Accidents are the fourth-leading cause of death in the US and a top reason that victims seek medical care for injuries, but you might be surprised at how the data breaks down. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that almost 201,000 are killed every year, and 97.9 million people head to the ER for treatment of unintentional injuries. However, contrary to popular misconception, just 20% of these incidents are motor vehicle collisions. More people are affected by falls and related accidents, many of which are preventable.
You are in an ideal position to prevent accidents at home, but there can be hidden dangers in the businesses you visit. Owners can be held accountable under Florida law, so they may attempt to “unhide” hazards by posting warning signs. Help from a Miami premises liability lawyer is essential for addressing such a defense, though some basic information is useful.
Property Owner’s Duty of Care
The reason that a business or property owner can be held accountable for accidents is that premises liability principles impose a legal obligation upon them. They are required to maintain their spaces in a safe condition and implement reasonable measures to correct hazards. An individual or entity may breach this legal duty by:
- Failing to make repairs;
- Neglecting to clean up merchandise, equipment, or other debris that could cause a trip hazard;
- Refusing to mop up spills and puddles; and,
- Not implementing appropriate security measures when criminal activity is common.
When property owners and businesses breach the duty of care, they increase the potential for serious accidents. If a person is hurt as a direct result of this misconduct, they can seek compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, and many other losses.
How Warning Signs Affect the Duty of Care
Premises liability concepts only require property owners to take reasonable actions to prevent foreseeable accidents. They cannot be expected to correct dangerous conditions that are unexpected, and they are held to a duty that is reasonable under the circumstances.
Many property owners will attempt to shield themselves from liability by posting a warning sign about a hazard. They seek to get themselves off the hook by alerting guests to the danger – instead of taking action to correct it. However:
- An owner who posts a sign obviously knows there is a problem. The legal duty requires the at-fault to fix it, not simply warn about it.
- When warning signs are not posted in appropriate locations, guests may not even see them.
- Warning signs may not be sufficient to keep children away from hazards if they are too young to read.
Call Now to Speak to Our Miami Premises Liability Attorneys
As you can see, posting a warning sign does not always absolve the property owner of liability, but it could have an impact on your claim. For details on defenses that at-fault parties may raise in a premises liability claim, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA. You can call (305) 371-6000 or visit our website to set up a free case assessment at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL.