- The plaintiff was in an area of the property that is restricted or that visitors do not normally go;
- The defendant’s property is protected by Florida’s recreational use immunity.
In order to have the best chance of succeeding with a premises liability claim, it is important to obtain as much documentation of the incident as possible. Take multiple photos of the accident scene (showing how it took place) and write down a detailed report describing what happened. And if there are any individuals who witnessed the accident, speak with them right away and ask if they would be willing to provide a statement.
In many cases, a witness might allow you to record a video or audio statement on your smartphone. Memories tend to fade, and people can be hard to get a hold of after some time passes, so if possible, get the statements of witnesses while you are still at the scene of the accident or soon thereafter.
When You Need Pensacola Slip and Fall and Dog Bite Attorneys You Can Trust
As experienced personal injury litigators, we quickly determine whether cause for a premises liability action exists. In cases like these, however, evidence has a tendency to “disappear” over time, making it more difficult to hold the responsible parties accountable. The sooner you call our firm, the sooner we can investigate what happened and preserve the evidence necessary to support your claim.
Contact Whibbs Stone Barnett online or call our office at (850) 434-5395 to schedule a free consultation with a Fort Walton Beach or Pensacola trip and fall lawyer. We look forward to delivering the service you expect and the compensation you deserve.