Premises Liability Lawyer Orlando | Florida Dangerous Property Attorney
At Tina Willis Law, we are Orlando premises liability lawyers, which means we often represent people who have been injured while on someone else’s property. These are called premises liability, or dangerous property, lawsuits. As an award-winning Orlando premises liability lawyer, Ms. Willis regularly evaluates all different sorts of property obstacles and hazards. Those often involve either defective construction, poor maintenance, or inadequate security. We work with a team of Florida dangerous property lawyers, and other experts, all of whom are very experienced with many different types of dangerous property / premises liability lawsuits. We use this teamwork, award-winning, client-centered approach to get each of our clients the most money possible.
To get answers quickly, you can call or text our 24 hour / 7 day per week premises liability lawyer hotline right now — at (407) 803-2139. Consultations are always free.
This article explains some of the things we evaluate when we consider premises liability or dangerous property cases, and the most common types of cases we handle. Reading this entire article will help you understand whether you can pursue a premises liability case, what amount of money, and categories of money damages, you might expect to recover, as well as how to get the most money possible.
How Is Our Approach To Premises Liability Cases Different?
Our approach is extremely unique because we are premises liability lawyers who spend whatever time is needed with each and every client. We want all of our clients to understand how best to maximize their case value, and we want to help them gather all of the evidence we need to effectively tell their story. We are a boutique law firm that only accepts moderate to serious injury and death premises liability cases. This low volume approach allows us to give each client’s case the time and attention needed to maximize recovery. Many other premises liability lawyers operate on an extremely high volume basis, which often means that after the first meeting you can never speak to your attorney again. Sometimes you can’t even speak to your attorney on the first day!
Because of that low volume approach, if we think you might have a legitimate premises liability lawsuit after a few preliminary questions, we will ask detailed questions to learn everything possible about caused your injury, or loved one’s death. If necessary to prove your case, then we will even visit the property, or have an expert visit the property, to determine whether all legal and safety requirements were met. We use the evidence we learn or collect, together with expert testimony, to help you get the most money possible.
What Do We Need To Know To Consider Your Florida Premises Liability Case?
Due to complicated Florida laws regarding premises liability (or dangerous property lawsuits), before we can accept a case, we have to make sure each one satisfies a list of criteria. This isn’t because we don’t want to help everyone (because we do). Florida laws simply define different types of premises liability cases in weird ways. We have to make sure each box is ticked to be able to pursue those lawsuits that can be won, and will be worth your time, energy, and investment of medical bills and treatment — which is why we have to ask many questions whenever someone calls about a potential Orlando or Florida premises liability lawsuit.
How Serious Were Your Injuries And Treatment?
For starters, we will only consider premises liability cases when someone is seriously injured — which often means that they have had surgery or worse. If you were less seriously injured (like your back hurts a little), then we could not consider your case unless and until your injury becomes more serious, and involves more significant treatment. While other law firms may accept these cases (and you should check around), we spend too much time on each case to be able to consider those that do not involve serious injuries.
Premises Liability Lawsuit Deadlines — Practical & Legal
Warning: there is an unforgiving deadline on filing premises liability lawsuits, which is 4 years. Also, if you delay treatment even by a few weeks, that can destroy your case as a practical matter. Additionally, failure to secure evidence VERY quickly can destroy a case, as a practical matter. So, if you think you have a case, you should call a Orlando personal injury lawyer ASAP.
Where Were You Injured?
Next, WHERE you were injured really matters. That’s because whoever owns the property, if they were at fault, will have to pay. But there are different levels of liability depending on WHO owns the property. We generally divide those between: (1) regular homeowners (who tend to have policies capped at 100K); (2) business owners (which often, but not always, have insurance or assets of at least 1 million dollars, and sometimes unlimited); and (3) government agencies (which have caps on available damages (these are 200K per person, and 300K per accident — which means that if more than one person was injured, the total and maximum recovery, which everyone injured must divide IF they are seriously injured, is 300K).
What Are The Main Types Of Premises Liability Cases?
There are many different types of premises liability cases — and most different categories have different statutes governing what we Orlando premises liability lawyers must prove to win your case. That’s why we have to evaluate peculiar facts about the accident, to know whether we can help you. But some of the most common types of premises liability cases we handle are:
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Poor security that caused assault, battery, rape, robbery, stabbing, or murder
- Poor maintenance on property (e.g., very dirty floors caused you to slip and fall)
- Escalator and elevator accidents
- Swimming pool accidents, including wrongful death by drowning
- Trampoline accidents
- Amusement park accidents
- Dog bites
- Rape or sexual assault by business employees, or unknown assailants, often in hotel rooms or parking lots
- Exposures to toxic chemicals or fumes
- Cracked, crumbling, or grossly uneven sidewalks
- Jutting features on property grounds (such as a pipe sticking out of the ground)
- Unsafely stacked or placed merchandise in stores
- Defective construction that caused your accident
- Defective stair well or handrail accidents
- Poor lighting or lack of cameras in parking garages and ramps; and
- Construction accidents
Common Hazards That Can Form The Basis Of A Lawsuit
There are countless different types of hazards that could be the basis of a premises liability lawsuit. Basically anything FAULTY on the property, or anything that the business owner could have prevented, might be the basis of a valid lawsuit. These cases are very fact-intensive, so it is difficult to list every impermissible hazard on property. But these are some typical examples:
- Certain types of wet floor cases
- Locked doors, such as fire escapes or exits
- Construction or trash debris laying around
- Poor wiring that causes a fire
- Potholes throughout a parking lot
- Oil spills on a parking lot
- Failure to warn of KNOWN dangers with signs
- Store products either stacked too high, or unsafely placed
- Bad lighting (below state minimum standards)
- Poor fencing to make sure children can’t enter
- Poor maintenance, such as failure to clean the area, or failure to repair equipment like elevators, automatic doors, leaking coolers, etc.
- Insufficient or poorly trained security personnel
- Playground equipment or toys that are dangerous
When these accidents happen due to the fault of the property owner, the injured victims may be able to file a Florida premises liability lawsuit to recover money damages for their losses.
What If You Were A Crime Victim On Someone Else’s Property?
If you were the victim of a crime on someone else’s property, such as an assault, burglary, rape, or sexual assault, or you lost a family member due to murder (shooting, stabbing, etc) on someone’s property, then you definitely might be able to recover a substantial amount of money to help you get through this painful period in your life.
These types of cases are usually brought under the theory of “negligent” or “inadequate” security. In other words, the property owner can be responsible, even though an unknown third party might have committed the crime, IF he did something wrong, such as failing to provide enough security.
Sometimes an employee of the business committed the crime, such as rape from a church, hospital, or hotel employee. In those cases, the business owner absolutely can be held 100% accountable.
Unfortunately, WHERE and HOW the crime happened determines a lot about whether we can accept your case. If you call us, and we accept your case, that means that we believe you have a higher value case. Those are the only types of cases we handle.
We try to explain some of the factors we consider on this website. But the only way to know for sure is to call us, and have award-winning attorney Tina Willis consider the unique facts of your case.
Factors That Prove Poor Security
Some of the factors that prove inadequate security are poor lighting, poorly trained or operating security guards, and lack of other normal or common security measures. Another argument is that the business lied about the safety or security of the property. For example, if an apartment complex manager says that the area is safe, or their website claims safety, that would help your case. Yet another argument is negligent hiring — meaning the business hired someone who caused your harm, or actually committed the crime.
Examples Of Negligent Security Cases
Examples of negligent security cases include: (1) assaults in mall parking lots; (2) burglaries in apartment complexes; (3) rape or sexual assault in hotel rooms; and (4) shooting deaths inside or outside businesses.
Why WHERE You Were Injured Matters
Beyond HOW to hold a property owner responsible, the next question in terms of case value is WHAT TYPE of property you were visiting when injured.
For example, homeowners generally have the least responsibility and money or insurance to pay. But sometimes homeowners absolutely can be responsible. We just considered a case involving a shooting death on a homeowner’s property. In that case, we couldn’t find anything the homeowner had done wrong OR could have done to make their property safer. So we decided that we couldn’t pursue that case. However, if the homeowner had done something to invite or cause the shooting, we would have taken the case.
Business owners have a higher standard of care — which means they are generally expected to take more actions to make their properties safer. However, with the shooting example above, crimes committed by third parties (like rape, burglary, assault, or murder) are only the legal fault of the property owner IF the property was located in a high crime area AND the property owner should have had better security, or given better warnings. The reason is, in those cases, there is a good argument that the property owner should have taken measures to warn or protect property visitors. This is a case-by-case analysis of the crime in the area, combined with the security measures taken by the property owner, and the likelihood that additional security would have changed the outcome.
One thing we would caution is that, if a serious crime was committed that led to serious injuries or death, give us a call, and let us decide whether the case make sense to pursue. You would be surprised what seemingly “nice” areas of town have high crime — either immediately surrounding the crime scene — or very nearby. Also, we have creative ways of arguing that there should have been more security. But there are some cases that we must reject because there truly is NO GOOD evidence that the property owner did anything wrong, or could have changed the outcome.
What If You Lost Someone Due To A Florida Swimming Pool Drowning?
Swimming pool drownings are among the most tragic possible accident and injury cases. Florida has laws requiring that all swimming pools have certain features to prevent drowning. Many pools do not satisfy all of the legal requirements, which means several people or businesses might be at fault. In swimming pool drowning cases, ideally, we would like to inspect the pool area as soon as possible. That is the only way to know who might have some blame for this tragic accident. If we determine that a person or business might have violated Florida’s laws regarding swimming pool safety, or have some other potential liability (like defective pool construction, maintenance, or products) then we will aggressively pursue the case on your behalf, and explain everything that you need to know to get the most money possible. We would also caution that you not speak with anyone about the case — as property owners will often try to get information from you to lower the value of your case. (For example, if you say that you weren’t really very close to the person who died, that would greatly limit the money you could recover. There are many other examples of statements that could lower your case value, so the best idea is to call us.)
What If You Had A Florida Slip & Fall Accident?
Florida slip and fall accidents fall into two categories: (1) those caused by something INTRINSIC to the property, OR controlled 100% by the owner, like how the tile is set, or whether an employee spilled something and didn’t clean it up; and (2) those caused by what Florida statutes call “transitory foreign objects,” which means something temporary, NOT placed on the floor by the owner. Those two types of cases carry different levels of proof requirements. The second is much more difficult — and requires us to KNOW what caused the object to be placed on the floor.
For example, let’s take water on the floor. Many of these cases are NOT good (sorry!), but there are exceptions. If we know that it had been raining all day, and the rain came into the store, and the owner did nothing to clean the floor, and someone fell and was seriously injured, that could be a good case. However, if someone walked into the bathroom, fell on a spot of water that could have been on the floor for one minute, that’s not a good case because the owner might not have known that there was water on the floor — so they had no time or opportunity to clean the floor — which means they didn’t do anything wrong. The key in “water on the floor” cases is whether there is any way of knowing (and proving) that the owner knew there was water on the floor. This generally means either the owner put the water on the floor himself (or one of his employees did) OR there is some good reason to believe the water had been on the floor for an extended period of time. Again, this is a very fact intensive analysis — therefore, if someone is seriously injured, we ask preliminary questions designed to figure out whether the owner has any blame.
Pictures are Often Essential in Slip & Fall Cases
We don’t always need pictures, but often we do. We will reject most slip and fall cases if you do not have photos of the area. We cannot take cases where the only possible photographic evidence are video surveillance, because that video often tends to get “lost” by the businesses. We need to know what the area looks like before we can take the case.
Can You File A Lawsuit After Being Injured On Someone’s Property?
When people are injured while visiting others, they may be able to file lawsuits against the property owners. Businesses and private individuals both owe duties of care to keep their premises reasonably safe for people who visit them. When they breach that duty, and others are injured, they may owe a lot of money to the injured person. As Orlando accident lawyers, we know how to evaluate what happened, and who might be responsible, to help you recover the most money possible.
What Duty Is Owed By The Property Owner?
Florida has statutes that make property owners liable for injuries to people on their properties, and establishes levels of protection owed to different types of visitors. This sounds complicated but really just means that trespassers do not get the same level of protection as those who are invited onto the property.
What If You Trespassed On The Property?
In Florida, property owners owe very few duties to people who trespass on their property, with a few limited exceptions. Generally, trespassers will not be protected from dangerous conditions that exist on the property. Some limited exceptions apply for trespassing children and for trespassers who are injured by traps that were intentionally set to harm them.
What If You Were Invited Onto The Property?
There are technically two kinds of people invited onto property – licensees and invitees. Don’t worry too much about this distinction — both are owed similar duties of protection. “Licensees” are visitors to the property who are there to conduct business. For example, postal carriers, meter readers, and repair personnel are all protected under Florida law, but to a slightly lesser extent than those who were invited onto the property. “Invitees” are owed a slightly greater degree of protection, and those include invited guests, and business customers.
Generally, a property owner owes the highest duty of care to both invitees and licensees. The business or property owner must keep the premises safe for its invitees and licensees. This includes a duty to warn them about hazards, and to repair dangerous conditions that they know or reasonably should know exist.
Does The Business Owner Have To Know About The Hazard?
Usually the business owner must know about the hazard, or reasonably should have known. That’s another way of saying that the potential harm must be one that is foreseeable to the business or property owner. For example, in a retail store, a slip-and-fall accident caused by a liquid spill may not be reasonably foreseeable unless the fluid had been on the floor for a sufficient amount of time, which would have given the store employees enough time to discover and clean the spill. By contrast, if an employee leaves an item in the middle of an aisle instead of putting it away, and someone trips over it, the business may be liable because it was reasonably foreseeable that someone could trip over the object that the employee left on the ground.
What Happens When Children Are Injured While Trespassing?
Although property owners owe very little duty to trespassers, there is an important exception for trespassing children. If a property owner has a hazardous condition on his property that the owner should reasonably know could attract children, he may be liable if a child gets injured while trespassing. The theory is that basically there is something on the property that would attract children — so the property owner should have done something to protect them. Common examples are backyard swimming pools or trampolines. Other examples of attractive nuisances in Florida include discarded refrigerators, iceboxes and other airtight containers. If a property owner does not take steps to prevent children from entering the property to swim in the pool, or jump on the trampoline, he may be liable to pay damages under the attractive nuisance concept of premises liability.
What Damages (Money) Can You Recover From A Premises Liability Lawsuit?
Whenever you are injured through any type of accident in Florida, including premises liability, you are entitled to three categories of damages: (1) medical expenses caused by the accident, including future medical care (medical providers and health insurance companies must be repaid from your recovery BUT we ALWAYS negotiate those bills down where permitted by law, to put more money in your pocket); (2) provable lost wages caused by the accident, including anticipated future lost wages; and (3) pain and suffering caused by the accident.
Since You Have To Pay Medical Bills From Your Recovery, Should You Avoid The Doctor?
One BIG misconception held by some injury plaintiffs is that they should try to minimize their doctor bills, since they have to repay their doctor from their recovery. However, this is very faulty thing, and can actually lower the case value a great deal. In general, as the medical expenses increase, so do the pain and suffering damages. This is why it is a mistake to believe that you shouldn’t see the doctor because that approach will lower all of your damages. The opposite approach is actually the best. Maximizing your medical treatment is essential to recovering the most money possible in any type of accident case.
Did You Contribute To Your Injuries?
With premises liability, we always have to consider the concept of comparative negligence. That means the defense attorney can argue that you have some share of the blame. And the jury can assign a certain percentage fault to everyone involved, including the plaintiff. For example, in slip and fall cases, defense lawyers ALWAYS argue that the plaintiff should have been watching where they were going. Again, this is why every case involves a fact-intensive inquiry.
How Much Money Is Available For You To Recover?
With premises liability, we always have to consider whether there might be insurance coverage, or a corporation with plenty of money as the defendant. The insurance policies sometimes represent the maximum POSSIBLE recovery (obviously your injuries would need to be serious enough, and the defendant’s fault bad enough, to get a higher award, or the maximum insurance policy limits). Homeowner’s generally only have their homeowner policies. Those policies are very often 100K total. That can definitely be worth pursuing, as long as the homeowner actually did something wrong. Businesses usually have bigger policies and more money (though not always – some small businesses aren’t insured and have very little money).
What If You Were Injured On Government Property?
Government property includes property owned by city, county, and state governments. All injury and accident cases against government agencies have maximum caps on damages in Florida — which allows the government agencies to be less concerned about lawsuits — so we can only accept premises liability cases against government agencies if the liability is clear, and the injuries are very serious. Those caps are 200K per person, and 300K per accident. This means, if multiple people were injured as part of the same accident, the maximum combined amount the government will pay (which those injured will have to divide) is 300K. And the maximum any one person can recover is 200K.
How Can You Get The Most Money Possible?
In all injury and accident cases, your number one job is to comply with the doctor’s orders, throughout the pending lawsuit. Following ALL treatment recommendations is the best way to get the most money possible (along with hiring a lawyer who will best tell your story.) We often give our clients other instructions, such as having them gather evidence of their lost wages, or other necessary evidence. But our number one priority is to help each client get the most money possible. So we tailor our instructions to each client’s specific case. That’s how talking to us helps you.
Why Should You Call Us?
Ms. Tina Willis is an award-winning attorney, who has worked on both the defense and plaintiff side, in countless multi-million dollar lawsuits. You can read more about her impressive background and awards here. But Tina’s winning formula really just comes down to listening to her clients, giving them all the instructions they need, then having a system in place to turn over every stone in making their arguments, and presenting their cases. Tina is a serious academic, who graduated second in her law school class, and also worked as a law professor. That elite academic background allows her to help make legal arguments that others might overlook. Tina also works with a team of lawyers, each of whom brings something very special to the table, and all of whom have many years of experience handling ONLY injury cases, and all of whom are award-winning. So when you hire Tina, you truly hire a team of exceptional lawyers and staff for the price of one. Each case starts with each client receiving an in-depth consultation from Tina, explaining exactly how to get the most money from your case. As the case progresses, Tina carefully manages each phase, and remains available to answer her client’s questions. If your case goes to trial, Tina works together with ALL of the lawyers on your case to present your story, evidence and arguments!
Don’t Be Foolish!
Don’t be fooled by what are usually very high volume television commercial or billboard attorneys — there are many misleading aspects to those commercials and billboards, including that you usually will NOT meet the lawyer on the billboard, and very possibly might not have regular access to talk to ANY lawyer when you have questions. This greatly affects your case value BECAUSE your lawyer must KNOW your case to tell your story to the insurance company, and any jury. How can they tell your story if they don’t talk to you? Answer: they can’t.