If someone is injured on your property are you liable?
Under Florida law, property owners are obligated to maintain a relatively safe environment for their guests to prevent any unnecessary harm. This means that property owners must take the proper precautions, such as installing handrails, fixing uneven floors, and cleaning up spills, to reduce the chances of guests being injured while visiting their property.
In addition, property owners owe a different degree of responsibility to the “types” of guests or people who enter their property. Florida law recognizes three types of people who enter one’s property: invitees, licensees or contractors, and trespassers.
- Invitees are individuals who are friends, family, or non-work related guests. Property owners have a simple obligation to keep their property safe, warn invitees of any known hazards, and avoid creating any potentially dangerous situation.
- Licensees and contractors are individuals who enter one’s property to complete a business transaction. This includes repair work, cable installation, pest control, and even patrons of garage sales. For these guests, property owners are expected to take reasonable care to warn of any known dangers and inspect for hazards on a regular basis.
- Trespassers are individuals who are not invited to enter one’s property. Property owners are not liable for the safety of those who trespass on to their property, but they can also not intentionally injure them. For example, if a property owner knows trespassers frequent his or her property, he or she cannot create a situation that would purposely harm an intruder, such as a hidden trap.
Once the type of guest has been determined, the next step is to see whether or not the property owner has breached his or her duty in taking reasonable steps to keep guests from being injured. Another factor that influences the level of liability for a property owner is whether or not the injured person contributed to his or her injury. For example, if there is large and very noticeable tree stump several feet from one’s house, and a guest trips over the stump because he or she was being careless, then the property owner may or may not be liable for any resulting injuries.