Premises Liability Attorney
Slip & Fall, Trip & Fall Attorney
Premises Liability Attorney
Dallas, Fort Worth, Texas
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability refers to accidents and injuries caused by a defective and unreasonably dangerous condition on another person’s property. Some examples include:
- Slip and fall accidents;
- Trip and fall accidents;
- Accidents caused by falling objects
As a general rule, a property owner has a legal duty to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition.
A property owner may also have a duty to make routine inspections of the premises and make reasonable efforts to warn of any dangerous conditions and make necessary repairs.
The extent of a property owners duty and legal liability depends on the type of case you have.
Types of Premises Liability Cases.
1. Business Invitee
The first category of premises liability cases involves a “business invitee.” A business invitee is someone who visits the premises for a business purpose. A simple example is when a customer visits a place of business such as a supermarket, department store, or restaurant. Additionally, a business invitee may also include a landlord – tenant relationship.
As a business invitee, the customer is owed the highest duty of care by the property owner. The property owner has a legal duty to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition. That is, the property owner is required to make routine inspections of the property and to warn of, and repair, any unsafe conditions.
2. Social Invitee or Guest
The second category is a “social invitee.” A social invitee is one who is on the premises as the guest of the property owner in which business is not involved. A simple example would be party guests and friendly visitors.
Here, the property owner is liable only for dangerous conditions in which the owner had actual knowledge. There is no general duty to inspect the premises. Likewise, it is more difficult to hold a property owner liable for injuries resulting to a social guest unless you can prove that the owner had actual knowledge of the condition and failed to warn of or remedy the condition.
The third category is a “trespasser.” A trespasser is simply someone who is on the property without the owner’s consent. A property owner owes the lowest legal duty to a trespasser. The property owner is liable to a trespasser only for conditions in which the property owner purposely or intentionally causes harm without legal justification.
The Proof is in the Pudding.
Premises liability case are not very easy to win. It all depends on the facts of the case and the nature of the defect that caused the injury.
A property owner is not automatically liable just because an accident occurs on the premises. The property owner’s liability will depend upon several circumstances including:
- the nature of the defect;
- how long the defect was present;
- whether the defect was known or reasonably discoverable.
For example, let’s assume a customer is walking down a shopping isle and suddenly slips and falls due to water on the floor. If the water was accidentally spilled by another customer, it would be difficult to prove that the store owner is liable for the injuries.
However, if the customer can prove that the spill was present for a long enough period of time that the store owner should have discovered it, then the property owner would be liable. But proving that time period is nearly impossible to do. In fact, the spill could have happened only a minute or two before the accident which wouldn’t be enough time for the store employees to find the spill and clean it up.
On the contrary, if the water was on the floor because of a leaking refrigeration unit or because the area was recently mopped by a store employee, then there is a stronger case that store is liable since their employee caused the dangerous condition.
Additionally, a strong case can be made if the defect is more permanent, such as a large crack or hole in the floor. That is because defects like this do not usually occur instantly. Instead, they are usually the result of the property owner’s neglect and failure to properly maintain the property.