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May 18

Guide to Texas Premises Liability Incidents

Guide to Texas Premises Liability Incidents

What happens if you are injured on another person’s property?

The Texas property owner can be held responsible for injuries suffered by visitors to his property. This depends on several factors, including the classification of the visitor.

The term “premises liability” refers to rules that Texas property owners must follow to ensure that their property is safe for visitors.

There are many types of premises-related liability actions. These include swimming pool accidents, dog bites, slips, falls, and amusement park accidents.

Premises liability: The basics

The plaintiff (the injured person) must prove the following three things in Texas to prevail in a premises liability case:

  1. The defendant owes the plaintiff a legal obligation
  2. Breach of this legal obligation
  3. Infliction of damages due to breach of this legal obligation

In a premises liability case, the defendant’s duty to the plaintiff depends on the plaintiff’s classification at the time that the injury occurred. Visitors can be classified as licensees or invitees.

  • Licensees – This person is the one who has permission from the owner to enter the property. The person may be on the property as a social guest or salesperson. The licensee has the responsibility to warn the owner of any hazardous conditions on the property that are known to them but not to the licensee (holes, loose steps, or sharp objects). The property owner may also make sure that dangerous conditions are not created.
  • Invitees: An invitee is a person who enters the property with permission and knowledge of the owner and for the mutual advantage of both sides (meter readers, business patrons, etc.). The owner must give the invitee the highest level of care. Any dangerous conditions the owner is aware of or could have found with reasonable inspection must be warned or made safe.
  • Trespassers – A trespasser is someone who enters another person’s property without permission or legal authority. A trespasser has one duty: not to cause injury willfully, intentionally, or by gross negligence.

This is quite a lot. Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario to clarify things:

Example of premises liability

Gibson has a guitar shop on 6th Street in Austin. The shop is located inside an old house, accessed from the front porch.

Janis wants to buy a guitar, so she decides to go to Gibson’s store. Janis breaks her ankle while walking up the front porch steps. Janis sues Gibson to recover her injuries.

Will Gibson be held responsible?

Janis is a guest because she entered the land to benefit them (Janis can purchase a guitar while Gibson can sell it). Janis is a guest, so Gibson owes Janis the duty to warn Gibson or ensure that Janis is safe from any potentially dangerous conditions.

Even though Gibson didn’t know that the step was rotten in this instance, he could still have found it with a reasonable inspection. Janis was obligated to fix the step or warn him about the rotten step. Janis’ injury can be attributed to Gibson, who did not fix the step.

The law of nuisance

Property owners need to understand the law of attractive disturbance. This states that landowners may be held liable for injuries to children who trespass on their land.

Landowners must take all necessary steps to prevent children from coming near the object or condition by a law known as “attractive nuisance.” This could include installing barriers or locking doors.

Tip: In cases involving swimming pool accidents, the law of attractive nuisance is often in play.

Defenses against premises liability lawsuits

If one of these scenarios is proven, a property owner can avoid liability in a premises liability case:

  • The injured person was aware that the danger was there before they were hurt. For example, the injured person may have known the step was rotten but still decided to climb it.
  • The dangerous condition was evident and open to view (a condition is considered “open and obvious” when a reasonable person would have seen it and avoided it).
  • The misuse of property can lead to injury.

What happens if someone gets hurt while working on your home?

What if a contractor cleaning your gutters fails to attach the gutters properly? What about insurance questions? Who is liable?

Chapter 95 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code states that a property owner cannot be held responsible for injuries caused by an independent contractor because they fail to provide a safe work environment.

  • Property owners have some control over the work being done, but they cannot stop or halt it. They can also inspect the progress.
  • The danger was known to the property owner.

What damages can be claimed in a case involving premises liability?

If you are found to be responsible, you may be entitled to compensation for the following:

  • Future and past medical care
  • The two most painful things in life are suffering and pain
  • Emotional scarring
  • In some cases, legal costs

Punitive damages are available if the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent or intentional.

Tip: Find out how much your injury case is worth.

What to do if someone injures you on their property?

You should immediately take a few steps after an injury to someone else’s property.

  • Step 1. Step 1. Call 911 to get help. Wait for emergency services to arrive.
  • Step 2. Step 2. Take photographs of the area. If you fall on a rotten floor, take photos from multiple angles. More photos are better. If you are too hurt to take photos, ask a family member, friend, or witness to do it for you.
  • Step 3. Step 3. If you decide to file a claim, their version of events may be helpful.
  • Step 4. Step 4. It is not acceptable for the defense to claim that you didn’t do your best or were not hurt.
  • Step 5. Step 5.

Last but not least, make sure you speak to a Texas, personal injury lawyer about your case. Your lawyer will protect your rights and ensure you get the best possible recovery.

Questions about premises liability that are frequently asked

Let’s first look at some frequently asked questions about premises liability.

Here are some examples of premises liability cases.

Premises liability can be described as a broad area of personal injury law covering all types of accidents. This law area can be applied to both physical injuries and property damage. These are some of the most common types of premises liability claims:

  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Slip and fall
  • Animal attacks and dog bites
  • Staircase falls
  • Amusement park accidents
  • Mishaps with escalators and elevators
  • Gym injuries
  • Negligent security

Texas has a statute that allows you to file premises liability claims.

If negligence is suspected, anyone injured on someone else’s property may file a premises liability case. This exception is only for those who were trespassing at the time of injury.

If a person is killed on another’s property, their family members can file a claim for wrongful death to receive compensation for funeral expenses and loss of future earnings.

Who is responsible in a case of premises liability?

Property owners are responsible for keeping their property safe for guests and visitors. The property owner is usually liable in premises liability cases, even if they are not at home at the time of injury. A person (such as the owner of a house), a company (such as the owner of a store), and a government agency (such as the owner of a city swimming pool) can all be considered an owner.

Renters, tenants, property managers, and landlords may also be responsible in certain circumstances. Texas law, for example, holds landlords responsible when they hand over a rental to tenants. However, tenants generally assume responsibility for any injuries sustained by visitors to the rental unit.

What is an “open and obvious condition”?

Conditions “open and obvious” refer to conditions that a court considers a reasonable person should see and avoid. It doesn’t matter if the plaintiff knew that the condition was dangerous. It is crucial to determine if a reasonable person would be able to understand the danger.

Do you need to speak with the insurance company of the property owner?

No! It’s not a good idea to speak to the owner’s insurer before consulting an attorney. Insurance adjusters are simply interested in getting the facts about an incident. Some insurance adjusters will try to get you to say something that could hurt your case to deny your claim. An experienced attorney can communicate effectively with the insurance company to move the claim towards a fair resolution. This will also keep you out of trouble.

How can I find the best premises liability, lawyer?

Make a list of local lawyers with the relevant experience, knowledge, and background to help you choose the right attorney. Check to see if they have a track record of successfully resolving similar cases.

After narrowing down your list, set up a free consultation with each attorney. (Remove attorneys who do not offer a consultation). You can meet with the attorneys to determine if they are a good match.

Are you looking to hire an attorney for your case?

You are free to manage your premises liability case on your own. You can, however, hire a personal injury lawyer to ensure the best outcome for your case. Expert attorneys have years of experience investigating cases, collecting evidence, and negotiating for insurance companies.

A lawyer involved in your case signals to the other party that you believe in it and are not afraid to go to court.

Are you eligible for free legal assistance in your premises liability case?

Your financial situation and geographic location will determine whether or not you can find a free or low-cost lawyer to help you. You might contact your local bar association’s referral service to inquire about reduced-cost or free options.

What is an injury lawyer?

Personal injury lawyers help victims of accidents who are seeking financial compensation. These funds can be used to pay for medical treatment and lost wages and provide compensation for injuries. Sometimes, a simple case may turn out to be more complex than it seems. These cases are where it is important to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Category: Premises Liability | Comments Off on Guide to Texas Premises Liability Incidents
May 18

Who Is Responsible for a Self-driving Car Accident?

Who Is Responsible for a Self-driving Car Accident?

It doesn’t matter if it is obvious who caused a crash or if the cause must be established; one thing is certain. The at-fault driver is responsible for paying for injuries and losses suffered by the other driver. It is more difficult to determine who is responsible if there is a self-driving vehicle (also known as an autonomous car).

Insurance and legal professionals are still unfamiliar with self-driving cars. Depending on the accident circumstances, liability could be assigned to the car’s manufacturer, the software developer, or the person who activated its autopilot mode. It is not always easy to get compensation for personal injuries. It is essential to consult an attorney when you are uncertain.

Self-Driving Cars Aren’t Driverless

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most car accidents are caused by human error. To make drivers safer, car companies have developed driver-assistance technology. These technologies have become standard, including cruise control, emergency brake systems, backup cameras, blind-spot detection, and lane assistance.

This automation is further advanced by self-driving vehicles. Engineers want vehicles to be able to drive themselves without the need for a driver. However, self-driving cars are not driverless. While these cars can do most of the work, a driver or operator is still required. The driver can switch on the automatic driving feature but still can control it when needed.

The Society of Automotive Engineers defines levels of automation.

  • Level 0: No automation. The driver does everything.
  • Level 1: A driver receives minimal assistance, such as power brakes and steering.
  • Level 2: Partially automated like cruise control might exist, but the driver still has control.
  • Level 3: While the car can be operated without driver control, the driver must still pay attention to the road and be ready and able to take control of the vehicle.
  • Level 4: The car can operate under certain conditions without the driver’s intervention. If they want, the driver can take over.
  • Level 5: Fully automatic vehicles that operate without the need for a driver. You may not even need a gas pedal or a steering wheel.

In a July 2016 article, we mentioned a Business Insider headline predicting that there would be 10,000,000 self-driving vehicles on the roads by 2020. In 2019, just over 1,400 vehicles and trucks were being tested by around 80 companies. Nothing beyond a Level 3 vehicle has yet to be put on the roads. It has been more challenging than expected to figure out how to get vehicles to respond to different road situations.

Although self-driving cars are unlikely to be seen on American roads soon, many drivers will. You deserve compensation if you are unfortunate enough to be struck by one.

Establishing legal precedents for self-driving crashes

Delay in rolling out self-driving vehicles is one reason for the risk of them collapsing. There have been very few accidents involving autonomous vehicles. However, autonomous vehicles are not as safe or dangerous as regular cars compiled over many decades.

There is a possibility that someone could be injured. However, there are no precedents for how courts would handle a case involving self-driving cars. When writing our 2016 article, the cars were only approved by five states.

Twenty-nine states currently have legislation regarding self-driving cars. Illinois legislation allows autonomous vehicles to be on the roads, but Missouri currently has no laws. Even though they are legal in Illinois, it is unclear who can sue if an accident occurs.

Who is responsible for a self-driving car?

There are many similarities between seeking compensation for personal injuries sustained in an autonomous vehicle accident and a regular accident. The responsible party for causing the accident must pay damages to the injured pedestrian or driver. It’s not easy to determine who or what is responsible for an accident like a normal one.

A human operator. Every self-driving car on the road right now has a driver. They will be called operators, not drivers. While they let the car do most driving, they play a vital role. They must be alert and aware of all happenings to take back control of the vehicle in case of an emergency. They could be held responsible if the operator fails to pay attention or doesn’t take action to prevent an accident from happening. Similar variables could be applied to a typical accident. Was the operator reckless, or was it unavoidable and thus not their fault?

The vehicle manufacturer. Sometimes, things go wrong with the car. Mechanical issues or failing brakes can cause a crash. There is nothing that the driver can do to prevent this. In such cases, the victim might seek compensation from the automaker/manufacturer for the defective car part that caused it.

The technology developer. Self-driving cars use many different software and sensors than a normal car. If something goes wrong, the software developers and manufacturers of sensor systems may be held responsible. It is difficult to figure out how different systems can detect all eventualities on the road. This is why self-driving cars are slowly becoming a reality. If a ball from a child rolls onto the road, the autonomous vehicle will need to rely on complex data and algorithms to “see” it and steer accordingly. Human drivers will use their judgment and reflexes. A self-driving vehicle might make a split-second decision whether to hit the ball or swerve into traffic.

It might not be possible to identify who or what caused a collision with a self-driving car. Therefore, parties may attempt to use comparative negligence to defend themselves and blame all or part of the wreck on one another. No matter who was responsible for an accident, someone injured should be fully compensated.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you if you have been injured in any vehicle accident.

Category: Self-Driving Car Accidents | Comments Off on Who Is Responsible for a Self-driving Car Accident?