Florida Premises Liability Law – “Natural Conditions”

There is a distinct lack of unanimity throughout the country regarding the appropriate duty, if any, of a landowner for dangers presented by natural hazards on the landowner’s property. One camp applies the so-called “agrarian rule,” which provides that a landowner owes no duty to persons harmed by natural conditions on the land. The other camp applies the principle that a landowner may owe a duty of care for dangers posed by natural conditions when an invitee uses the property in a reasonable manner. (See this blog for the meaning of the legal term “invitee.”)

(Examples of such natural hazards include: tree roots obscured by leaves; view of sidewalk blocked by foliage; hole in ground covered by tall grass; traffic control device – e.g., stop sign, yield sign – obstructed by tree branches.)

Thankfully, Florida falls into the latter camp.

Duty alone, however, does not automatically lead to the imposition of liability on the landowner. A second, imperative element, must also be shown: namely, that the defendant’s conduct foreseeably and substantially caused the specific injury which actually occurred. In layman’s terms, this means that the duty breached must be the foreseeable cause of the injury. For example, it is not enough to complain that a dangerous hole exists on a landowner’s property, when the accident was caused by some other factor.

In addition, the injured person’s own conduct will be considered for comparative fault, with any comparative fault subtracting from the landowner’s degree of fault.

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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.