When you’re hurt at a business or on someone else’s property, it can be difficult to determine who may be responsible for your medical bills, lost wages and other damages. If your injury was the result of a dangerous condition on the property, you may have a premises liability claim. The best personal injury lawyers in Texas understand what it takes to prove negligence in premises liability cases, whether it’s a slip and fall accident, dog bite or another type of mishap.
Types of Premises Liability Cases
Business and property owners are legally responsible for maintaining their premises and keeping it safe for all who enter. When they fail to do this and someone is injured, they may be liable for damages. There are countless ways in which someone can become injured due to a property owner’s negligence. Some common types of premises liability claims include:
- Slip, trip and fall: Slipping on a wet floor, ice or snow or tripping on a loose rug are just a few ways that someone can become seriously hurt in a slip and fall accident.
- Dog bites and animal attacks:Unfortunately, the devastating results of dog bites and families who suffer the loss of a loved one due to an animal attack are all too common.
- Falling objects:When tools or debris at a construction site or merchandise on a shelf at a supermarket or warehouse falls on someone, it can cause catastrophic injury or death.
Injuries can also be caused by swimming pool accidents, negligent security, fires and explosions, exposure to toxic substances, amusement park accidents and escalator or elevator failure.
Elements of Proving a Premises Liability Claim
Just because you were hurt on someone’s property, it doesn’t mean that they are responsible for your injuries. Like any personal injury claim, you must prove negligence in order to recover compensation for damages in a premises liability claim. You must show that a business or property owner knew about the dangerous condition on their property but failed to remedy the situation. There are a few elements that must be proven in a premises liability claim, including:
- The property owner owed an injured victim a duty of care
- The owner or business breached that duty by failing to prevent or warn of a hazardous or defective condition
- An injured victim suffered injury, damages or losses as the result of the breach of duty of care
A good slip and fall lawyer or personal injury attorney will know how to collect relevant evidence and put all the pieces of the puzzle together to prove negligence in a premises liability claim.
Duty of Care in Premises Liability Cases
So what is duty of care? It is an individual’s or entity’s legal obligation to practice reasonable care to avoid causing injury or harm to others. For example, all motorists have a duty of care to drive safely and follow the rules of the road to keep themselves and others safe.
In premises liability claims, duty of care can get murky. The specific duty owed by a property owner depends on the classification of the visitor at the time they were injured.
An invitee is someone who has consent to enter the property and has done so for the mutual benefit of both parties, such as a customer shopping at a store. Invitees are owed the highest degree of care by property or business owners. For instance, the owner of a coffee shop has an obligation to correct or fix known dangers and a duty to reasonably conduct inspections and correct unknown hazards in a timely manner.
A licensee is typically allowed on a premises for social purposes, such as a guest visiting a friend’s house. Although property owners are obligated to provide a safe environment for licensees, they do not have to inspect for and discover unknown dangers, as they do with invitees.
A trespasser is someone who does not have permission to be on the property. An owner is not responsible for protecting trespassers from hazards, but they cannot willfully or wantonly injure them. However, in cases involving children who are trespassing, the law of attractive nuisance may apply. This law requires landowners to do everything necessary to keep children away from a potentially dangerous object or condition — putting a locked fence around a swimming pool, for example.
What to Do If You’re Injured on Someone Else’s Property
If you become injured at someone else’s property, it’s important to take photos of the scene, your injuries and anything else you may believe could be relevant to your case. If you’re unable to take pictures, ask a loved one or bystander. If your injury occurred at a business, make sure to inform the owner or management as soon as you can. Obtain a copy of any incident reports and gather contact information from any witnesses who may have seen what happened. Use the voice recorder on your phone or write down everything you remember to document the incident while it is still fresh in your mind.
After an accident, your first priority should always be your health and safety. If you’ve been injured, seek medical attention as soon as you can or call 911. Do not speak with an insurance adjuster, sign anything or accept a settlement without speaking to an attorney first. Make sure to save all medical bills, receipts and other evidence of injury-related expenses.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Premises Liability Claim?
The short answer? Yes. Premises liability cases are often complex. If you or a loved one has been injured on someone else’s property, speaking with an experienced premises liability attorney can help protect your rights. It can be easy to underestimate the costs of future medical care, lost time from work, pain and suffering and other damages. Insurance companies often attempt to undervalue or deny premises liability claims. Personal injury lawyers are familiar with the underhanded tactics insurers they employ. Your attorney will fight to help you recover maximum compensation so you can focus on healing.
Even if you believe your injuries are minor, there is no harm in setting up a consultation with an attorney. Most personal injury lawyers offer free case evaluations and work on contingency, so you really have nothing to lose.
Contact a Dallas Premises Liability Lawyer
For more than 15 years, our attorneys at Leinart Law Firm have helped personal injury victims throughout north Texas recover the compensation they deserve. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident on someone else’s property, our premises liability attorneys can evaluate your case and advise you of your options. To schedule a complimentary consultation, please call us in Dallas at 469-232-3328 or in Fort Worth at 817-426-3328. You can also complete the contact form on our website, use our convenient chat feature or email us.