Defective Property Conditions
Defective property conditions can give rise to premises liability claims when injuries result from contact with those hazards. Guests at homes, hotels, restaurants or other businesses have a reasonable expectation that they can safely traverse the property without suffering injury.
At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, our personal injury attorneys have encountered numerous cases in which property owners failed to ensure stairs were properly maintained, walking surfaces were even, lighting was adequate, barriers to pools or ponds were in place and structures on site were sturdy. All of these instances are considered “defective property conditions,” and encountering one without proper warning can result in serious injury.
Depending on the nature of the defect, there could be more than one party responsible for covering damages to the injured person. In addition to the property owner, plaintiffs might pursue litigation against the operator of the site and possibly even builders or repair firms if the defect was a result of shoddy construction or maintenance work.Liability for Florida Construction Defects
Handling claims of injury resulting from construction failures requires an experienced injury lawyer possessing familiarity with Florida building codes, building technology and standard industry practice.
The International Risk Management Institute, Inc. defines a construction defect as “a deficiency in the design of a building or structure resulting from failure to design or construct in a reasonably workmanlike manner, and/or in accordance with the buyer’s reasonable expectation.” Certain kinds of defects, it is noted, have the capacity to cause the structure to fail, resulting in physical injury.
Some examples of a potentially dangerous construction defect that can result in injury include:
- Structure issues related to hold-downs (which are the brackets tying concrete to the framing);
- Improper design details on roofs, window assemblies, stairways, balconies or curtain walls;
- Foundational cracks in the concrete;
- Sloping floor substrates;
- Cracks in walls or plumbing and mechanical systems caused by structure overload.
Property owners who discover construction defects have 4 to 10 years in which to file a construction defect claim under Florida Statute §95.11(3)(c) to compel the construction company to remedy the problem and make necessary repairs.
However, filing such a claim does not free homeowners or businesses from liability for injuries resulting from construction defects on site. That’s because property owners still owe invitees an inherent duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. If repairs aren’t immediately forthcoming, then property owners are responsible for keeping guests away from the hazard or warning of its existence so they can protect themselves.
The good news for injured parties is that if such a claim has been filed, it is proof the property owner was aware of the dangerous condition—a key element in Florida premises liability cases.
Other forms of defective property conditions include (but are not limited to):
- Uneven pavement;
- Raised tree roots;
- Unfenced bodies of water;
- Loose shelving or overhead materials;
- Poorly maintained playground equipment;
- Elevator or escalator malfunctions;
- Defective doors;
- Inadequate lighting;
- Exposed wires;
- Defective handrails;
- Missing or broken stairs;
- Loose floor tiles.
Claims for injury resulting from defective property conditions are different from slip-and-fall cases in that they typically involve injury resulting from contact with an existing condition of the structure or property, as opposed to injury caused by a slip on a transitory foreign substance. For this reason, premises liability attorneys at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, know it may be easier to establish the property owner’s constructive knowledge of the condition. That means even if the defendant wasn’t actually aware of the danger, he or she should have discovered it in the course of exercising reasonable care in policing the property.Proving Defective Condition in Florida Premises Liability Lawsuit
Premises liability actions stemming from defective property conditions fall under the general umbrella of Florida negligence law. However, there are specific criteria that must be met in order for an injured person to prevail in a claim.
Claimants must prove to the court that:
- The condition of the property was unreasonably dangerous or defective;
- The property owner or other persons responsible for construction or maintenance knew or should have known about the danger on site;
- The person responsible for maintaining the site had enough time to repair the condition or at least warn others about it;
- The defective or dangerous condition was not repaired and no warning of it was offered;
- The unsafe condition was the proximate cause of the injury in question.
If you or a loved one has been injured in Southwest Florida, Contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. There are no fees or costs unless we win. Offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte.
Call 800-646-1210 for a Free Consultation