Premises Liability Lawyers in Jacksonville, Florida
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Our premises liability lawyers and negligent security attorneys can help if you’ve been injured or attacked on someone else’s property. Property owners have a responsibility to make their premises safe and secure for others. If you become the victim of a crime or suffer an injury while visiting another’s property, whether it is your place of work, a home, store, warehouse, showroom, apartment building, mall, resort, school, abandoned building, or vacant lot, you should contact our premises liability lawyers for a free case evaluation.
Negligent Security Attorney
Property owners are not only required to maintain their premises to protect visitors from accidental injuries, but also to protect visitors from criminal activity on their property. Depending on the specific case, these expectations might include:
- securely locked buildings and lobbies
- sufficient lighting
- quality security personnel on staff
- security equipment, such as:
- automatically locking doors in working order
- working security cameras
- security gates in working order
- appropriate fencing
If you are a victim of a crime, do not assume that you were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. If reasonable steps were not taken to protect you from a foreseeable criminal assault, beating, mugging, rape, or other criminal attack, you may be entitled to recover damages. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are ready to help you with your case if you’ve been harmed due to negligent security on someone else’s property.
Premises liability issues are complicated, easily confusing, and sometimes even overlapping. You need experienced lawyers who understand the laws and ordinances to help evaluate your case. Our attorneys will investigate the situation, examine the evidence, determine the applicable laws, and discuss your legal rights with you, to help you get the financial compensation you deserve.
Our premises liability lawyers understand that property responsibility accidents can be devastating in terms of medical care, pain, mental anguish and depression, lost wages, personal property repair, and the frustration of dealing with unresponsive property owners. These people must be held liable for your suffering, costs, and inconvenience, and we will work with you to help you to get the money—and justice—you deserve.
How to Know if You Need an Attorney
Insurance companies are not your friend.
In fact, at Harrell & Harrell, P.A., we tell our clients that, “If insurance companies did what they are supposed to do and paid fair compensation for injuries, there would be no need for personal injury attorneys.”
Unfortunately, many times insurance companies don’t pay fair compensation in a reasonable and prompt manner because it’s in their best interests to pay as little as they can. So, we encourage you to consult with a personal injury lawyer before making any decisions regarding your accident claim. In fact, we recommend that you choose an attorney who limits his or her practice to personal injury law because the increasing complexity of laws makes it increasingly more challenging to have expertise in more than one area of legal practice today.
Here are more detailed steps about how to respond.
What To Do After An Accident
Let’s say you’ve had a slip and fall accident—or a loved one has—and you aren’t sure what steps to take. Here are some tips:
- Get immediate medical attention. If the situation is not an emergency, see a doctor within 24 to 48 hours.
- Report the accident to the owner or the property (or operator/manager), requesting to make a formal report. If, say, a business doesn’t have a form they use, describe the slip and fall accident and resulting injuries in writing. Mail your detailed report to the business, including a police report, if applicable.
- If there are witnesses to the accident, try to gather information from them, including contact information. Take photos from multiple angles.
- Keep careful records of any relevant communications, bills, receipts, and more.
- Don’t make any statements about potential legal actions or place blame. This includes social media.
- Don’t sign anything given to you by a property owner or manager, or by an insurance company or their attorneys.
- Consult your own experienced attorney. Here is information about the personal injury attorneys at our law firm.
Contributory Versus Comparative Negligence
Traditionally, premises liability law relied upon contributory negligence. When applied, this legal concept prevented an injured plaintiff from recovering any compensation at all if he or she was even partly responsible for causing the accident. This is quite harsh, and for that reason many states have moved to either pure or modified comparative negligence.
Florida has adopted pure comparative negligence. Under the form of pure comparative negligence, injured persons can recover damages even when they were significantly negligent if the other party was negligent in any degree. So, if the injured party was 80 percent negligent, and the landowner was 20 percent negligent, then 20 percent of damages suffered could potentially be collected.
Then there is modified comparative negligence, set at 50 percent or 51 percent, depending on jurisdiction. Georgia is a modified comparative state, meaning that the injured party would be barred from potentially collecting damages if he or she was more negligent than all of the defendants, combined.
We’re providing this information to illustrate how complex premises liability law can be, which is why having an experienced attorney in this area of law can be crucial. That’s because, say, when determining fault percentages—which, as you can see, is at the core of premises liability —each side must present its case. Witnesses may be called, and so forth, and then a determination is made.
Premise Liability with Julie Harrell
When people think of safety and security, they often think about repairs and maintenance, and that’s definitely part of it. But, property owners must also maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition; so, for example, if the owner of an apartment complex or business knows that there have been previous crimes committed there, then this is notice that criminal activity in the future is foreseeable. Visitors to the property may not be aware of this, and the owners must, therefore, provide appropriate safety measures.
For example, an apartment complex may be gated. But, is the gate properly maintained and operational? It’s not enough for an owner to create an appearance of security. They must also follow through on appropriate safety measures.
Premises Liability Legal Terms
Premises liability law falls under the broad umbrella of personal injury law, which is typically based on negligence. To prove a case of premises liability/negligence, the injured party must demonstrate that the property owner failed to exercise reasonable care with an aspect of ownership. Simply being injured on someone else’s property, then, doesn’t automatically mean that the owner was negligent and doesn’t automatically mean that premises liability issues are present. Instead, the owner must have known—or reasonably should have known—that the premises contained unsafe conditions, and then didn’t fix the situation, with injuries occurring as a result.
The court may also look at the status of the injured party, and you may hear certain legal terms used to describe that status. For example, an invitee is someone who has express or implied permission to be on the property. This can include friends, family members, neighbors and so forth. A licensee, meanwhile, also has express or implied permission from the property owner to be on the property, but is there for his or her own purposes—perhaps to sell the landowner a product.
Finally, there are what the court considers trespassers, someone who did not have permission from the landowner to be on the property. Child trespassers are generally given a higher level of protection than adults in this category because children don’t yet have the same ability to understand the differences between right and wrong as an adult should.
This information is an oversimplification of the law, although it does provide a foundation. Now, to make matters more complicated, premises liability law has evolved during the 20th century in the ways in which the concepts of invitees, licensees, and trespassers are defined and addressed, evolving in a manner that a layperson may not understand.
Before we move on to the related topic of contributory negligence versus comparative negligence, here’s another issue to consider. An injury could take place behind closed doors of a rented apartment. In that case, is the landlord responsible? Or is that tenant presumed by law to be in charge of the condition of the property? Either could be true, depending upon specifics, including whether or not a latent defect exists; this is a concealed condition that already existed when the tenant first began renting the apartment. Another factor can be whether the injury occurred because of a repair that the landlord did, doing so using substandard levels of care.
Representing Property Injury Cases
We’ve represented many people injured by a property owner’s negligence, including such areas as:
- inadequate/negligent security
- improper storage procedures
- holes/curling of flooring/stairways
- unprotected materials or sharp objects
- presence of poisonous substances/materials
- inadequate/inoperable alarm systems
- locked/unavailable escape options
- deceptive appearances
Perhaps one of the most straightforward of these situations are slip and fall accidents, ones that occur when the injured party slipped or tripped, and then fallen, on someone else’s property. This can take place inside or outside; outdoors, ice or snow can be the culprit, and so can broken sidewalks, loose stairs leading to the structure, and so forth. Indoors, wet floors, unsecured rugs, uneven thresholds, extension cords, and so forth can lead to the slip and fall accident.
Premises liability also includes responsibility of protecting you from “attractive nuisances” that offer hazardous situations. The most obvious of these might be the unguarded swimming pool that is not properly secured, abandoned buildings that are left open, unattended construction equipment, and similar situations or items that would attract curious children and careless others.
Premises Liability FAQs
Florida premises liability law makes a landowner or other person in control of real property responsible for keeping the premises in a safe condition for those visiting the property. However, the duty the owner or operator owes to another person varies depending on why the person is on the property. The highest duty is owed to “invitees,” such as customers in a store. The duty to trespassers is much more limited. The best source of information about the duty owed to you and whether you may have a premises liability claim is an experienced local premises liability attorney.
A premises liability claim can arise out of any injury that occurs because a property owner or operator was negligent. Some common examples include slipping and falling on spilled liquid that store management neglected to clean up, tripping on a broken stair or due to a poorly-lighted stairwell, or falling victim to a crime due to a broken security door.
Any time you have been injured on someone else’s property due to poor maintenance, faulty security, or other unsafe conditions, you should consider consulting a premises liability lawyer.
The duty of care is different depending on the status of the injured person, so the answer to this question will vary from case to case. In any premises liability case, the injured party must prove that the property owner or operator had a duty to them, that they breached that duty, and that the breach of the duty caused the injury. It’s important to know, though, that simply being injured on someone else’s property isn’t sufficient to establish a premises liability claim–you must show that the defendant failed to do something they were required to do, such as repairing a defect or warning you of dangerous conditions.
In short, business owners can maintain their property in a safe condition. That means ensuring that routine maintenance is up to date, repairing any damages or wear and tear that may create a risk, and clearly warning visitors of any hazards that can’t be remedied or are awaiting repair. Depending on the hazard, that may be as simple as putting up easily visible “wet floor” signs or as extensive as closing off an area of the property until a problem can be fixed.
If you’ve suffered an injury on someone else’s property, it’s generally best to talk to a premises liability attorney or negligent security attorney right away after your accident. Often, incidents that seem like “just an accident” could have been avoided with proper maintenance and other precautions, and you may be entitled to compensation. The best way to learn more about your rights and options after a fall or other injury on someone else’s property is to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Premises Liability Attorneys at Harrell & Harrell, P.A.
As with any accidental injury, be sure you understand all the possibilities. Don’t discuss any settlement with an insurance company—let an experienced property liability lawyer at Harrell & Harrell, P.A., handle that responsibility. We fight big insurance companies every day, since their goal is to pay as little as possible while our goal is to help you get all you deserve. Don’t forget that the serious effects of an accident often don’t show up until well after the accident itself, and these effects include all the costs and emotional impact in the following months and years.
The experienced premises liability lawyers at Harrell & Harrell will help you to pick up the pieces and work hard to be sure that every consideration is made for your future needs.
Results matter. And, we’ve won the following verdicts and settlements for our clients, among many others:
- Our slip and fall attorney represented a woman who fell after sliding on a slippery hardwood floor in a local restaurant. The owner refused to take responsibility for the accident and the case ended up in court. The jury awarded the woman $1,203,000, nearly half of which was for pain and suffering damages.
- In another type of premises liability case, a three-year-old girl was left unattended at the home of her babysitter. She was mauled by three dogs, which left her with devastating injuries. The mobile home community where this took place denied knowledge of the animals, but our premises liability attorney who represented her allowed the family to recover $3,000,000 in damages.
Contact us online for a free case evaluation or call us at 800.251.1111.
Don’t settle for less than you deserve.®
Holt Harrell, June Entsminger, and Becca Kisling are an amazing team! From beginning to end, I felt that my case was handled with priority and efficiency. All of my questions were answered patiently and thoroughly and all of my concerns were put to rest rather quickly with Holt, June, and Becca's keen knowledge and incredible expertise. Harrell & Harrell has one very happy client and they will always have my referral of recommendation!