“Premises liability” often shows up in the news as slip and fall accidents. However, premises liability cases can actually involve any injuries you experience on someone else’s property, for example:
- a restaurant or grocery store where you slipped and fell due to a wet floor;
- being attacked at your apartment building or hotel due to insufficient security and a history of attacks in that location;
- being injured by a dog bite at your friend’s home after you were invited over for dinner;
- a child who has an accident in a private or public swimming pool;
- injuries at an amusement park due to a ride malfunctioning; and
- Other accidents on commercial or residential property.
Although landowners have a duty to keep their property safe and/or warn visitors of any known dangers, Texas law still places the burden of proof on victims in premises liability cases, necessitating the assistance of an attorney experienced in this specific area. Similar to other personal injury (negligence) cases, you and your attorney must prove that the landowner owed you a duty, that he or she breached that duty, and that it caused your injury, and therefore you should be awarded damages (compensation). In addition, you must prove that you were not aware of the danger and knowingly ignored it, taking on the risk of injury yourself.Visitors vs. Trespassers
In general, landowners are not liable to injuries to trespassers (except that they cannot injure a trespasser willfully, wantonly, or through gross negligence), but rather only to people who are legally there, such as guests and visitors (invitees and licensees). Specifically:
- A licensee has the landowner’s permission to enter the property (for example, a salesman or guest);
- An invitee also has permission to enter the property, but is typically invited over for business purposes or for some other benefit of the property owner.
An invitee is typically owed a higher duty, in general, by a landowner, than a licensee. Still, a landowner is only liable if the injured person can prove that the condition posed an unreasonable risk of harm, the landowner knew of or should have known of the danger, and he or she failed to use ordinary care to protect the injured party from harm. In addition, if the location in question is a residential building, any additional duties as described by a rental contract must also be examined by an attorney where they has been an injury.Attractive Nuisance
One exception to the standard of owing no duty to trespassers is the attractive nuisance doctrine. Even if a child has trespassed, a landowner may be liable for any injuries to a child caused by a highly dangerous, artificial condition on the land if:
- The landowner knew or reasonably should have known that children were likely to trespass;
- The landowner knew that the artificial condition existed and should have realized that it posed an unreasonable risk of death or serious harm to children;
- The injured child did not discover the condition or realize the risk involved;
- The utility and burden of keeping the condition as is were slight compared to the risk to children; and
- The landowner failed to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the danger (sec 75.007).
Lawsuits against a local government entity for injuries sustained on sidewalks (often slipping on snow or ice) can be complex, necessitating the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer. In some instances, government entities enjoy immunity (protection) from lawsuits. However, there are instances where this immunity does not apply, such as for:
- “Special” defects: which present unexpected, unusual dangers, requiring proof that the government entity knew or should have known about the defect; and
- “Premise” defects: long-standing, permanent defects, requiring proof that the government entity had actual knowledge of the defect.
In general, if you have been injured while legally on someone else’s property, you can seek compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, it is crucial to retain the assistance of an attorney experienced in premises liability, for example, to act immediately and ensure that any relevant evidence that will be helpful to your case is preserved.
The Law Offices of Ronald A. Ramos have been representing the rights of injured victims for over 33 years, gaining valuable experience and trust in working on premises liability, auto accident, work injury, medical malpractice, and other personal injury cases. We are dedicated to serving your best interests.Law Offices of Ronald A. Ramos, P.C.