A recent decision by the Kansas Supreme Court held that a landowner whose property abuts a rural intersection does not owe a duty of care to passing drivers to either trim those trees or remove other vegetation from the property.
Florida, meanwhile, has taken a different approach on this issue, as carefully laid out in the 2007 Florida Supreme Court case of Williams v. Davis. The conclusion involved the same issue – whether non-commercial owners of property that contains foliage that blocks motorists’ view of an adjacent intersection causing an accident with injuries should be liable. Citing the 1992 Florida Supreme Court decision in McCain v. Florida Power Corp. (which ruled that defendants who create a foreseeable zone of risk can be held negligent) and the 2001 case of Whitt v. Silverman, which based on McCain imposes a duty of care upon landowners to maintain their property free of unsafe obstructions to the view of passing motorists.
According to court records in the Williams case, a fatal Orlando car accident in August 1997 killed the daughter of plaintiff, who filed her complaint in 1999. Numerous defendants were named, but at issue before the Florida Supreme Court were allegations against just one of those, who owned property adjacent to the intersection where this fatal crash occurred. Plaintiff was in a procession of other rental car customers, driving their rented vehicles to an end destination to return her rented car. She entered an intersection as part of those procession and was struck and killed by a dump truck that struck her vehicle broadside from the left. Continue reading →