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Premise liability depends on what type of guest is hurt

There are many property owners in Florida. Every time someone steps onto their property an injury could happen. What happens next will depend on what category the injured person and the cause of harm fall into.

For example, property owners have a duty to ensure that invited guests on their property do not hurt themselves on dangerous property conditions due to the negligence of the property owner. These property owners also owe a certain level of care to people who are not invited onto their property as well. However, there is a lower standard of care that they owe uninvited guests.

As for uninvited folks, the general rule is that the property owner is only responsible for injuries willfully caused by the property owner. But the rule flies out the door if the uninvited guest is a child accessing "attractive nuisances" on their property, even if the child wanders onto the property without permission. Attractive nuisances can be natural or man-made.

The attractive nuisance doctrine is applicable when certain criteria are met. These criteria are: whether the dangerous object was in a place where children are likely to trespass; that the child was on the property because he or she was attracted to the dangerous object; that the property owner knew that the object could cause death or serious bodily harm to a child; that the child was too young to understand the dangers; that the object's benefit to the owner was small compared to the danger; and that the owner did not take reasonable steps to remove it or to protect children from getting to it.

Premise liability is very fact specific; liability depends on the specific circumstances. Experienced attorneys understand a property owners duty of care and may be able to protect their rights.

Source: University of Florida IFAS Extension, "Handbook of Florida Fence and Property Law: Visitors and Responsibilities to Visitors," Michael T. Olexa, Eugene E. Shuey and Patrick H. Todd, accessed on Oct. 19, 2015

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