Florida’s tourism industry is booming, with the state welcoming a record 100 million visitors in 2016 – the first state in the country to exceed that figure.
Lodges, resorts, hotels, motels, apartment complexes and even private homeowners benefit enormously from this influx of out-of-state and international visitors, as do restaurants, theme parks, casinos, grocery stores, gas stations and more. Local and state governments, the entities in charge of Florida’s public parks and beaches, rake in revenue too.
With all these monetary benefits comes a hefty responsibility: The duty to ensure the site is reasonably safe for people who are invited either as members of the general public or to complete a commercial transaction. Failure to do this that results in personal injury may open the door to liability.
At The Ansara Law Firm, we understand the legal responsibilities owed by the various businesses and government agencies. In general, when someone enters a property, they have a reasonable expectation of not getting injured.
The legal theory of premises liability holds property owners and operators liable for injuries and accidents that occur on their property.
Some examples of a tourist premises liability injury would be:
- A grocery store slip-and-fall;
- An amusement park injury ride;
- A fall down a rickety set of hotel stairs;
- A swimming pool injury at your hotel;
- Insect or bed bug infestations;
- A violent assault at a local nightclub that lacked adequate security;
- Unsafe showers or bath tubs;
- Poorly maintained elevators or escalators, leading to injury;
- An attack by wildlife or other animals in an area with no posted warning signs where the danger was known and not necessarily obvious to visitors;
- Broken or unsafe furniture;
- Poorly lit parking lots that lead to injury or assault.
In the aftermath of an injury on vacation, you should know you do have legal options. One of the greatest benefits of hiring a local Fort Lauderdale injury attorney is that he or she will be knowledgeable about state and local laws and the players likely to be involved. Your attorney can also help you in arranging a local medical clinic, rental car, doctor and other resources that can be very helpful immediately after an accident.Proving Liability in Premises Liability Lawsuit
In order to demonstrate that you have a valid premises liability claim, your attorney will need to show that the property owner:
- Knew or should have known about the hazardous conditions;
- Failed to take warn or action and address the issue that contributed to a serious injury or wrongful death.
In cases where plaintiffs are alleging a slip-and-fall injury caused by some transitory foreign substance on the floor, F.S. 768.0755 requires the injured person prove either actual or constructive knowledge of the danger.
Beyond that, what will be critical to establish is the role of the injured person on the site. In most tourism injury cases, we’re going to be talking about “business invitees.”Legal Status of Visitor: Invitee, Licensee or Trespasser?
The duty of the owner or operator of a site to the injured person depends on why the injured person is there.
- Business invitee: Controllers of property owe the highest duty of care to business invitees, who are on site to engage in a commercial transaction that benefits the property owner. Property owners have to keep the site in safe condition and warn these invitees if there is any danger about which they know or should know. For example, if a hotel guest slips and falls on a puddle in the hotel lobby, the hotel would need to show staffers regularly inspected the lobby and checked for foreign substances on the floor and even exercising due care through frequent inspections, they were unable to prevent the accident. But a guest could argue the puddle had been on the floor for so long that had the hotel conducted regular inspections, it would have been discovered.
- Licensee. These are individuals who are on the site for social reasons. These are essentially uninvited guests who are nonetheless lawfully on site. The property owner owes a duty of care to repair any conditions that are unsafe and to warn about existing dangers, but does not have a duty to inspect.
- Trespassers. These are individuals who enter the property without permission of the owner. Maybe they are using the property to cut through or maybe they are sneaking on site for a night swim. The law only requires that the property owner or controller not recklessly or intentionally injure trespassers. However, there is an exception where children are concerned. The attractive nuisance doctrine takes into account that children are curious yet don’t fully appreciate the dangers of certain sites, such as a swimming pool. If a young child trespasses, the property owner has a duty to protect them from any potentially dangerous feature on site that might reasonably attract them.
Tourist injury premises liability cases can be nuanced and complex. It’s imperative those injured seek immediate medical attention and prompt legal counsel.
Call the injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm at (877) 277-3780 or locally in Broward at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties.