Status of Person on Property – Premises Liability
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Status of Person on Property – Premises Liability

| Jan 26, 2021 | Firm News

Slip and fall injuries often occur because of a dangerous condition on the property that the property owner could have prevented. Generally, property owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care in maintaining his property and ensuring the safety of third parties. However, the extent of a property owner’s duty to third parties depends on the legal status of that third party. In Florida, legal status means a category for the entrant, or a legal label assigned to the entrant primarily based on their reasons for entering the property. There are three different legal statuses Florida courts consider: Invitee, Licensee, and Trespasser.

Invitee

A property owner generally owes the highest duty of care to an invitee. Invitees are people who are invited onto a property by the property owner. There are two sub-types of invitees: business invitees and public invitees.

Historically, Florida courts only considered someone an invitee if they were invited on the property, by the property owner, for business purposes.[1] These types of invitees are considered business invitees. Usually, the business dealings have to mutually benefit both parties, not just the owner or the invitee, for the third party to qualify for business invitee status.[2]     

Eventually Florida courts realized limiting invitee status to business invitees was too restrictive. So, the courts expanded the invitee status to include public invitees. Public invitees are individuals invited to enter or remain on property that is open to the public.[3] Public invitees must be using or entering the property for the reason that it is open to the public.[4]

Finally, Florida Courts expanded the invitee status even more to include all individuals, including social guests, who are invited on the property by the owner.[5] Today, courts do not consider the invitees purpose for entering the property as much as they consider whether an invitation to enter the property was extended to the entrant.[6]

A property owner owes invitees two duties: (1) the duty to use reasonable care in maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition; and (2) the duty to warn of dangers of which the owner has or should have knowledge and which are unknown to the invitee and cannot be discovered by the invitee through the exercise of reasonable care.[7]

Licensee

A licensee is someone who chooses to enter the property for their own convenience without any evidence of an express or implied invitation to enter the property.[8] While the licensee does not have an invitation, their presence on the property is generally permitted or tolerated by the landowner.[9]   

A property owner has a duty to maintain his property in a manner as to avoid willful or wanton harm to licensees. [10] Once the owner is aware of the licensee’s presence, the land owner also has a duty to warn the licensee of any dangerous conditions.[11] Much like a landowner’s duty to invitees, the landowner is subject to these duties for conditions they know, or should have known, were dangerous.[12]

Trespasser

A trespasser is someone who enters someone else’s property for his own convenience without any right or authority to enter the property.[13] Even though a trespasser does not have any right or authority to be on the property, a property owner may still owe the trespasser a duty depending on the property owner’s knowledge of the trespasser’s presence.

If the property owner is not aware of, and does not detect, the trespasser’s presence, the trespasser is considered “undiscovered.” Typically, a property owner does not owe a duty or care nor a duty to warn of dangerous conditions to an undiscovered trespasser.[14]

If the property owner does discover or detect the trespasser on the property, the property owner has a duty to warn of any dangerous or concealed conditions on the property.[15]

In some cases, the property owner may not owe a duty of care of duty to warn a trespasser even if the trespasser is discovered. For example, if the trespasser is under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances, the owner is immune from any civil liability for the injury or death of the trespasser while on their property.[16]

If you have been injured due to a slip and fall accident or a trip and fall, please contact Michael P. Bonner, Esq. at [email protected] or call us at 305-676-8800 for a free consultation.  Mr. Bonner is an attorney with thirty years of experience handling personal injury claims.  

[1] Post v. Lunney, 261 So.2d 146, 148 (Fla. 1972)

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Wood v. Camp, 284 So. 2d 691 (Fla. 1973).

[6] Id.

[7] DiMarco v. Colee Court, Inc., 976 So. 2d 650, 651 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008).

[8] Wood v284 So. 2d at 695.

[9] Bishop v. First Nat. Bank of Fla., Inc., 609 So. 2d 722, 724 (Fla. 5th DCA 1992).

[10] Id. at 725

[11] Barrio v. City of Miami Beach, 698 So. 2d 1241 (Fla. 3d DCA 1997)

[12] Morris v. Florentes, Inc., 421 So. 2d 582, 584 (Fla. 5th DCA 1982)

[13] Seitz v. Surfside, Inc., 517 So. 2d 49 (Fla. 3d DCA 1987). 

[14] Id.

[15] § 768.075(3)(a)(3), Florida Statutes.

[16] Fla. Stat. § 768.075(1)