Premises Liability Attorneys in Houston, Texas
The term "premises liability" refers to a property owner's implied responsibility to make their property safe for visitors, as well as themselves. When a property owner fails to do that — for instance, a business fails to shovel snow from its walkway or a construction crew fails to put appropriate signage in place to warn pedestrians of danger — they can be held liable for any injuries caused as a result.
There are, of course, many factors that affect the outcome of a personal injury case. For instance, if a person is trespassing on someone else’s property and gets hurt, that person is unlikely to receive any compensation for their injuries. If, however, the property owner had reason to believe trespassers would be common on their property, they could be held responsible for not taking necessary precautions to warn those persons of danger.
For example, let’s say a skate park is being renovated over the summer. The park owners can expect that a few curious teenagers might sneak onto the property to see what changes are being made — or even to fulfill a dare. In anticipation of such behavior, the management involved in this scenario should give ample warning about any and all dangerous areas on the property.
There are four elements that must be met in order for an injured person to have a claim against a landowner. First, the landowner must have actual or constructive knowledge of the injury causing condition on the premises (in some instances only actual knowledge is sufficient). Second, the condition that caused the injury posed an unreasonable risk of harm. Third, the landowner did not exercise reasonable care to reduce or eliminate the risk. Fourth, the landowner's failure proximately caused the injured person's injuries. If any one of the four elements are not met, the injured person does not have a claim against the landowner under premise liability.
Common Premise Claims
Trip and fall and slip and fall claims are the most common claims that people think of when discussing premise liability. However, these are not the only type of premise liability claims. Depending on the facts, injury from heavy objects falling, cuts from sharp objects, injuries from dangerous machines and even dog bites may fall under premise liability law. The common thread in all of these fact patterns is that there is a dangerous condition on the property that the owner knew about or should have known about.
Another important factor that affects many personal injury cases is the concept of shared fault or comparative fault. These terms refer to both parties — the visitor and the property owner — being partially responsible for the injuries sustained on the property. As a general rule, people are expected to care enough about their own well-being to try and avoid getting hurt. That’s why, if a visitor seems to have behaved in a foolhardy way that resulted in an injury, their claim to compensation is likely to be reduced.
In Texas, the comparative fault rule is applied by percentage. For instance, let’s say an injury has occurred and the damages have amounted to $10,000. If, after examining the details of the case, the judge determines that the property owner is 75% responsible for the visitor’s injury and the visitor is 25% responsible for getting themselves hurt, the injured person can only receive up to 75% of the compensation — in this case, $7,500. If on the other hand, the injured person is deemed to be 51% or more responsible for their injury, they cannot claim any compensation.
The Importance of Consulting with an Attorney
Comparative fault and trespassing are just two of many unique factors that can affect the outcome of a premises liability case. A seasoned personal injury lawyer can offer much more in the way of expertise, which could mean the difference between collecting your compensation and walking away empty-handed. If you or a loved one has been injured on someone else’s property, your next step should be consulting with an attorney to determine what your case may be worth.
WHY CHOOSE O’HARA LAW FIRM?
Since we began practicing law, we have taken on a wide variety of personal injury cases and faced all manner of opposition. There is no case too big for the O'Hara Law Firm. Our team has successfully resolved trip and fall claims on behalf of clients against defendants such as a car wash, grocery store, landlord, and other retail stores. If you or a loved one has been hurt due to someone else’s negligent facility care or upkeep, give our team a call. We would be happy to walk you through your next steps.