Property owners are responsible for safely maintaining their premises to prevent harm to anyone coming onto the property. Premises liability is the area of law that governs this responsibility, and it covers accidents in many different places, such as shopping centers, parking lots, and amusement parks. When you or a loved one suffers injury on someone else’s property in Dallas, you need to consult with a Dallas premises liability attorney about your legal rights.
Julie Wolf of Wolf Law PLLC has years of experience handling these claims that will help you seek out and obtain maximum compensation for damages caused by someone else’s negligence. Julie and her legal team will work with insurance companies and property owners to ensure you obtain the maximum amount possible to care for your loved ones as you heal from your injuries.
Texas Premises Liability Law
Premises liability is an ordinary negligence action brought by someone who claims to have been injured by a condition on another’s property. Some common scenarios that lead to premises liability cases include water on the floor inside a grocery store, a newly painted ramp as you enter a bank, an uneven sidewalk outside of a business, or a large pothole in a parking lot.
Premises liability law in Texas is complicated, hinging on the visitor’s legal status at the time they were injured and the conditions under which they suffered an accident. Plaintiffs must prove negligence on the part of the property owner and/or their employees. A knowledgeable premises liability lawyer in Dallas is indispensable in helping you successfully navigate these and other legal complexities.
The injured party in a premises liability case is generally classified in one of two categories:
- Invitee: This group includes those on another’s property for business purposes, such as customers in a store. These visitors are on the premises for the parties’ mutual benefit (e.g., shopping).
- Licensee: These are visitors with a social purpose, such as attending a play or guests entering your home. A licensee enters another’s property for their own convenience or to visit to someone at the property; they are not there to benefit the owner of the property.
Under Texas law, property owners owe a duty of care to anyone who comes on their property. For invitees, owners have a duty to warn or make safe an unreasonably dangerous condition they either knew about or should have known about. For licensees, the owner has to have actual knowledge of or reasonably should have known of the dangerous condition.
First Steps to Take After Your Premises Liability Accident
In the aftermath of being hurt, we are often at a loss for what to do next. If you are injured on another’s property, you should take the following first steps to ensure proper documentation of your premises liability accident and preservation of any related evidence:
- Take pictures and/or video of the condition or conditions on the property that caused your accident and injuries.
- Report the incident to a property manager, store employee, or business owner immediately after it occurs.
- Ensure the property owner or business owner creates an incident report; and, request a copy of it or take a picture of it with your phone.
- Take pictures and/or video of your injuries at the location of the accident and while being treated.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- Contact a premises liability lawyer.
Premises Liability Claims
Once you and your premises liability lawyer have determined your legal status at the time of the accident, you must examine the evidence to know what kind of premises negligence case to pursue. There are three kinds of premises liability claims you could make:
Standard Premises Negligence
This claim seeks to establish that the victim’s injuries were caused by a dangerous condition involving the property. This could be trip or slip hazards that were not corrected or automatic doors closing prematurely. To prove liability, you must show that:
- There was a hazardous condition on the premises.
- This condition caused your injury.
- The property owner should have been aware of the condition.
- The owner failed to rectify the condition prior to your injury.
Some of the most common scenarios that create a premises liability claim include tripping over a sidewalk with a raised lip, tripping over a divider in the floor, tripping over an uneven curb, slipping in a puddle of water, and slipping on a slippery ramp.
Negligent activity involves an injury caused by the actions of a defendant’s employee. The person did not behave with care or how a prudent person would behave in the circumstances, and the victim was injured as a result. For example, if an employee is loading boxes onto a high shelf at a warehouse store and drops a box onto a customer, that would be negligent activity. They should have cleared the area and warned customers about potential risks.
A negligent undertaking occurs when a property owner assumes a duty of care they normally would not have. This is most common in a landlord and tenant situation. Suppose the tenant notifies the landlord of a water leak in their kitchen and the landlord does not have it repaired. In that case, the tenant may file a premises liability case for negligent undertaking if they slip and fall due to the pooled water on the floor. Negligent undertaking relies on the landlord assuming a duty to the tenant and failing to fulfill that duty when the tenant relies on the landlord’s assumption of the duty.
Premises Liability Versus Negligent Activity Cases
In a premises liability case, the plaintiff becomes injured because of unresolved hazards on a property, such as falling as the result of stepping in a large pothole in a poorly lit parking lot. In these cases, the plaintiff has to prove additional elements such as whether the premises owner controlled the area where the condition existed, and if they had knowledge and notice of it. These cases revolve around an existing condition on another’s property
In a negligent activity case, someone is actively doing something to harm a visitor to the premises as part of an ongoing activity. An example could be moving shopping carts or organizing shopping carts in a way that is dangerous to shoppers at a store or in a parking lot.
Under the legal theory of premises liability, the injured party is hurt on someone else’s property due to a condition on the property versus being injured by the negligent activity of an individual on the property (usually an employee). If the danger that caused the injury is a condition, that’s a premises liability case. If someone is engaging in an ongoing and potential hazardous activity, then it’s a negligent activity case (these are far less common).
Fault and Damages in a Premises Liability Claim
Proving the elements of a premises liability case requires good evidence that shows how the defendant is at fault for your injuries and property damage. Your attorney and their team can help you gather much of what you will need, with access to resources you would not have on your own. Valuable documentation for your personal injury case includes items such as:
- Photographs of the hazard, your injuries, and the scene of the accident
- Footage from security cameras or witnesses’ cellphones
- Medical records of treatment you received
- Accident reports filed by the business
- Witness statements
- Cleaning and maintenance records for the property
- OSHA records for the business
- Bills for medical treatment and transportation
- Receipts for property damage such as replacing a cellphone or computer
Regardless of where your accident happens and the circumstances, you will be able to seek compensation for the damages you suffered. A premises liability lawyer can advise you about pursuing the two main types of damages available in a personal injury case: economic and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages: tangible expenses such as medical bills, loss of income, property damage, medications, or emergency transport costs.
- Non-economic damages: subjective injuries like pain and suffering, mental anguish, scarring, disfigurement, depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
Specific Types of Premises Liability Cases
We see several common types of premises liability cases involving certain accidents, such as slip-and-fall, negligent security, and electrical accidents.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents often occur from spilled liquids inside a store. For those who are unsteady, such as children and elderly shoppers, these dangers can be especially harmful.
Trip and Fall Accidents
Trip and fall accidents happen because of hazards such as potholes, uneven concrete, a sidewalk with a raised lip, a divider in the floor, an uneven curb, and more.
Negligent security cases involve inadequate attention to items such as broken fences, non-functioning alarms, and poor lighting that lead to injuries because of a lack of reasonable security measures.
Electrical accidents can involve employee or customer injuries on a property and may lead to death. Failure to address faulty wiring inside a store or downed power lines in a parking lot set a property owner up to face a premises liability claim.
Contact Julie Wolf, Texas Premises Liability Attorney
Julie Wolf is an experienced Dallas premises liability attorney who is ready to help you pursue justice and compensation against negligent property owners who have harmed you. When you need help filing a claim to secure financial security for your family against astronomical medical bills, you need a qualified, compassionate professional ready to fight for you.
Call the offices of Wolf Law PLLC at (972) 338-4477 today to schedule a free consultation.