What is a property owner’s obligation concerning holes on their property?

Despite the recent decline in the housing market, Florida is still one of the few states experiencing a boom in construction projects, both commercial and residential. Erecting buildings and other types of structures requires the altering, or excavation, of the terrain the building will occupy. Most buildings require footers or foundations to support the structure.  Dirt is moved around and mounds of dirt and holes are created. The mounds are easily visible and normally do not present an unreasonably dangerous conditions. Holes, however, are a different matter.  Falling into a hole can result in serious bodily injuries.

The Florida legislature recognizes that the public needs to be protected from open pits and holes that may be located on property and enacted Florida Statute 768.10. This statute holds that it is unlawful for a company of property owner to leave open any pit or other hole outside of an enclosed area that has a depth or diameter greater than 2 feet. Nothing in the statute prohibits a person or company from leaving such a pit or hole open if the hole or pit is enclosed with a fence or other type of protective enclosure that would be a safeguard against people, horses, cattle or other domestic animals falling into the same.  This statute does not apply to pits or holes made by any company or individual while bona fide engaged in actual, active mining operations. Once any such mining operation have ceased to be active, any pits and holes previously associated with the mining activities shall be like any other pit or hole and be subject to the restrictions set forth in the statute.

In the event that an individual suffers an injury as the result of the negligence of any company or individual who may have left pits or other holes open contrary to the provisions of s. 768.10, that company or individual shall be liable in damages to the injured person in an amount double the actual damages sustained, which may be recovered in any court of competent jurisdiction.

While it is important to remember that a property owner has a responsibility to keep their premises safe from unreasonably dangerous conditions, and may have liability if someone is injured while on their property, the analysis of who may be responsible for an injury should not end there. Municipalities often go on private and public property to install and maintain utilities and provide other services. Many times, in the course and scope of the municipality’s activities, ground excavation occurs. If a hole or pit is left open as a result of those activities, and someone falls in and is injured, the municipality may be found to be negligent and accountable for any injuries which may result. The same is true for private contractors such as swimming pool companies, cable TV installers, utilities providers and landscapers.

Have you or a loved one been injured as the result of falling in a pit or hole on another’s property? If so, you may have a claim for damages. Determining whether someone is responsible for your injury, and identifying all the parties responsible for you injury, can sometimes be difficult and confusing.  You need the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable legal professional to help you. You need a law firm like Dan Newlin & Partners. Our firm has helped over 10,000 injured people with personal injury claims, and would be honored to assist you. Call us at (407) 888-8000. The call is free, don’t hesitate. Get the answers you deserve to all of the questions you may have concerning slip and fall personal injuries. Call today, call now.