Florida Court Finds Hotel Did Not Owe Guest a Duty of Care in Recent Wrongful Death Case

Property owners owe guests a duty to ensure that their property is reasonably safe. The extent of the duty a landowner owes to a guest, however, will depend on the reason for the guest’s visit. Under Florida slip and fall law, invitees are owed the greatest duty, while trespassers are owed the lowest duty. Licensees occupy a middle ground.

Florida law distinguishes between public invitees and business invitees. A public invitee is a guest who is present on property that is generally open to the public for non-business reasons. A visitor at a public park is an example of a public invitee. A business invitee, on the other hand, is someone who is present on another’s property for some business purpose. A common example of a business invitee is a customer at a grocery store. Business invitees and public invitees are both owed the same duty by landowners. However, a public invitee may need to deal with sovereign immunity issues when pursuing a claim for compensation. Of course, to successfully bring a Florida premises liability lawsuit, the injured party must be able to show that the landowner owed them a duty, and that the landowner violated that duty.

In a recent Florida court of appeals decision, a plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased against a Florida hotel and resort following a golf cart accident that resulted in the individual’s death. The defendant hotel provided a complimentary golf cart service to transport guests around its property and on its grounds. The golf cart was not allowed to travel on roads beyond the hotel grounds, but it could drop passengers off who could then cross a highway on foot.

On the night of the golf cart accident, the decedent got into a golf cart and asked a hotel staff member to take him to a local store located on the other side of the highway outside of the hotel grounds. The bellman drove the deceased off the hotel property and stopped at the edge of the highway to drop the man off. When the man stepped off the golf cart and tried to cross the highway, he was hit by a passing car. Following the accident and the guest’s subsequent passing, the plaintiff argued that the defendant hotel had a duty to reasonably and securely transport the decedent and that the defendant failed to warn the deceased of the dangers of the open roadway that he was going to have to cross.

The court ruled that the deceased’s passing was not caused by the hotel’s breach of the duty of care that it owed to the decedent. Because the staff member who transported the deceased followed the property’s rules involving golf cart transportation and the decedent voluntarily crossed an active roadway and was subsequently hurt, the hotel was not within a foreseeable zone of risk when dropping its guest off. Because there was no foreseeable zone of risk for the incident, the hotel had no obligation to warn the deceased of potential dangers on the roadway.

The court further explained that the hotel did not undertake the responsibility to transport the decedent beyond the golf cart’s allowable limits and that the driver safely transported the deceased. Once the decedent voluntarily exited the golf cart to cross the road, the hotel no longer owed him a duty of care.

In Florida, wrongful death claims can often be complex and difficult to maneuver. Before filing a claim, potential plaintiffs should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the nuances and details of the legal system.

Call a Florida Personal Injury Attorney

If you or someone you know has been seriously injured in a Florida premises liability accident, contact Frankl Kominsky, Injury Lawyers. Our team of experienced attorneys will advocate tirelessly on your behalf to help you pursue the compensation that you and your loved ones deserve. Call us today at 561-567-0298 to schedule a free consultation with one of our team members.

Contact Information