You probably know that property owners have a duty to maintain their premises in a safe condition and free from reasonably foreseeable hazards. You might also be aware that there are limitations on this legal obligation. Under Florida law, property owners cannot be held liable in a lawsuit when a trespasser is hurt on their property. Even if you did not realize this limitation, you can understand the logic: The owner or party in control over the premises should not have to pay compensation to someone who was not legally present on the property.
There are exceptions to the trespassing rule, however, and one is of particular interest in Florida – where so many households and homeowners’ associations have installed pools. A Miami premises liability attorney can explain the operation of the “attractive nuisance” rule and how it affects your rights. An overview of the duty of property owners, limitations, and exceptions may also be helpful.
Property Owners’ Duties and Trespassers
According to the Florida statute, property owners are immune to lawsuits from trespassers that enter the premises and are injured by dangerous conditions. The term “immune” means that the landowner cannot be sued in court for monetary damages by the injured trespasser. However, the law does state that the owner or entity in control over the property does have distinct duties depending on the nature of the trespasser:
- The owner must refrain from intentional misconduct that causes injury to an undiscovered trespasser, though there is no duty to warn of dangerous conditions.
- The owner must avoid gross negligence or intentional conducted that harms a trespasser whose presence is known. That party must also warn a discovered trespasser about hazards that are not readily observable by others.
Application of the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
Another section of the premises liability statute on trespassers states that the law does not affect the concept of the attractive nuisance. This historic common law doctrine provides that a landowner can be held responsible for injuries to someone who was lured to a dangerous condition because of its attention-getting nature. The classic example is a child who trespasses on property because he or she sees a swimming pool. In other words, it is possible to recover compensation by showing that the property owner was negligent in maintaining the premises – and that the attractive nuisance doctrine prevents that party from raising the defense of trespassing. A parent may be able to obtain monetary damages for:
- Medical costs;
- Lost wages, if the parent misses work to care for the child; and,
- Losses for pain and suffering.
Consult With a Miami Premises Liability Lawyer About Your Options
If you or your child was injured on property, you may have legal rights despite the limitations on trespassing under Florida premises liability laws. Since the attractive nuisance rule can be complicated, it is wise to trust our team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA to pursue your remedies. To learn more about how our premises liability attorneys can help, please contact our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL to set up a free consultation.