Dear Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano,
I recently attended my friend Karen’s dinner party in Naples, Florida. It was a great night—the weather was perfect, Karen’s music choices were excellent, and I enjoyed the company of several friends I hadn’t seen in quite a while. We were spoiled by a three-course meal al fresco on Karen’s gorgeous patio alongside her backyard pool.
We decided to play a few games, which is where the story gets a little more…dangerous. We thought we were perfectly safe with a simple game of charades, but what we weren’t counting on was how slippery the patio remained after the cannonball contest the kids held earlier in the evening. Marcus was in the middle of a particularly animated impression of curling (we’ve all been wrapped up in the Winter Olympics) when he suddenly lost his footing and fell straight into the glass dining table. Luckily, Karen is a bit of a neat-freak, and had already cleared all of the dishes from the meal. Unfortunately for Marcus, however, he shattered the glass top and crashed straight through to the ground.
This is where we need your advice: how does Marcus proceed with this situation? What rights do both Marcus and Karen have in this kind of accident? And, how can we all remain friends once this is all over?
Deathly Afraid of Charades
Wow, you weren’t kidding about that party taking a dangerous turn! We, personally, never play charades at dinner parties on principle, but will definitely continue avoiding the game for safety purposes, now. Luckily, both the homeowner (Karen) and injured party guest (Marcus) have rights and clear paths forward in this situation.
The dedicated personal injury attorneys at Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano have the experience and legal knowledge to analyze a situation just like you describe here. Since Marcus was injured on another person’s property, this incident falls into an area of law known as premises liability.
Slip and fall accidents, like the one your friend Marcus experienced, are extremely common in premises liability claims. Injured parties will often seek compensation for medical bills, in which case the victim will need to prove negligence. Under Florida law, accident victims have the burden of proving the defendant was negligent, and failed to take proper care in doing something, leading to the harm of the victim. In your particular case, Marcus would need to prove that Karen was negligent in providing a safe space for her party guests. Property owners have an obligation to repair or warn of any hazards they know or should know about, and that could pose a foreseeable risk of harm to a visitor.
Another key factor in a premises liability case is how the victim is classified with respect to the property where he or she received the injury. In this case, Marcus is considered a licensee, which is defined as an individual who enters the premises for a social purpose. Karen’s responsibility, then, is to avoid reckless or willful acts that could injure the licensee (Marcus), cannot intentionally expose him to danger, and must warn of any known dangerous conditions that would not be visible through ordinary observation. Marcus has a responsibility of his own, however, to exercise reasonable care for his own safety. In the case that he does not observe this duty, his recovery may be limited or reduced by his own negligence.
Should liability be established in Marcus’s favor, he could recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages and benefits, pain and suffering, rehabilitation costs, and any other expenses that may have been associated with his accident. There is a restricted time period to file his claim, however, known as the statute of limitations. Because of this time constriction, it’s imperative for people like Marcus to seek professional counsel as soon as possible.
As for your final question regarding the status of your friendship, our best advice is this: Marcus and Karen should both seek advice from an experienced legal professional to establish if there is any legal fault in this situation, and if a case should be pursued at all. Hopefully they are both reasonable adults who are willing to hear both sides of the story, and take responsibility for their own actions and duties!