Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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A common scenario that arises when people are in the process of selling their home after purchasing a new residence involves allowing another person to live in one of the homes until the old home sells.  The short-term use might include short-term executive housing, a vacation rental, or interim housing for family members.  Our Miami-Dade homeowners insurance attorneys recognize that the situation can get complicated and financially risky when the new home is damaged before the new owners take possession.  An appellate decision out of another state raises the specter of problems associated with this scenario, especially if the people temporarily residing in the home are paying rent.

In Scura Supreme Insurance Co. v. Johnson, the court reversed summary judgment granted by the trial court because of an issue of material fact regarding whether the person residing in the insured’s home was a “resident of the household” or a “tenant.”  This question was critical because the policy defined the “insured as “you and residents of your household.”  The O’Briens owned the home and rented it on a short-term basis to a sister and her husband while they were waited for a home sale to be finalized.  Dogs belonging to the in-laws living in the home dug under the fence and attacked a neighbor and her dogs.

The dog attack victim sued the O’Briens and their in-laws and filed a separate lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment, indicating the in-laws fell within the category of “insured” individuals under the policy.  The neighbor injured in the dog attack contended that the in-laws were members of the household because they paid rent, resided in the O’Briens’ home, and used the address to register their kids for the school district.

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Household injuries occur more often than many realize.  In fact, millions of Americans are injured on residential property each year.  Those injured in their residence or at the home of another may be able to seek compensation through homeowners’ insurance for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, our South Florida homeowners’ insurance attorneys understand that household injuries can result in considerable damages that may negatively impact your future.  We assist injured individuals in seeking the compensation they are entitled to through a homeowners’ insurance claim.

Types of Household Injuries

While most of us do not consider the possibility of being injured when visiting a friend or relative’s house, visitors are at risk of injury due to a number of common household hazards.  Guests in a home may be involved in slip and fall accidents, electrical burns, drownings, and dog attacks.  Any of these accidents may be compensated for through homeowners’ compensation insurance.

Young children are perhaps the most at risk of all visitors.  Many young children drown in backyard pools each year.  Children can also drown in bathtubs and small lakes on the property.  Electrical injuries could happen to anyone, and are most often the result of faulty wires or other hazardous conditions.  Drug overdoses are additionally a common occurrence giving rise to personal injury claims.  Prescription medications which are kept within reach of children or teens may cause death or serious injuries.  Continue reading →

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What Happens If Your Tree Damages the Neighbor’s Home or Property?

Trees abound in Florida, with numerous species of palms, oaks, and pine trees growing several feet into the air.  While Floridians tend to love their trees and landscaping, disputes may arise if your tree causes damage to a neighboring property.  Our Miami homeowners’ insurance attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano have witnessed numerous falling tree arguments.  We understand that homeowners’ insurance claims for falling trees can be complex and will fight to see that our clients obtain the coverage they deserve.

Responsibilities for Tree Overgrowth

Homeowners may wonder, who is responsible for the damages that result from overgrown tree branches or roots?  The early case of Gallo v. Heller answers this question.  In the case, Gallo sued his neighbor claiming that several of Heller’s trees were causing damage to Gallo’s property.  The Third District Court of Appeal held that Gallo could not recover damages from Heller for the encroachment of his trees, but he could take the measures necessary to trim or cut any infringing roots that ended up on Gallo’s property.  Continue reading →

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Dog attacks can be tragic both for the dog owner as well as the victim, as some dogs are put down after injuring or killing a person or another dog.  A Fresno woman recently suffered significant injuries after two pit bulls attacked her, resulting in the amputation of her left arm, among other serious injuries that have left her in critical condition.  The dogs were able to escape from a fenced yard prior to attacking the woman, and the homeowner is likely to be found liable for the injuries the woman suffered.  A big question that the injured woman (once she recovers) and homeowner may have is whether or not the homeowner’s insurance coverage includes animal liability.

At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, our South Florida Insurance Claims Attorneys devote a portion of their practice to helping homeowners resolve insurance matters that can make it difficult to move forward when you are at a loss of what to do.  Our attorneys take the time to fully understand a client’s situation to ensure they are providing the best legal representation possible.  Whether you were attacked by a dog or your dog has attacked someone else, it is important that you understand whether or not the homeowner’s insurance policy at issue has additional animal liability coverage. Continue reading →

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Assignment of benefits, commonly abbreviated as AOB, originated within the medical billing field, but has moved to the areas of auto coverage and, most recently, homeowners’ insurance claims.  An assignment of benefits is an agreement which transfers the rights of the policy holder to a third party.  As experienced homeowners’ insurance attorneys, we often see the following scenario depicts the assignment of benefits arrangement:

  • A leaky pipe sends water through the home of an insured individual;
  • The insured calls out a water mitigation company to dry out the home on an emergency basis;
  • The water mitigation company is dispatched and uses its extensive equipment to dry out the home, which includes removing baseboards and drying inside the house;
  • The company presents the homeowner with a document that includes an assignment of benefits, in which the homeowner assigns his or her rights under the insurance policy to recover insurance funds to the water mitigation company;
  • At some later point, a claim is filed with the insurance company.

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It is an unfortunate and specially sad fact of life that small children continue to lose their lives in Florida when they wonder into a backyard swimming pool and drown. A few days ago in Orlando, a 4 year-old boy somehow gained access to a neighbor’s backyard and was found by police face-down in the pool. According to newstalkflorida.com, police officers were near his house on an unrelated call when the boy’s mother approached them saying that her son was missing. Officers attempted CPR on the child, who was immediately transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Attractive Nuisance Doctrine

The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine is part of Tort Law. It states that a landowner may be held liable for injuries to children trespassing onto his land if the injury is caused by hazardous object or condition on the land that is likely to attract children who are unable to appreciate the risk posed by the object or condition. Over time, landowners have been held liable under this doctrine for injuries caused by abandoned cars, piles of lumber or sand, trampolines and swimming pools.

Plaintiffs must meet the following five conditions to prove that a landowner is liable under the doctrine:

  • That there is a dangerous condition to children on the land that the landowner should have been aware of;
  • That the owner knows or should have known that children often wonder in the area where the dangerous condition is located;
  • That the condition is dangerous and can likely cause injury or death to children because they cannot appreciate the risk;
  • That the utility to the landowner of maintaining the condition and expense of fixing the dangerous condition are minimal when compared to the risk it posses to children; and
  • That the landowner has failed to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the dangerous condition or adequately protect the children.

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People often fail to realize that a homeowner is as liable as the owner of a commercial property for a visitor’s injuries or death. In other words, a premises liability case can be filed against a homeowner the same way it could be filed against a hotel or other establishment when someone gets injured at their premises.

Swimming Pool Accidents

Swimming pool drownings are among the most common sources of premises liability cases against homeowners in South Florida. With warm weather almost all year, Florida (specially South Florida) is a place where many homes have swimming pools. Of course, not all accidental swimming pool drownings or near drownings will bring about a premises liability case. For example, the recent accidental drowning of a toddler in what appears to be his own backyard pool in South Miami is unlikely to become one. However, had it been someone else’s child, the homeowner may have had to face civil liability in court.
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