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Premises Liability

The term “premises liability” refers to a situation where an individual is injured on property or “premises” owned or maintained by someone else.

Miami Premises Liability Lawyers

Over the past 29 years, lawyers at Bernstein & Maryanoff have resolved more than 50,000 personal injury cases, including many cases involving premises liability such as slip and fall accidents, swimming pool accidents, and assaults due to negligent security. From our principal office in Miami and numerous other offices across Florida, we represent clients throughout the state.

Premises Liability – An Overview

Every year, many people are hurt while in someone else’s home or place of business. People may be injured on a flight of stairs, on a patch of ice or snow, or by a defect in a building. Generally, the law provides that property owners must keep their premises reasonably safe for people who are on the property. In some situations, such as those involving businesses that encourage the public to come onto their premises, the property owners have the duty to inspect the premises and to discover dangerous conditions. If you have been injured while on property belonging to someone else, it is essential that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible from an experienced personal injury attorney.

The Duty to Keep Property Safe

In most states, a property owner, including a tenant in possession of property, generally has a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of people lawfully on the property. This means that the owner has the obligation to inspect the property. If the owner finds dangerous conditions, he or she must either repair those conditions or issue adequate warnings of the danger. If he or she knows about a dangerous condition, but does nothing about it, the owner may be liable to visitors injured by that condition. In some states, the property owner’s duties can vary depending on the legal status of the person who was injured. For example, the duty can vary depending on whether the person was on the premises at the invitation of the property owner, like a restaurant patron, was a trespasser, or was an innocent child.

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Keeping the Premises Safe

A property owner or a person in possession of property has legal responsibility for the safety of the premises. These responsibilities vary from state to state. They may even vary by the type of person on the property. An attorney who is knowledgeable about the law of premises liability can advise you regarding the property owner’s responsibilities under the law of your state.

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Toxic Substances on the Property

Toxic substances may include numerous things, including some you may not think of as particularly hazardous or some that were not regarded as dangerous when they were used. Examples include such common products as asbestos shingles or insulation, lead-based paint, or fluids drained from motor vehicles. The law regarding premises liability for toxic substances is very complex and to ensure that you receive the most accurate and current advice, you should consult an experienced attorney.

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Governmental Immunity in Premises Liability Cases

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One of the most common premises liability situations occurs when a member of the public is injured by a defect on a public sidewalk or roadway. For example, many accidents occur when traffic lights or signs malfunction, are obscured, or are not present at all. Another example is when a local government entity is performing roadwork involving an excavation or obstruction of the roadway and someone is injured due to the change in the road’s surface or traffic flow. Finally, a very common situation is when someone is injured when he or she trips and falls due to a defect in a public sidewalk. In these cases, it would seem clear that the governmental unit responsible for maintaining the road or walkway should be held legally responsible to the injured party.

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Bad Tenants and the Landlord’s Responsibilities

It is also important for you to save all evidence related to the fall. This includes shoes and clothing that may have oil or other substances from the fall. The defense may request the judge to order that your shoes or other items be inspected. You should also photograph any injury immediately after the fall and when there are any changes such as swelling or bruising. If you undergo surgery, that should be photographed as well so your lawyer can show the jury how the injury affected you.

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Duties Owed By Property Owners And Possessors

In many states, property owners and possessors owe different degrees of responsibility, or duties, to people who come onto their property, depending on how such people are categorized. The law recognizes three main categories of people who might be on someone else’s property: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. In states that still distinguish among these categories of people, the legal duty owed to each category is different. It is important to ask an attorney whether these categories and standards of care apply in your state.

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Premises Liability Resource Links

Bureau of Labor Statistics
Features labor data, surveys, publications and more.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Health Topic: Injury and Violence
Features information on accident and injury causes, prevention, and statistics.

MedlinePlus
Features articles on accident prevention and safety. Sponsored by the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.