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Premises liability and the role of the open and obvious doctrine

Whenever you move about any landowner’s property in Florida, you would likely expect to be safe from hazards that could cause injuries. Knowing that you could file a premises liability suit should dangerous conditions on the property harm you may ease your mind. However, as with any doctrine, exceptions exist, and before pursuing recovery, you will likely need to make sure you have a full understanding of the applicable laws.

What is premises liability?

Landowners in Florida owe a duty of care to anybody who legally enters their properties. Property owners must ensure that visitors to their premises face no unreasonable risks of harm from dangerous conditions. If a hazardous condition causes you to suffer an injury, the landowner may be liable for damages.

The court will follow certain guidelines to determine liability for an injury that you suffered while on any public premises. A property owner might be responsible for damages if he or she failed to remove or repair a hazard of which he or she was aware, or should have been aware. The landowner must also be mindful of the fact that some potentially dangerous hazards may not be immediately recognizable by the public; therefore, many individuals might not exercise caution around such hazards unless proper precautions are put into place.

Can anything relieve the property owner of liability?

In Florida and most other states, some circumstances could create exceptions to the rules that determine premises liability. A property owner who faces a premises liability lawsuit could use a doctrine called the open and obvious defense. This particular defense may come into play if the court can be convinced that you should have recognized the obvious hazards and the warning signs that could have prevented harm. The court will try to determine whether an average individual should have been able to recognize and avoid the hazard.

Are there exceptions to the rules of the open and obvious doctrine?

In any field of the law, there are typically exceptions, and in this case, the open and obvious rule exists, but it does not offer an easy defense for negligent landowners. Even when a hazard is clearly visible, a property owner must safeguard it to a reasonable degree to prevent visitors from suffering injuries. However, if it is evident to the landowner that visitors could be injured even with knowledge of the hazard, he or she must fix the danger or post proper and clear warnings.

If you secure the support and guidance of an experienced premises liability attorney in Florida, he or she will fully examine every possible detail that may have caused you to suffer injuries on another party’s property, even in cases where they were the result of a seemingly obvious hazardous condition. Furthermore, your attorney will thoroughly investigate your case to see if any violations of health and safety laws may automatically make the landowner negligent and liable for your damages.