Avoiding Liability and Litigation as a Property Owner

Property owners are at risk of being sued for a variety of reasons, including slips and falls, accidents, and even violent criminal activity committed by third parties that occurs on your property. Avoiding liability can be challenging in these situations. While property owners cannot completely eliminate the risk of being sued, there are steps that can be taken to reduce their chances of being involved in a legal dispute.

Structuring Your Assets

One of the best ways to protect yourself from litigation is to remove the incentive to go after all of the assets of the property owner.  Property owners can create a separate LLC or other business entity with limited liability protection to contain each property. This will help to shield their personal assets from being taken if they are sued. Property owners could also consider using an irrevocable trust to hold the LLCs which contain each property. This could further protect their assets from being seized in the event of a lawsuit as well as convey certain tax advantages.  

Where a property owner registers their LLC also matters. Speak to an experienced real estate and estate planner attorney to determine if a specific property would be better suited being placed within an LLC formed in a different state from where it is located. 

Responsible property owners make sure that there is adequate insurance coverage for all properties. This will help to protect the property owner and their portfolio financially in the event of a lawsuit.

By taking these steps, property owners can help to reduce their risk of being involved in a legal dispute. However, it is important to note that there is no guarantee that a property owner will never be sued. If sued, it is important that property owners consult with an experienced attorney to protect their rights.

“Responsible property owners make sure that there is adequate insurance coverage for all properties.” 

Taking Precautions

Being proactive is the best way to avoid a lawsuit. This starts with ensuring the physical safety and security of people who reside on or visit a property. 

Keeping a property in good condition, making repairs promptly and addressing any potential hazards can go a long way in protecting a property owner from liability. Liability refers to the legal responsibility for any damage, injury or harm caused by the property owner’s negligence.

If a property owner fails to keep their property in good condition or does not address potential hazards, they can be held liable for any injuries or damages that occur as a result. For example, if a visitor slips and falls on a wet floor that was not properly marked with a caution sign, the property owner could be held liable for the visitor’s injuries.

However, if a property owner takes reasonable steps to maintain the property and address any hazards, they can potentially avoid liability. For example, a property owner can keep the floors clean and dry, fix any broken stairs or handrails, and address any leaks or potential electrical hazards. Additionally, if a hazard cannot be immediately addressed, the property owner could take steps to warn visitors of the danger, such as placing warning signs or barriers around the hazard.

By keeping the property in good condition and addressing any potential hazards, a property owner is showing a duty of care to their visitors and tenants. This duty of care means that the property owner is taking reasonable steps to prevent harm or injury and can be used as evidence to show that they acted responsibly in case of a legal dispute.

Best practices for property management and maintenance include taking the following measures

  • Posting clear signage that warns of potential hazards.
  • Having adequate security measures in place.
  • Being prepared to provide evidence of your due diligence in the event of a lawsuit.
  • Documenting everything, including repairs, maintenance, and security measures.
  • Keeping good records of all visitors to your property.
  • Having a clear policy on trespassers.

By taking these steps, property owners go a long way to protecting themselves from the financial and emotional costs of litigation.

Hire an Attorney and Plan Proactively

Property owners can consult with an attorney to review their liability risks and develop a plan to reduce the chances of legal action.  Many times, legal action is only taken when the legal representation of the plaintiff determines that 1) they have a solid case and 2) the potential rewards of the case to the plaintiff make the legal action worth the time and effort.  By working with an attorney proactively, property owners can reduce their exposure in these two areas by reducing the likelihood of a lawsuit occurring, showing adequate duty of care and also reducing the availability of assets that can be subject to seizure.

South Florida Law

South Florida Law is a legal firm that combines the personalized attention of a boutique law firm with the resources and expertise of a larger law firm. This unique combination makes it the go-to legal firm for Floridians and those who invest in Florida properties.

Property owners who work with South Florida Law can benefit from its attention to detail and commitment to reducing the probability of a lawsuit occurring. The firm’s experienced attorneys work with property owners to review contracts, leases, and other legal documents to ensure they are legally sound and provide adequate protection. This proactive approach can help prevent legal disputes from arising and can save property owners time, money, and stress in the long run.

In the event of a legal dispute, South Florida Law’s litigation attorneys have the resources and experience to aggressively defend the property owner’s rights and financial interests. The firm’s litigation support team includes experienced investigators, legal researchers, and paralegals who can provide thorough support during the litigation process. This support includes gathering evidence, drafting legal documents and, when necessary, representing the property owner in court.

South Florida Law’s commitment to providing personalized attention and comprehensive support makes it a trusted legal partner for property owners in Florida. The firm’s attorneys have experience in a wide range of legal areas, including real estate law, commercial litigation, and corporate law. This breadth of expertise allows South Florida Law to provide comprehensive legal services to property owners in Florida, regardless of their legal needs.

Contact us today on (954) 900-8885 or via our contact form.

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