Houston Slip and Fall Lawyer

Slip and Fall Accidents in Texas

wet floor caution

Standard wet floor caution sign

Slip and fall accidents or are often the subject of jokes in cartons and the media. But when you are seriously
injured because someone left a slip hazard on the floor, it is no laughing matter. The law office of Simmons and Fletcher P.C. in Houston, TX, is your choice for a slip and fall attorney. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, it is in your best interests to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer right away.

Liability Dependent Upon Classification Of the Injured Person

Under Texas law, the duty owed to a person who enters another person’s property is determined by the injured party’s status.  One who owns or is in control of property may owe a different duty depending upon the injured person’s status as an invitee, licensee or trespasser.  The three classifications are:

  • Invitee – An “invitee” is generally defined as someone who enters the property of another for the property possessors benefit.  A customer in a store is considered an “invitee.”  Social guests at someone’s home or apartment are also considered invitees.
  • Licensee – A “licensee” is a person who enters the property of another for the mutual benefit of the land owner/possessor and the individual visiting.
  • Trespasser – A “trespasser” is a person who enters the property of another without any invitation or right.   A person who enters a property as an invitee can become a trespasser if he leaves the area to which he was invited to enter–such as a store customer sneaking into an “employee only” area.

Each of the above classifications determines the duty owed to the injured person.  The duties owed are as follows:

  • Duty to an Invitee – A person in control of the premises owes a duty to exercise reasonable care to provide a safe premises. This means that the land owner must disclose all unreasonably dangerous conditions of which he is aware and those that he should have knowledge of upon reasonable inspection of the property.  This is a “knew or should have known” standard known as “constructive knowledge.”.  If the land owner has actual or constructive knowledge of an unreasonably dangerous condition, he has a duty to either remedy the danger or warn the invitee of the hazard.  Failure to do one or the other results in liability for injury caused by the unreasonably dangerous condition.
  • Duty to a Licensee – A person in control of the premises owes a licensee a duty to disclose only known dangerous conditions.  There is no duty to inspect the property to make it reasonably safe for a licensee.
  • Duty to a Trespasser – A person in control of the premises owes a trespasser only a minimal duty to not intentionally or willfully do him or her harm.  Proving liability for an adult trespasser is extremely difficult in many cases. However, there are some exceptions.  Such as the attractive nuisance doctrine and the doctrine of implied permission by acquiescence. These doctrines are discussed more below.

Slip and Falls in Grocery Stores and Commercial Properties

Any place where the general public is invited to come and shop or conduct business has a duty to conduct reasonable inspections to keep the premises safe for their patrons. Spills and leaks in machines often cause hard to notice slip hazards in public places. Faulty railing, rotten balconies and steps, poor lighting, holes and elevation changes in walkways all may lead to a serious injury from an unanticipated fall.

commercial grade floor mat by dishwasher

Floor mats reduce slip risks around known wet areas.

These businesses expect these falls to happen and they often have ‘risk management teams’ who know how to take action to hide the evidence of their liability. If you wait to speak with an attorney who will take quick action in your case, it is possible that the problem will be repaired and the evidence will disappear. Contact an attorney who will investigate the scene right away, before the negligent party can change or repair the faulty condition on the premises.

For more information,please see the following:

Slip and Falls On Private Properties and Residences

Homeowners and landowners are also responsible for eliminating and/or disclosing known hazards and hazards of which they should know upon reasonable inspection to their social guests. They must tell their guests of potential risks they encounter when they are invited in. Failure to do so can result in civil liability for personal injury damages.

In addition, licensees and even certain trespassers have a right to be warned of known dangers if their presence can be anticipated. A dangerous condition on property that is likely to draw children or others onto the property because of its allure or appeal is an example of this known as an “attractive nuisance.” Properties with swimming ponds, trails, or tracks that light be reasonably anticipated to draw people onto the property may fall under the attractive nuisance doctrine if they conceal a hidden danger.  Additionally, if a landowner is aware of people regularly trespassing and he does nothing to stop them (such as a farm owner allowing school kids to cut across a field), the trespassers may become licensees or even invitees under the eyes of the law–allowing a lesser burden of proof for liability.

Knowledge-Based Defenses

  •  Actual Knowledge Defense – Awareness or knowledge of a dangerous condition by the injured plaintiff is a legal defense to liability that can be raised by the person in control of the premises.  This makes perfect sense if you think about it. A landowner can discharge their obligations by warning the visitor of the unreasonably dangerous condition. The point of a warning is to give a person knowledge. If he already has knowledge, there is no need to warn him.  As a result, actual knowledge by the injured party is an absolute bar to liability.
  • Open and Obvious Defense – If a hazard is “open and obvious”  for everyone to see the risk, then the person in control of the property is no longer required to remedy it or warn the person of the danger. An example of this might be where a person tries to walk across a frozen pond.  However, this defense is not effective where a person has no choice but to encounter the hazard due to circumstances under the property owner’s control.  An example of this is an unlit stairway that is the only way for an apartment resident to get out of his apartment.

Information On Trip and Fall Accidents

While the law is generally the same as it pertains to the duties owned to slip and fall accidents vs trip and fall accidents, trip and falls can pose some unique facts and issues.  Please visit trip and fall accidents for more information.

The above issues demonstrate why you need an experienced slip and fall lawyer advising you if you have been injured as a result of negligence. The issues can be extremely complex and the duty required will vary from case-to-case depending upon the facts. Our firm handles a large number of premises liability cases in addition to slip and falls such as:

All of the above cases involve the premise liability issues revolving around the injured persons status as an invitee, licensee or trespasser. For more information about slip and fall accidents, please visit the premise liability section of our blog.

At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. in Houston, Texas, we act quickly and advocate relentlessly on behalf of serious injury victims and their families for the maximum recovery they deserve. Each case is treated according to the unique needs of each client. Contact us today to speak with an experienced, trusted slip and fall attorney regarding your injury claim.