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:
- The defendant owes the plaintiff a legal obligation
- Breach of this legal obligation
- 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
- LOST LOCAL WORKERS
- 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.