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Florida Court Upholds Jury Verdict Denying Duty to Trespasser

A Florida appeals court has upheld a jury verdict against a woman who was shot in the leg at a Naples, Florida, apartment complex, rejecting the woman’s argument that the owners of the residential structure had a duty to provide adequate security that would have prevented the accident.

Under the legal theory known as premises liability, it has long been held that property owners have a duty to maintain the premises in such a way as to minimize the likelihood of injury to persons legally on the premises. In essentially every jurisdiction, the courts have held that the duty varies, based on the relationship of the injured person to the land. If the person is considered an invitee, i.e., someone personally invited on to the property or someone who has come onto the property to enter into a potential business relationship with the owner/operator, the duty is to use reasonable means to monitor and detect potentially dangerous situations, and to either remedy the risk or adequately warn visitors of the potential risks.

Where the injured person is considered a trespasser–someone expressly told to stay off the property, someone entering the property for illegal purposes, or even someone remaining on the property without the knowledge or permission of the owner/operator, courts have generally held that there is no duty, other than the duty not to intentionally harm the trespasser/visitor.

In the Florida case, the injured party had been repeatedly told that she was not allowed on the premises of the apartment complex. She contended that, because the injury was sustained because of a lack of adequate security, rather than from property defects, that the apartment complex had breached its duty to provide adequate security, and that she had a right to compensation.

The court concluded that negligent security cases are not distinguishable from property defect cases with respect to the duty owed. If a person was on the property illegally or without permission, the status as trespasser will be a bar to recovery.

Contact the New Jersey Premises Liability Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr

At the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr, we have fought for the rights of personal injury victims in central New Jersey for more than four decades. We carefully choose the cases we handle, so that we can provide the highest levels of service and personal attention to each client. We are also happy to take over your case, if your first lawyer does not seem to have your best interests in mind.

To set us a free initial consultation, send us an e-mail or call our office at 732-537-8570.

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