Premises Liability after a Hurricane
Hurricane season is upon us, and early indications are that it will be particularly active. Already, Florida has seen several named tropical storms, and more dangerous storms could be on the horizon. When a hurricane or tropical storm comes crashing on our state, the damage is considerable. Strong winds can blow over trees and compromise building structures. Heavy rains can damage property as well.
Homeowners are not generally responsible for injuries caused during a storm. After all, they aren’t in control of Mother Nature. But they do have responsibility to keep their premises safe after the storm departs. If you were injured on someone’s property following a storm, you might have a legal claim. Speak with a Delray Beach premises liability attorney today.
Property Owner Duties
Florida law requires that property owners keep their premises reasonably safe for those they invite in. For example, if you are going to reopen a business after a hurricane, you need to have loose tiles fixed and trees cleared from the parking lot. This only makes sense. Before you invite someone to visit you, you should make your property safe. Owners owe the highest duty of care to people they invite onto the property.
This duty typically requires going around and inspecting the property after a hurricane. You don’t want some hidden defect on the property to end up hurting someone, and owners can be held liable when someone is harmed by a defect the owner should have known about.
Fixing Defects in a Reasonable Time
Hurricanes and other storms cause widespread destruction. When a storm hits, an entire city or county can be devastated. Obviously, repairing the property takes time, and the law recognizes this fact. However, you should not delay getting the premises fixed.
Owners also should not invite someone onto the premises until hazards are removed, no matter how badly they need to reopen to begin making income. For example, a store is inviting a lawsuit if they quickly reopen even though the owners should know the roof is unstable. Private homeowners also should not invite people into their home until they have repaired hazards.
Warning of Defects
If you cannot immediately fix a defect, owners should warn visitors of them. For example, a building might be generally sound, but some ceiling tiles are loose in a corner of the store. The owner might put up barriers to keep people from entering the area.
Some people might also come onto a person’s property without permission. It is a good idea to warn them of any hidden defects with signs, barriers, sawhorses, etc. until the problem is fixed, even if the law does not technically require that you warn these people of them.
Were You Injured on Someone’s Property?
Hurricanes cause millions of dollars in property damage. But personal injuries are also expensive, and you might have a legal claim if a property owner was negligent in making repairs after a storm. Negotiating a settlement or filing a lawsuit is a good step toward getting compensation to cover your medical expenses and other losses.
Contact Earnhart Law today. We offer free consultations to those who call 561-265-2220.