Florida Court Analyzes Liability for Harm Caused by Open and Obvious Conditions

Generally, business owners can be held liable for harm caused by dangerous conditions encountered on their property. There are some exceptions, though, such as when a hazard presents a blatant danger. In a recent Florida ruling, a court explained a property owner’s duties in the context of open and obvious conditions. If you suffered injuries in a fall on another person’s property, it is smart to meet with a Florida personal injury lawyer to discuss what evidence you may need to establish liability.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff visited the defendant’s boathouse to have his boat serviced. He went to the dock to board the boat and stepped on the sea wall. Unfortunately, he stepped on a divot, which caused his foot to go out from beneath him. He subsequently fell and suffered injuries. He then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging its negligent failure to remedy the defects in the sea wall led to his harm. The defendant moved for dismissal via summary judgment, and the court granted the defendant’s motion, but the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the trial court ruling was reversed.

Liability for Harm Caused by Open and Obvious Conditions

On appeal, the main question was whether the defendant was liable for the plaintiff’s harm when the condition that caused his injury was open and obvious. The court explained that typically, a business owner has no duty to protect a customer entering their property from dangers that are known to them or are so apparent and obvious that they may be reasonably anticipated to discover them.

The court clarified, however, that the results differ when the harm the customer suffers is foreseeable to the property owner. Specifically, property owners are not liable for harm caused by open and obvious conditions unless the owner should anticipate harm will occur despite the fact the condition is clear. Further, the court noted that the issue is not whether the condition is obvious but whether the dangers presented by the condition are evident, in consideration of all circumstances present at the time the accident that caused the harmful condition occurred. In the subject case, the court determined that there was an issue of fact as to whether the defendant knew or should have known that harm would arise out of the condition. As such, it reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Knowledgeable Florida Attorney

Business owners have a duty to keep their premises in a relatively safe condition, and if they do not, they may be held accountable for any harm that occurs. If you are injured in a fall at a business, it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney to discuss your options for seeking damages. The knowledgeable Florida lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. are proficient at proving liability in slip and fall cases, and if we represent you, we will zealously pursue the best legal outcome available under the facts of your case. You can reach us through our form online or by calling 800-283-7442 to set up a confidential meeting.

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