Although most people immediately think of slipping and falling, there are actually a few different types of premises liability matters. Injuries may occur due to a dangerous condition on the property that the owner knew about and failed to fix, when an employee acts in a negligent manner and causes harm to a customer, or when the property owner fails to post warning signs for hazardous areas.
Premises liability can be tricky, and especially in the context of Texas law. Read on to explore the elements of a premises liability claim, the responsibilities of a property owner, and the nuances of premises liability law in different circumstances and how a Bryan premises liability lawyer can help.
Premises liability law generally holds a property owner accountable for injuries sustained on their property due to a dangerous condition they knew about or should have known about.
Premises liability law doesn’t only apply to situations where someone slips and falls on someone else’s property; there’s a spectrum of scenarios that may give rise to a premises liability claim for which a Bryan premises liability attorney can help. These can range from swimming pool accidents and dog bites to inadequate security measures.
A key element in premises liability lawsuits is establishing that the property owner knew, or should have known, about the dangerous condition on their property. For example, if a customer in a grocery store slips and falls due to a spilled liquid, the store could be held liable if it can be proven that the store employees knew about the spill and did nothing to clean it up or warn visitors.
Conversely, if the spill happened just a moment or two before the fall, it would be unreasonable to expect the store employees to have addressed the hazard.
A “dangerous condition” in premises liability law refers to any situation on a property that poses a risk of injury to visitors. This could be a physical hazard like a hole in the ground, icy walkways, loose carpeting, or a wet floor.
But, premises liability also covers other less obvious dangers. For instance, if a property owner failed to provide adequate lighting in a parking lot and a person was assaulted there, there is a possibility this could qualify as a dangerous condition. Your Bryan premises liability lawyer will be able to tell you more about whether your accident qualifies as happening under a “dangerous condition.”
The extent of a property owner’s duty of care towards visitors depends on the legal status of the visitor. In general, visitors are categorized as invitees, licensees, or trespassers.
The property owner owes the highest duty of care to invitees—persons invited onto the property for the owner’s benefit, like customers in a store. For licensees—social guests, for instance—the owner has an intermediate duty of care. Lastly, for trespassers, the duty is minimal.
Landlords have a particular duty to ensure a safe environment for their tenants. They must keep their property safe and free from dangerous conditions. If a tenant or their guest is injured due to the landlord’s negligence, such as failure to repair a broken staircase, the landlord could be held liable.
Duty of care is the responsibility a property owner has to maintain a safe premises for visitors. The level of care required varies based on the visitor’s legal status, as discussed earlier, and the nature of the property.
In a premises liability case, an injured person must establish that the property owner failed to meet their duty of care. If the property owner didn’t exercise reasonable care in maintaining the property or failed to warn about known dangers, they may be held liable for the resulting injuries.
In some instances, both the visitor and the property owner might share fault for an accident. Texas follows a system called comparative fault, which means that the compensation a plaintiff can receive will be reduced by their percentage of fault in the accident.
For example, if you slipped and fell on a wet floor in a store, but you were running at the time, a court might find you 20% at fault and reduce your damages accordingly by 20%.
Premises liability insurance is a specific type of coverage that protects property owners from liability claims stemming from injuries caused on their property. This can cover medical bills and legal costs in case of a lawsuit.
It’s different from other policies such as homeowners’ insurance, which primarily covers property damage from incidents like fire, theft, or weather damage, but may also include some liability coverage.
To succeed in a premises liability claim, the injured party must establish several factors. First, they must show that the defendant owned, leased, occupied, or otherwise controlled the property where the injury occurred.
Second, they need to prove the defendant’s negligence by demonstrating that they were aware of a dangerous condition on the property but did nothing to correct it or warn visitors. Third, it needs to be established that this negligence directly resulted in the injury.
Proving that a property owner was negligent is crucial in premises liability cases, but it can also be difficult, especially without a Bryan premises liability lawyer to help you. Proving liability can involve showing that the owner failed to maintain the property, ignored a hazardous condition, or did not warn visitors of potential risks.
Detailed documentation can strengthen a claim, such as photographs of the dangerous condition, medical records, or eyewitness accounts. An experienced premises liability lawyer can help gather this evidence and build a strong case.
A premises liability case can arise from a wide range of incidents.
Each case is unique and depends on specific circumstances and evidence.
The following are examples of potential causes for premises liability actions:
A good example of a premises liability lawsuit might involve a customer at a grocery store who slipped on a puddle of water near the refrigeration units. If the store employees were aware of the spill but did nothing to clean it up or warn customers, and as a result, the customer fell and suffered an injury, the store could be held liable. In this instance, the grocery store failed to uphold its duty of care to provide a safe shopping environment for its customers.
Another example would be a dog that has been known to bite and whose owner does not take reasonable care to secure it. If known dangerous animals are not properly secured, get loose, and then bite someone, as a general rule, the owner can be held liable.
Due to the complexities of Texas premises liability law, it is important to seek advice from an experienced premises liability attorney. In order for a premises liability claim to be successful, it must be proven that the property owner knew or should have reasonably known of the hazard, and/or that the property owner’s negligence was the cause of the hazard’s existence. It is often essential to show evidence that the property owner knew about the condition prior to the injury. In order to give your case the best chance of success, you should document as much evidence as possible and contact an attorney with specific knowledge and experience in premises liability law.
In any contact with employees or company representatives, do not apologize, take any responsibility for the accident, or mention that you are going to call an attorney. Company representatives or their attorneys may attempt to get you to provide a recorded statement or accept a settlement offer. These people are not looking out for your best interests.
Premises liability law generally provides the least protection to trespassers, or individuals who enter a property without permission. However, there are exceptions, especially when it comes to children. This brings us to the concept of an “attractive nuisance.”
The attractive nuisance doctrine assumes a child can’t distinguish between what is safe and what isn’t. It holds property owners responsible for failing to prevent a child from reaching something dangerous that they might think it would be fun to explore.
The attractive nuisance doctrine assumes that young children don’t understand hazardous conditions and can be reasonably expected to trespass if attracted by something especially interesting to a child, like a pool or trampoline: therefore, the age of the child is crucial in these cases.
For the property owner to be liable for the injury, the child must have been young enough that they could not understand the hazard. So, for example, if a trespassing four-year-old child drowns in an unsecured pool, the owner is very likely to be held at least partly liable. If a trespassing 13-year-old drowns in that same pool, the question of liability may not be so clear-cut to the court.
Navigating these types of claims requires a detailed understanding of the law, strong evidence, and strategic legal action. If you or a loved one has been injured on someone else’s property due to their negligence, get advice from a skilled Bryan premises liability attorney right away.
Premises liability law plays a critical role in holding property owners accountable for maintaining a safe environment. It provides a legal avenue for individuals to seek compensation for injuries suffered due to the negligence of property owners. Always remember, whether you’re a property owner or a visitor, understanding the principles of premises liability is a significant step in ensuring your legal rights are protected.
If you or someone you know has been injured due to a property owner’s negligence, reach out to Brian C. Gutierrez, Attorney at Law, at 979-271-5338 for a free consultation and discover more about your rights and the smart next steps to take.