Understanding Who is Liable in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit

slip and fall lawsuits

Property owners have certain legal responsibilities to those who enter their premises. Persons who are legally on the property of someone else are entitled to expect that reasonable measures have been taken to ensure their safety.

When someone falls and/or is otherwise injured while on the property of another, the circumstances leading to the incident must be analyzed to determine whether the property owner should have done more to protect the person injured. A property owner who fails to use reasonable care to eliminate hazards that could cause an unsuspecting person to lose footing, may face a slip and fall lawsuit.

Property owners have certain legal responsibilities to those who enter their premises. Persons who are legally on the property of someone else are entitled to expect that reasonable measures have been taken to ensure their safety.

Types of Visitors to a Premises and Duties Owed by Property Owners to Others

The duties owed by property owners to other persons who come onto their property depend on the legal status of the visitor. The three main types of visitors to a premises are:

  • Invitee – An invitee is someone welcomed by the property owner because the owner stands to benefit from the invitee’s visit. A property owner must make safe or warn against known dangers that are not open and obvious to an invitee and has the additional responsibility of discovering new dangers previously unknown.
  • Licensee – A licensee is on the property of another with permission but for the licensee’s own purposes rather than the landowner’s. A somewhat lesser duty is owed to licensees. Property owners must only make safe or warn of conditions that are actually known to them at the time of the licensee’s visit.
  • Trespasser – Trespassers are persons who are on the property of another without permission. Landowners’ only duty to trespassers is not to harm them intentionally.

People injured in slip and fall accidents are typically on the property of another as an invitee and are therefore owed the highest duty of care owed by landowners.

When the Property Owner is Liable for Your Injuries

Property owners are not automatically liable every time someone slips and falls on their property. A property owner must only act reasonably to try and safeguard authorized visitors to the property.

For invitees, property owners are not only responsible for removing or warning of dangerous conditions they know to exist, but they are also held responsible for unknown dangerous conditions that could have been discovered upon reasonable inspection.

Injuries from a known and obviously dangerous condition or one that has been warned of may still result in liability for a property owner when the hazard cannot be reasonably avoided by an invitee even with awareness of the risk.

Property owners are not usually responsible for injuries occurring on their property due to the criminal activity of a third person, but there can be exceptions depending on the owner’s knowledge regarding the risk of harm and the actions taken to protect authorized visitors. Negligent security practices can subject a property owner to liability for resulting harm.

Landowner Duties Owed to Trespassing Children

Property owners generally have the same responsibilities to children as they do to adults who enter their property. However, when children could be enticed to trespass due to a dangerous condition that is unusually attractive to them, the duty to a trespassing child becomes the same duty owed to an invitee.

The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine applies when children are found to be too young to appreciate the dangerous condition, and a property owner should have recognized the situation and taken reasonable actions to keep children safe.

How Fault Affects the Ability to Recover in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit

The liability for a slip and fall accident may be apportioned between a landowner and any others who contributed to its cause – including the person injured. When a person seeking compensation is found to have some fault for an accident, it does not necessarily bar recovery.

In Texas, partial recovery is allowed so long as the person seeking compensation is 50 percent or less at fault for causing the accident. The amount of compensation awarded will be reduced by the corresponding percentage of fault.

Why You Might Want to File a Slip and Fall Accident Lawsuit

After a slip and fall accident, you should notify the premises owner and seek medical attention for your injuries. The property owner will then likely notify their insurance carrier, and a claim would be opened for investigation.

The insurance company may claim the landowner acted reasonably and try to minimize your claim by accusing you of not paying attention or doing something else that contributed to your slip and fall.

When negotiating with an insurance company does not produce a satisfactory settlement, then it may be time to take a claim to the next level by filing a lawsuit. Personal injury lawsuits in Texas must be filed within two years of the injury.

Filing a lawsuit lets an insurance company know you are serious about your claim and can encourage sincere settlement talks in order to avoid the additional time and resource commitment involved in litigation.

Lawsuits can be expensive in both money and time, and their outcomes are never certain. Discussing your slip and fall claim with an experienced Dallas premises liability attorney can help you understand your legal rights and decide the best course of action for your particular circumstances.