Premises liability is a complex part of the law. In simple terms, it means that property owners have a duty to keep their properties free of health and safety hazards. If you’re injured while on public or private property, the owner may be responsible for your injuries.

In practice, this can be complicated. Your rights and responsibilities depend not only on the nature of the accident, but why you were on the property in the first place.

Premises liability: What you need to know

Not every person has the same rights in a premises liability case. Florida state law classifies people as invitees, licensees, and trespassers:

  • Invitees have been invited onto the premises, often to do business, such as customers or contractors. Invitees have the most legal protections, and are entitled to an environment free of health and safety hazards. A person who is on public property for any reason is also granted the status of invitee.
  • Licensees have entered the premises for their own benefit, but with the consent of the owner. Licensees should be protected from safety hazards or at least warned of their presence. Party guests, even if invited, are usually classified as licensees.
  • Trespassers have entered the premises without the consent of the owner, and therefore have few legal protections. However, property owners are not permitted to set traps or otherwise create deliberately endanger a trespasser. Additionally, property owners must avoid endangering children who might enter the premises uninvited.

Florida state law has begun shifting more of the responsibility to the victim. To win a premises liability case, the victim must prove not only that the hazard existed, but that the property owner knew or should have known about it. That is, the property owner is only liable in cases of negligence.

The obligations of property owners and visitors is the subject of ongoing debate. In general, businesses and homeowners should do their best to maintain a safe environment, regardless of who may enter the property or why. And with recent changes to the law, visitors may want to be especially vigilant.

Still, accidents happen, and if you’ve been injured on someone’s property, you have the right to seek compensation. If you need help understanding premises liability law, contact our offices today for a free consultation!