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Premises liability may not be limited to slips, trips and falls

If you are a Florida property owner you have probably found yourself wondering at one time or another whether you have possible premises liability exposure. State law makes fairly plain that landowners are required to exercise reasonable care to be sure that any visitors on a property aren't subjected to conditions that might result in their suffering injury.

When most of us think of premises liability, we probably think of situations in which someone gets hurt after slipping or tripping and falling. But as we have noted in previous posts, it is possible for claims of premises liability to be brought in other situations -- swimming pool accidents come to mind as one example.

Another might be if you happen to become ill or disabled due to exposure to toxic substances in the water or the air. Under this heading, there could be a broad range of possible circumstances that might spark action. Consider hydraulic fracturing -- fracking -- the process used to release and capture petroleum resources trapped in shale deposits.

A map produced by the government's Energy Information Administration of sites where fracking is big business doesn't suggest that Florida would be a hotbed of activity. But it's reportedly been occurring in Collier County and is apparently enough of an issue that it's gotten attention from state lawmakers.

There might be good reason for that. Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground to create cracks that allow the extraction of natural gas deposits.

Fracking companies are often hesitant to say what chemicals they use, but academic studies have found that many of them can damage skin, eyes, lungs, the gut and more. Sand presents a potential risk of causing silicosis if proper care isn't taken. Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency have found links between fracking and groundwater contamination and air pollution.

The damage from toxic exposure might not be as readily noticeable as a slip and fall injury, but it can be just as debilitating. And if the injury could have been prevented, a premises liability situation may exist.

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