Legal Memorandum: Barring Recovery for Inherently Dangerous Operations

Issue: When does the inherently dangerous activity apply to bar recovery under Florida law?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence, Real Estate Law
Keywords: Inherently dangerous operations or hazardous work; Bar recovery; Absent any negligence on the part of the contracting owner
Jurisdiction: Florida
Cited Cases: 677 So.2d 301
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 09/01/2000

        A property owner is not liable for injuries suffered by an independent contractor doing inherently dangerous operations or hazardous work only if the property owner does not commit any negligent acts or omissions.  Florida Power and Light Co. v. Price, 170 So.2d 293, 298 (Fla. 1964) (emphasis added).  In Florida, an activity is inherently dangerous if, in its ordinary course of performance, it would "probably, and not merely possibly, cause injury if proper precautions were not taken."  Price, 170 So.2d at 295; Doak v. Green, 677 So.2d 301, 302 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1996) (emphasis added).  A trial court may not decide whether work is inherently dangerous as a matter of law without factual record and without the matter having been settled by statute or case law with regard to the specific work involved.  Doak, 677 So.2d at 302.  Except under those narrow circumstances, this is a fact question for the jury.  Id.

"The ..  injury to… [an independent contractor’s] employee in the course of the performance of the inherently dangerous work absent any negligence on the part of the contracting owner absolves the [owner] from liability…  The independent contractor is usually… responsible for all incidental contingencies and is aware or presumed to be aware of the usual hazards incident to the performance of his contract.  Unless… it is shown the contracting owner by positive act of negligence or negligent omission… causes injury to the independent contractor… such owner will not […]

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