Premises liability is a legal concept affecting personal injury cases when the injury results from a defective or unsafe condition on someone’s property.
Premise Liability Claims
A premises liability lawsuit holds the property owner liable for damages derived from an injury on their property or premises, as the case may be. For a premises liability case to be successful, the injured party must establish that the property owner was negligent in their ownership &/or maintenance of the property. Generally, this negligence refers to a failure of the property owner to reasonably care for their property.
Premise liability cases, like other personal injury cases, are established based on negligence. Accordingly, a straightforward injury on someone’s property does not alone prove negligence. Additionally, an unsafe condition does not automatically deem the property owner negligent. For the case to hold water, you must prove that the property owner knew or reasonably should have known that the premises were in an unsafe state and failed to correct the condition.
Typical Premise Liability Injuries
A wide range of scenarios falls under the premises liability claim. You’ll see even dog bite cases potentially qualify as premise liability because the presence of a potentially dangerous dog could qualify as an unsafe condition. For the most part, the injuries that prompt a premise liability case include:
- escalator and elevator accidents
- dog bites and animal attacks
- swimming pool accidents
- amusement park accidents
- water leaks or flooding
- toxic chemicals or fumes
- slip and falls
- ice and snow accidents
- inadequate maintenance of the premises
- defective building security leading to injury or assault
- gym injuries
Who can file a premise liability suit in Texas?
Generally, any person(s) injured on another person’s property can file a premises liability claim if they suspect negligence of some kind was a factor. There is one exemption: if the injured person(s) was trespassing at the time of the accident, they can’t file a claim unless the property owner deliberately caused injury to the trespasser or caused harm through gross negligence.
In cases where injury sustained on another’s property resulted in a fatality, the deceased’s family members may file a wrongful death claim for damages.
For a premises liability claim to be successful in Texas, the injured party must establish the following three items:
- a legal duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff
- a breach of legal duty
- damages caused by the breach of said legal duty
What is the Property Owner’s Duty of Care?
Property owners have a responsibility to maintain their property to reasonably safe conditions for visitors and guests. Accordingly, property owners are typically liable in a premise liability case, even if the owner wasn’t present at the time of injury. Property owners can be individuals (like a homeowner), a business (like a store owner), or a government entity (like a city pool owner).
Notable, tenants, property managers, and renters may be held liable in particular circumstances. For instance, even though Texas holds landlords responsible for the rental condition when they lease it to tenants, the tenants typically assume responsibility for injuries occurring to visitors of the rental unit thereafter.
Lastly, the duty owed by the property owner to the injured person(s) depends on the visitor classification of the injured person(s). Legally, visitors are classified as: licensees, invitees, or trespassers.
- Licensees. The property owner has consented for this person to enter their property. This visitor is on the property for their benefit (salesperson, social visit, etc.). In this case, this property owner must warn the visitor of any known dangerous conditions but not known to the licensee. In place of a warning, the property owner could remedy the dangerous condition.
- Invitees. The property owner has knowledge of and granted permission to the person for mutual party benefit, for instance, meter readers, business patrons, etc. An invitee is legally obliged a maximum duty of care. The property owner must make safe or warn of known dangerous conditions or conditions discoverable by a reasonable inspection.
- Trespassers. The property owner didn’t permit or give lawful authority for the injured party to enter. In this case, the only duty of care owed is the obligation to not cause injury willfully or through gross negligence.
“Open and Obvious” Condition Clause
Premises considered “open and obvious” are conditions that the court has determined any reasonable person(s) should see and avoid. In lament’s terms, it doesn’t matter if the injured person knew the premise was dangerous. Instead, what is crucial is if a reasonable person would understand the property was unsafe.
Law of Attractive Nuisance
This law states that a property owner may be liable for injuries to children who trespass if their injuries result from a hazardous object or condition likely to attract children. Children, of course, are unable to process such risks. This law is generally associated with objects like swimming pools, gravel pits, and construction equipment.
The law of attractive nuisances burdens the landowner with the responsibility to exhaust every resource to keep children away from the condition or object. Possibly including locking doors, installing barriers, etc.
Immediate Actions to Take if Injured on Another’s Property
- First, stay calm and call 911. Remain on the scene for emergency responders.
- Second, photograph the area. Crucially, the dangerous condition that caused your injury. The more pictures, the better. If you are too injured to document the accident, ask a witness, friend, or family member to do so on your behalf.
- Third, collect witness contact information. Gather names, addresses, and phone numbers of those who witnessed the accident. A third-party version of events could be incredibly beneficial to your claim.
- Fourth, seek medical treatment. Consult your doctor and obey their treatment. Save all diagnoses, medicine and treatment prescribed. It’s essential that you take steps to heal, so the defense can’t claim you didn’t try to recover or that you weren’t seriously injured.
- Fifth, to reiterate- document everything. Beyond saving correspondence, reports, bills surrounding your accident, record your version of events as soon as possible while the memory is fresh. You must recall as many details as possible.
Avoid Contacting the Property Owner’s Insurance Company
While some insurance adjusters want to get the accident facts, others want to manipulate you into incriminating yourself to deny your insurance claim. One of our personal injury attorney Austin can communicate with the owner’s insurance companies on your behalf. Our experienced attorneys will be able to move the claim towards a fair resolution.
Personal Injury Attorney Austin
Retaining the services of counsel will ensure you have the best outcome possible for your claim. In addition to communicating with the property owner’s insurance company, our lawyers will expertly gather evidence, expert witnesses and negotiate with all parties. Plus, retaining counsel warns the opposing party that you are not afraid to go to court.
To find out how we can help you, contact an Personal Injury Attorney Austin at 512-400-7070 or send us a message. We will schedule an initial client consultation to review your case details and lay out a game plan for your personal injury case. Additionally, we will not charge you for our services unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for your case. Whether you are dealing with a railroad accident, the manufacturer of a defective product, or an insurance company, AZ Law Firm will pursue the legal action necessary to secure justice and financial restitution for you and your loved ones.
- evaluating and explaining to you the pros and cons of your individual case
- discussing with you any available options and our proposed strategies as it relates to your case
- providing guidance and recommendations regarding any proposed settlement offer
- quickly and effectively communicating with you during each step of the process so that you are not left in the dark
- taking your case solely on a contingent fee basis
- and aggressively protecting and defending your rights
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Accordingly, the attorneys at AZ Law Firm will always provide you with a free initial consultation. During this initial consultation, one of our personal injury attorneys will evaluate your case, inform you of any legal options that may be available, and allow you to ask any questions that you may have. AZ Law Firm offers affordable rates for all our clients and will work with you on payment plans. Our firm accepts checks, debit cards, and most major credit cards to cover the costs of your legal representation.