Texas Premises Liability Lawyer
Houston Premises Liability Attorney
Premises liability is the area of law dealing with liability for injuries that result due to some condition or use of property. This can range from the grocery store slip and fall to unprotected swimming pools to dangerous conditions in amusement parks. The basics of this are that the person is injured on someone else’s property and that person was under some duty to prevent or reduce the risk of the injury from occurring. Premises liability law is very complex. It is very easy for an unwary victim to get re-victimized by an adjuster who takes advantage of their lack of knowledge. For this reason it is very important that you speak to a premises liability lawyer as soon as possible and not give any recorded statements. At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., we have handled hundreds of premises liability cases. Call us for a free consultation.
Overview of Premises Liability Law
Premises Liability Law is the area of law that covers a property owner’s responsibility for injuries that occur on the property. Just because you are injured on another person’s property does not mean they are automatically responsible for your injury. As a general rule, to win a premises liability case, you must prove four things: 1) A duty owed, 2) breach of the duty; 3) proximate cause, and; 4) damages.
A property owner is not an insurer of the property. Whether the premises in question is a residential property, commercial property or farm/recreational property all play into what laws apply and what duties are imposed upon the landowner. Also, premises liability law imposes different duties upon land owners depending upon the status of the injured person while on the property. The duty owed to an “invitee” (a person who was invited to be there by express or implied invitation) is generally a higher duty than that owed to a “licensee” (a person who is on the property for his own personal business only or a “trespasser” (a person without permission to be on the land). In addition to the above, when the landowner is a landlord of the injured person, there are additional contractual duties that can arise under the rental contract such as the implied warranty of habitability. All of the above status and duty issues must be fully explored in every case.
Breach of Duty
Once a duty has been established, then you must show the property owner breach his duty. In a typical premises case, this means you must show that you must prove the property owner was aware of a dangerous condition or should have been aware of a dangerous condition and that he failed to either remedy the danger or adequately warn you against it.
An important note about this issue is that the evidence easily disappears. Often videos get “recycled” or the cause of the injury gets repaired and discarded. Thus,it is very important that you retain a good personal injury lawyer to send a spoliation letter demanding that the evidence be preserved and turned over at an appropriate time. Delaying in calling an attorney can result in the permanent loss of critical evidence in these cases. Thus, if you have been injured and think you may have a premises liability case such as a slip and fall or trip and fall, call us immediately for a free consultation.
“Proximate cause” requires that you prove that the negligence which created the danger posed to you caused the injuries you have. In other words, you must show that you did not have knowledge of the danger and ignore the warning or risk yourself. You must also show that you were acting reasonably and not the sole proximate cause of your own injuries.
Damages from a slip-and-fall, trip-and-fall or other premises liability case can vary from very slight to very serious. Some of the damages we have seen from premises liability cases are as follows:
You Need a Premises Liability Lawyer On Your Side
The above issues demonstrate why you need an experienced premises liability lawyer advising you if you have been injured as a result of the actions of a negligent property owner. Our firm handles a large number of premises liability cases involving the negligence of a homeowner or commercial property owner, such as:
- Slip and falls
- Trip and falls
- Apartment complex injury
- Swimming pool accidents
- Dog bites/animal attacks
- Negligent security
- Construction site accidents
- Brown Recluse spider bite
- Railing and balcony accidents
- Amusement park and carnival accidents
- Sports injury
Call Simmons and Fletcher, P.C.’s premises liability attorneys for a free consultation about your premises liability case today.
Steps to Take After a Commercial Premises Liability Accident
If you are on a commercial property such as a grocery store, gym, office or other place of business, they will likely have a process for documenting incidents. Contact a manager and file a report as soon as the accident occurs. The sooner a store gets notice of the incident, the more likely they are to preserve any video evidence.
If you are on the job when the injury occurs, you need to file a worker’s compensation Initial Report of Injury immediately. Failure to file one of these within 24-48 hours could result in your loss of a right to pursue compensation.
When it comes to commercial premises liability claims, the plaintiff must prove that there was a dangerous condition that the owner was aware of, or that there was a dangerous condition present for so long the owner should have seen it. This is a tough burden to prove. You need to keep you eyes and ears open for any evidence that the owner's were aware of the condition. For example:
- Ask the manager if they knew it was there
- Look to see if there any signs, mops, buckets or anything around to indicate they were preparing to clean it
- Ask if there were any witnesses to the source of the dangerous condition (not just the fall)
- Look to see what the source of the condition was (leaky roof, dripping ice machine, etc)
What you observe may determine whether you have a case or not, so always be alert.
If you are physically able, take photographs of the condition that caused your fall. Even if a video exists and can be obtained, water on a white floor can often be very hard to see on a video. If you are able to take a photo that can show the condition and/or the source of the condition, this can be very beneficial to your case.
Falls on hard surfaces can result in broken bones, torn ligaments, ruptured tendons and other serious injuries. The full extent of an injury may not be readily apparent at the time; which is why getting all injuries checked out by a trained emergency physician is the best thing to do. Insurance adjusters are looking for an excuse to deny your claim. Here are some of the medical care mistakes they commonly deduct from your offer for:
- Not going to a hospital from the scene
- Delays in seeking the initial medical care
- Delays in following up after the initial medical care
- Not following doctor’s orders
- Missing scheduled appointments
- Gaps in your medical care
- Not filling prescriptions
- Seeking “alternative,” “holistic,” or “experimental” types of medical care
If you do not want to get treated unfairly, your best bet is to seek care promptly and follow the doctor’s orders.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Getting fair compensation means giving the jury a mental image of everything you went through. Photos in the emergency room can go along way toward showing what you endured. In addition to that, documenting your injury shortly after the injury and throughout the healing process can help jurors understand what you went through. Try to take pictures to document any changes in the injury, treatment and/or healing process to help tell your story.
How a Premise Liability Lawyer Can Help
In addition to the legal issues that your premises liability lawyer must be familiar with, you need an attorney who knows how to secure the evidence in your case. Some of the things Simmons and Fletcher, P.C.’s premises liability lawyers do in these matters are:
- Send spoliation letters to prevent the destruction of valuable video evidence in the landlord’s possession
- Subpoena/obtain incident reports, investigative material, government reports and other necessary documents
- Photograph the scene to preserve the evidence before remedial measures (repairs) can be performed to hide the evidence
- Interview eye-witnesses
- Depose the landowner and/or his representatives and employees
- Take negligent landowners to trial.
If you have been injured as the result of a property owner’s negligence, contact us today for committed representation in your premises liability case. We do not take any payment of attorney’s fees unless we win a settlement or verdict for you.
We are located next to the Memorial City Mall in Houston, Texas. We handle serious injury cases across the State of Texas and are more than happy to work with you via, email, Skype, phone to make handling the case a convenience for you. We also have investigators and lawyers who travel to investigate and explore cases where they happen. Contact us today for committed support in your premises liability case.
Frequently Asked Questions:
For more information on premises liability law, please visit our blog under premises liability, or read about one of these frequently asked-about premises liability topics:
- Is a business liable for a trip and fall in the parking lot?
- Is the city liable for defects in city-owned sidewalks?
- The difficulty of the grocery store slip and fall case.
- The difficulty of the premises liability case in Texas hospitals and medical facilities.
- Walmart slip and fall accidents.
- What is the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine?