Learn more about the concept of premises liability. Also, find out who can be liable, what you need to recover compensation, and legal limitations.
You can suffer mild to severe injuries from an accident while on someone else’s property. Unfortunately, these accidents may result in permanent injury or even death in some of the most unfortunate instances. Thankfully, with the help of an experienced premises liability lawyer in Houston, Texas, you may be able to recover compensation.
Generally, property owners and managers owe their visitors a duty of care. They must ensure that their properties are not in a dangerous condition or harmful to the well-being of others. If you’ve been hurt in an accident due to the absence of this reasonable care, you can pursue a premises liability claim to recover a personal injury settlement.
Premises liability is a personal injury concept that will hold a negligent property owner accountable for injuries resulting from their property's unsafe condition. Texas, like every other state, has premises liability laws. However, these laws vary slightly from state to state.
State premises liability laws find common ground: every property owner owes occupants or visitors a duty of care. Therefore, property owners or managers must implement adequate risk mitigation strategies in their properties to maintain a reasonable standard of care.
However, premises liability laws do not punish property owners or managers for every unsafe condition that results in an accident. Instead, a duty of care analysis separates premises liability for unsafe or defective property conditions based on the knowledge of the owner or occupier about the risks. This means that the owner or occupier is only liable if they should have known the risks of their property’s unsafe condition.
There are three types of visitors recognized by premises liability law. These are:
Invitees have permission from property owners to visit a property. Invitees are usually friends, neighbors, and relatives. The property owner owes their invitee a duty of care on their property.
Licensees are on a property with the permission of the property owner or manager. However, they are on the property for personal business. Examples of licensees include newspaper vendors and property workers.
A trespasser is not a lawful visitor and doesn’t have permission to be on the property. Under Texas law, the property owner owes the least duty of care to trespassers, which is not to harm them deliberately.
The law of attractive nuisance holds property owners or managers responsible for injuries to child trespassers, which could have been avoided. This law says that the landowner can be held liable if children trespass on the property due to an attraction to an item or object and suffer injuries. For example, a swimming pool can attract children who may be oblivious to the risk of harm.
Property owners are major players in premises liability cases. However, they are not the only ones who can bear liability.
In some cases, a property owner isn’t in control of the property. For example, the property may be under the care of a property manager, a renter or lessee, or a condominium owners association. In such cases, the party directly responsible for the property during the accident is held liable.
Premises liability cases can arise from various situations and fall under several categories.
Whether in an office building or an apartment building, a property owner’s negligence can cause a fire. This negligence includes failure to use fireproof materials, fire hazards, and lack of smoke detectors and sprinklers.
Bad things happen when security guards are absent or not adequately trained, such as robbery or criminal assault. Inadequate security may also result in property damage or theft.
Swimming pool accidents may be severe and even fatal. These accidents could result from inadequate safety equipment and supervision, low water clarity, drain entrapment, or slippery decks. Other causes include poorly marked pools and inadequate lighting.
If a dog bites you, you may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner where the attack occurred. Even when the property owner doesn’t own the dog, they must keep their visitor safe from dog attacks.
An endless list of chemicals can be inhaled or ingested in a property. Therefore, property owners must maintain a safe environment for visitors devoid of toxic fumes and chemicals such as cyanide, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide.
If you are exposed to contaminated water on building premises, the owner or manager may be liable in a personal injury lawsuit. Property owners must ensure the protection of their water storage facilities (especially for drinking water) to prevent toxic water contamination.
Thousands of people get injured yearly from slips, trips, and falls. When this happens in a commercial or residential property, it may result from the owner or manager’s negligence.
Pools of water and faulty stairs are some of the most common causes of slips, trips, and falls. It could also result from faulty railings, dusty floors, ice, and snow and cause severe bodily injuries, such as spinal cord injury, sprains, cuts, bruises, etc.
Building owners can be liable for accidents from falling objects too. Falling objects can land on an individual, especially on a property that is under construction. Such falling objects include ceiling fans, pieces of ceiling materials, tools, and light fixtures.
Faulty equipment due to inadequate maintenance or other manifestations of negligence cause amusement park accidents. Most accidents in amusement parks result in severe bodily injuries like spinal cord injury, loss of limbs, and traumatic brain injuries.
The doctrine of comparative negligence affects how much you can recover. Under the Texas comparative negligence law, damages awards must reflect fault in personal injury cases.
This means that if an injured person is 20% at fault for their injury and they were to get an award of $20,000, their award will reduce by 20%. In the end, the injured person will go home with $18,000.
The Texas premises liability law is complicated and will require you to prove fault convincingly. A premises liability lawyer in Houston can help you establish liability and recover compensation. Contact us at Calhoun Meredith for a free case review.