Lake Worth Premises Liability Attorney

Florida premises liability attorneys represent those injured by negligently-created hazards on property. The failure of property owners and operators to warn of dangerous conditions or eliminate them can seriously injure or kill patrons, visitors, and occupants. Generally, premises liability cases fit into three categories based on the cause of the injury or type of incident.

Trip and Fall Accidents in Lake Worth

Most premises liability cases arise from slips, trips, and falls. Often, these incidents occur in grocery stores, other big box retailers, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants. In these establishments, substances and objects on floors. The list of hazards may seem countless, but here are a few that commonly cause injuries:

  • Ice, especially from vending machines at fast food or self-serve restaurants or convenience stores
  • Sodas, water, and other beverages
  • Fruit peels
  • Grapes, tomatoes, and other fruits
  • Broken glass bottles and jars
  • Crushed plastic items
  • Mud
  • Puddles from leaked or overflowed bathrooms and toilets
  • Water from cleaning on floors
  • Protruding pallets
  • Toys, clothes, and hangers
  • Food wrappers, cups, and bags
  • Sand or cement bags
  • Cooking or motor oil

Florida law treats these and other items on the floor as “transitory foreign objects” because they are not in their proper places such as containers or shelves. As a result, you must prove that the property owner either had actual knowledge or constructive knowledge. The latter requires a showing that either the object or substance remained on the ground long enough that someone at the store should have noticed it or the conPdition repeatedly is created.

Premises liability lawyers look for signs that an object has been crushed or squished to establish that enough time passed for several people to notice it. Evidence of length of time may come from clean water becoming dirty, the presence of wet or muddy footprints or shoe tracks, and security cameras.

Falling Objects at Lake Worth Stores

Store associates create hazards through improperly displayed or placed merchandise on walls and shelves. These errors include:

  • Insufficient width or length of shelves for merchandise resulting in overhang and risk of falling
  • Stacking merchandise too high, especially above eye-level (generally six feet) on pallets or shelves
  • Placing heavy objects on high surfaces with the anticipation or expectation that customers will reach for them to inspect and take
  • Making sharp objects such as scissors, saws, knives, and blades readily accessible to children
  • Not ensuring that shelves and other surfaces are flat before placing merchandise on them

Many of these mistakes happen in violation of the store’s policies, accepted retail industry standards, or general common sense. In addition to the associate’s negligence, the store itself can face liability for negligent training and negligent supervision. These torts arise from the failure to instruct associates on store policies and accepted proper practices and to regularly inspect the premises.

Negligent Security

By default, the law does not hold premises owners responsible for assaults and other criminal activity of others that injure patrons. This rule does not relieve store owners and shopkeepers from the duty to safeguard customers against known dangers and those reasonably foreseeable.

As to premises liability due to criminal conduct, showing that the crime in question was reasonably foreseeable involves evidence of the frequency of the type of crime on or near the store. Even upon showing foreseeability, there still exists the question of the measures. Plaintiffs may allege and prove the lack of lighting, malfunctioning or non-existent security cameras, absence of security guards or patrols, and obstructions.

Convenience stores in Florida may have more stringent standards due to the prevalence of crime in these types of establishments. By one statistic, nearly 32,000 gas stations nationwide experience a robbery. Roughly one-third of those see multiple incidents.

Florida Statutes Section 768.705 creates a “safe harbor” of sorts, or a rebuttable presumption that the owner of a convenience store took reasonable measures to prevent crime. Store owners taking advantage of this statute must have, among other things:

  • Working security camera that captures video
  • Drop safe or cash management device that limits ability to access cash receipts
  • Lighting in the parking lot at a rating of at least two “foot candles” per square foot at 18 inches high
  • An obvious or prominent sign or other notice at the entrance that the store does not keep more than $50 in cash at a single time
  • No signs in the windows that would obstruct views from the sales floor or cash register to the outside of the store
  • Height limit markers at the entrance of the store
  • Policies or procedures to limit cash on hand after 11 p.m.
  • Silent alarms connected to police or sheriff’s department or private security agency

When a murder, rape, sexual assault, or robbery has occurred at a convenience store, the owner or operator must also have at least one of the following measures:

  • At least two employees at all times between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Closing hours between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Locking the business to indoor transactions between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Common Premises Liability Injuries

A premises liability incident can wreak serious injuries or even death. According to the Florida Department of Health, in 2021, deaths from unintentional falls numbered 4,178. That translates to nearly 12 per every 100,000 Floridians. Falls rank as the leading cause of death for those age 65 years or older.

Aside from fatalities, hazards on premises result in serious injuries. These include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries such as concussions
  • Fractured vertebrae, knees, elbows, legs, and hands
  • Bruises
  • Spinal cord strains and tears
  • Lacerations

From these injuries may come paralysis, loss of memory, significant pain, anxiety, depression, and impaired motor skills. If you suffer an injury from a falling object, liquid or other things on the floor, or a criminal attack, your injuries may allow you to recover for:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses for emergency room visits, hospital stays, medication, physical therapy, rehabilitation, walkers, wheelchairs, other medical aids, and doctor’s visits
  • Lost ability to work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disruption of marital relations, otherwise known as loss of consortium

Preparing for a Premises Liability Case in Lake Worth

In Florida, you have two years from the date of the incident to sue the premises owners for negligence. If you pursue a premises liability case, your lawyer will want any photographs or video you took of the condition or incident, security camera footage, witnesses, store or police reports, and medical records.

Call The Law Offices of James G. Graver for a free consultation. We will help you understand the personal injury claims process and work towards your best settlement as you recover from your injuries.