Injured on Someone Else’s Property? You Have Rights!
There are many beautiful homes, businesses and properties in Houston that make our city a wonderful place to live and work. However, if a property owner is negligent in their responsibilities, it can be dangerous to be on their premises. Premises liability injuries include slip and fall injuries, injuries from dangerous conditions in public parks, injuries from improperly secured swimming pools, or car accident injuries on improperly maintained roads.
If you are injured on someone else’s property, you may be able to seek compensation under Texas premises liability laws. You can be compensated for your injuries and medical expenses, as well as your pain and suffering. It is difficult to deal with insurance companies or property owners, especially when you are trying to recover from your physical and emotional injuries. That’s when you need the services of the professional premises liability lawyers at Blass Law. Call (713) 225-1900 to schedule a consultation or request a case evaluation online.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is an area of personal injury law that deals with property owner liability issues. Property owners must establish and maintain a safe environment for anyone entering their property. This includes indoor areas, entries, sidewalks, stairwells, hallways, and the grounds surrounding the area. Texas makes a distinction in the level of responsibility based on the types of people who may be on someone else’s property:
- Invitee: An invitee receives an express or implied invitation to be on the property from its owner. This would include someone shopping in a store, diners in a restaurant, or visitors to a public park. Invitees receive a slightly higher duty of care if they remain in the generally accepted areas of the property. The owner is then responsible to use every reasonable precaution to ensure their safety. Invitees who go into purposely excluded areas of a property, such as those with “employees only” signs might, however, loose the status of an invitee.
- Licensee: An invited licensee has the owner’s consent to come onto the property for a mutually beneficial purpose. While uninvited licensees may not be invited, their presence is reasonable. These situations might be encountered in an office environment for meetings, or the home environment for a delivery or repair person. In these cases, the property owner has a duty to warn licensees of any known dangers on the property that might not be apparent, such as wet floors or uneven pavement.
- Trespasser: While a trespasser has received no specific or implied permission to be on the property, the landowner still has a duty to not cause injury to that person. In these cases, the landowner is not specifically required to keep the property in a reasonable condition or to warn trespassers of any dangerous areas.
Texas Premises Liability Laws
Under Texas premises liability law, you must prove that the property owner was aware, or should have been aware, that there was a dangerous condition and that the property owner did not correct the condition or failed to provide a warning of the condition. If a premises liability lawsuit is brought to trial, considerations that are taken into account include:
- Duty of Care: A Texas property owner has different levels of duty of care in relation to premises visitors. The duty to an invitee is to exercise reasonable care in providing a safe environment, and to disclose unreasonably dangerous conditions of which the owner is aware or should have been aware of upon reasonable inspection. With a licensee, the property owner has a duty to disclose known dangerous conditions but does not need to inspect the property to make it reasonably safe. For trespassers, the property owner has a minimal duty to not willfully or intentionally do harm. Duty may be different, however, in cases of children or an attractive nuisance.
- Breach of Duty: Depending on the level of duty, the victim must then prove that the property owner breached that duty. This involves proving that the property owner knew of the condition, or should have known, and failed to remedy it.
- Proximate Cause: This means that the negligence or breach of duty which created the danger caused your injuries. As the victim, you must be able to prove that you did not have knowledge of the apparent danger, or that you did not ignore any warning from the property owner. You must prove that you acted in a reasonably expected manner and that you did not cause your injuries.
- Resulting Damages: Once you have proved these conditions, you must then prove that your damages resulted from the accident.
What is the Texas “Attractive Nuisance Doctrine?”
Under Texas Law, a property owner has an obligation to protect children who may trespass onto their property. If a property contains features that may attract children like swimming pools, ponds, playground equipment, or piles of leaves or dirt, then the owner must act to secure or remove the elements that may likely cause injury to a child. This may mean ensuring that playground equipment is maintained in a safe manner, installing and maintaining fencing around swimming pools or ponds, and/or removing piles of dirt and debris.
Children may not fully grasp the dangers posed by a pool or pile of lumber. They may not understand the consequences of trespassing. Since children cannot appreciate these dangers, property owners must inspect their premises and address any dangerous features that may tempt children to trespass. If your child suffered an injury on someone else’s property, whether or not they had an invitation or license, you should contact the Houston premises liability attorneys at Blass Law immediately.
How to Prove Negligence in Texas Premises Liability Cases
Premises liability is closely related to negligence. While a landowner has a duty to warn licensees of unapparent dangers or to make the property safe for invitees, negligence involves specific actions or omissions which lead to an accident or injury. Examples of negligence relating to premises liability issues in Texas include:
- Surface Conditions: These might be a case where the floor is wet or slippery, and there is no effort to clean it up, or an uneven surface with no warning sign.
- Environmental Conditions: These might be staircases with loose railings, hallways with dim lighting, or electrical cords that are not covered.
- Obstacles: The property owner must keep public areas and walkways free and clear of obstacles, or to provide appropriate warning about the obstacle.
To prove negligence, you will need to gather complete documentation, obtain the testimony of witnesses, and maintain records of your medical care. This can be difficult when you are trying to recover from your injuries, so it is important to have the services of a Houston slip and fall lawyer on your side. The premises liability lawyers at Blass Law in Houston can investigate your claim, track down witnesses, and negotiate with reticent property owners and insurance adjusters on your behalf.
Common Types of Texas Premises Liability Lawsuits
Some typical types of premises liability lawsuits in Texas include:
- Slip and fall accident
- Dog bite
- Swimming pool accident
- Toxic fumes
- Wet or slippery floor
- Falling debris
Any of these incidents can lead to serious or life-long medical conditions such as a back injury, neck injury, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, emotional distress, or even wrongful death. Other premises liability issues include insufficient security or poor lighting that may cause dangerous conditions that increase the risk of sexual assault or burglary. Our experienced premises liability lawyers can help you determine the merits of you case and help you move forward with pursuing it in the Texas legal system.
Contact a Houston Premises Liability Attorney
If you or a loved one suffered a “slip and fall” injury or was injured on someone else’s property and you suspect it wasn’t your fault, contact the experienced premises liability lawyers at Blass Law. We have handled dozens of premises liability and “slip and fall” cases and we know the complicated intricacies of Texas’ premises liability laws. Let our premises liability experts handle the insurance companies and get you the best possible settlement for your case. Call (713) 225-1900 today or request a consultation online.