Legal Help After a Premises Injury
The area of law dealing with liability for injuries suffered on someone else’s property is commonly referred to as premises liability. Incidents that could lead to a premises liability claim range from a supermarket slip-and-fall accident to a swimming pool accident on someone else’s property. Premises liability law in Texas can be complex and challenging to navigate.
The experienced Dallas slip and fall attorneys at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP have a successful track record of representing people injured as a result of someone else’s negligence. Call us for more information about pursuing your legal rights. You can reach us at (214) 231-0555.
What Does Premises Liability Mean?
In Texas, the notion of premises liability essentially means that anyone who owns, occupies or manages a piece of real estate is responsible to the public to keep their property reasonably safe. How safe it needs to be may depend on the definition of the person who was injured in relationship to the property. He or she may be:
- An Invitee. This is a person who was invited onto the property for some purpose or another. It may be a social guest, or a retail store customer but the person entering the property is doing so at the “invitation” of the owner or manager of the property. The invitation does not need to be formal.
- A Guest. Any welcome visitor. There may not have been an “invitation” per se, but a guest is, as the name implies, someone who is welcomed to the property.
- A Licensee. This is someone with an independent right to enter the property because of their own interest. It might be a landlord or a tenant or any other person who has the consent of the owner.
- A Trespasser. This is someone who does NOT have permission from the owner and no independent right to be on the property.
Common Hazards that Cause Injuries
Injury accidents that lead to premises liability claims can occur as a result of many different hazards. Here are a few examples of locations where such incidents could occur:
- Stores and supermarkets: Wet floors, falling merchandise, and aisles that are littered with debris could result in slipping and tripping accidents.
- Apartment complexes: It is common for visitors and residents to suffer injuries as a result of broken steps, dangerous swimming pools, structural instability, faulty railings, and malfunctioning equipment.
- Office buildings: A lack of fire alarms, uneven flooring, and poorly maintained walkways can prove dangerous for tenants and visitors to these buildings.
- Hotels: Hotel owners must make sure their properties are well-maintained and have adequate security. Poorly functioning or defective elevators or escalators in any of the above-mentioned locations can also cause visitors or residents injury due to the owner’s failure to ensure proper maintenance of the equipment.
- Parking lots: Poorly designed parking lots, uncovered drain holes, and unmarked drop-offs can all lead to hazardous situations.
- Homes: Rotten decks and porches, inadequate fencing around swimming pools, and faulty steps can all lead to serious injuries.
Proving a Premises Liability Case in Dallas
To be successful with their premises liability claim, injured victims must prove the following:
- They suffered an injury. This can be accomplished with photographs, medical records, and witness testimony.
- A hazardous condition or defective product on the premises caused the injury. Photographs of the defect can be very useful in proving that a dangerous condition existed on the premises.
- The property owner, manager, or an employee was negligent in their duty to maintain safe premises. When a property owner neglects their responsibility to maintain safe premises, they can be held liable for any injuries, damages, or losses caused. Negligence is a crucial element of a premises liability claim.
Third-Party Premises Liability Cases
The hazards listed above focus on the maintenance and condition of property itself, and its effect on the safety of users. Sometimes, however, an injury caused by a separate factor can still be considered premises liability when the victim is on another person’s property.
For example, a dog bite can be considered a premises liability case because the presence of a dangerous dog is an unsafe condition on someone’s property – whether or not the property owner is the owner of the dog. For example, if you are shopping at a retail store that allowed a customer to shop with his dog and are bitten by that dog, you may be able to bring a case against the shop owner. Even though it was not the shop owner’s dog that bit you, the shop still owes a reasonable duty of care to anyone lawfully on the property, especially when you are an invited guest.
When proving a dog bite premises liability case, you would need to first prove that the dog bite occurred inside the store, using photos and medical records. Next, you would need to prove that you were not warned by the store of the potential for dangerous animals, which shows that the store owner was negligent and did not provide reasonable care. In this example, it may be in your best interest to bring a case against both the store owner and the dog owner, who may be considered liable under the one-bite law in Texas.
Another example of premises liability that does not involve the physical condition of the property is assault. If you are assaulted by a third party on property where you have a legal right to be, the property owner may be held responsible.
For example, if you are assaulted in a bar that overserved the perpetrator of the assault, you may be able to hold the bar liable for your injuries, especially when the individual’s blood alcohol content is above the legal limit, and alcohol appears to be a contributing factor in the assault. In a case like this, the establishment may be held liable because they should have foreseen the danger of overserving an aggressive patron and thus they did not provide a reasonably safe environment for you, their patron.
Property owners may also be held responsible for inadequate security in apartment buildings or offices. Under premises liability, owners of these buildings have a duty to prevent foreseeable crimes through reasonable security measures. At large apartment buildings and offices, this may be achieved by having a doorman or security guard on the first floor. Smaller apartment buildings or offices may have rules outlined as to when front and back doors are to remain locked in an effort to provide a reasonably secure building. If owners do not take these precautions to keep dangerous people off the property, they may be considered liable to the victims of any crimes.
Contact an Experienced TX Premises Liability Lawyer at (214) 231-0555
An experienced Dallas personal injury lawyer can help injured victims receive support for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, future medical treatments, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP can help. Call us at (214) 231-0555 to schedule a no-cost case evaluation.