Common Law Versus Statutory Duties of Miami Property Owners

louis-renaudineau-hPSobsDtXQo-unsplash-copy-300x200When you are hurt because of dangerous conditions on property, you may have legal options to recover compensation under the theory of premises liability. In general, this legal concept imposes a duty on owners to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition for those who enter upon it. If they breach this duty, they can be liable to pay monetary damages to an injured victim. The main issue in many premises liability cases is what acts or omissions would constitute a breach of duty. 

At times, the breach may be a result of general negligence, but an accident may also occur because a property owner violated a law. The distinction matters, and a Miami premises liability attorney can explain why. You might also benefit from reviewing some of the basics regarding common law and statutory duties of property owners.

Legal Basis for Injuries on Dangerous Property

There are four elements you must prove to recover compensation in a premises liability claim based upon negligence. You must show:

  • The property owner had a duty to maintain the premises in safe order;
  • That person or entity breached this duty;
  • The breach of duty directly caused the accident in which you were injured; and,
  • You suffered losses because of getting hurt.

Property Owner Duties Under Common Law and by Statute

As it pertains to the duty of property owners under #1, the source may be:

Common Law: This body of law comes from case precedent and court findings, through which negligence concepts have developed over many years. At some point in our nation’s history, a court found that an injured victim should recover compensation because the property owner did not take reasonable precaution to maintain a safe premises.

Statutory Law: Lawmakers at the federal, state, and local level enact statutes regarding a property owner’s duty to keep the space hazard-free. The Florida Building Code, Miami-Dade County Building Code Enforcement, and many other statutes impose many obligations related to safety, such as:

  • Installing and maintaining smoke detectors and fire prevention measures;
  • Protecting against environmental hazards, such as lead paint, mold, and asbestos;
  • Repairing loose railings, balconies, stair cases, and other structures;
  • Including hurricane resistant features in new construction and renovations; and,
  • Many more.

As such, a statute could be the source of the property owner’s duty. A violation of the statute is direct evidence that the person or entity engaged in negligent acts or omissions, which is why the concept is sometimes termed “negligence per se.” Though you must still prove the other elements described above, evidence of a statutory violation makes a strong case for premises liability.

Consult with a Miami Premises Liability Attorney About Your Rights

Whether you were hurt on property because of negligence or negligence per se, it is critical to retain a lawyer to represent you. Our team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA can assist with filing an insurance claim, but we are equally prepared to take your case to court as necessary to protect your rights. Please contact our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL to set up a free consultation regarding your circumstances.