Getting hurt in an accident can turn your life upside down, especially when you are injured somewhere you expect to be safe. When a property owner does not keep their premises properly maintained and free of dangers, you may suffer harm that is not your fault. Holding the owner accountable requires skilled legal guidance.
When you or a loved one have been hurt on someone else’s property, consult with Dallas premises liability attorney Julie Wolf about your legal rights. She is highly experienced in handling premises liability claims and can help you obtain the maximum compensation for your damages. Julie and her team can demonstrate how the owner’s negligence led to your injuries. Contact us today for a free initial consultation to learn more about your options.
Specific Types of Premises Liability Cases
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.
We see several common types of premises liability cases involving certain accidents, such as slip-and-fall, negligent security, and electrical accidents. Each of these can lead to serious injuries or a fatality, leading to a wrongful death claim. Depending on the evidence, the injured person may have grounds to sue for gross negligence if the owner took no action to repair the hazard.
Slip-and-fall accidents are one of the most common types of premises liability claims. These accidents can occur inside or outside of stores or other places of business. They often involve spilled or leaked liquids, icy or wet leaves on a sidewalk, or loose flooring.
For those who are unsteady, such as children and elderly shoppers, these dangers can be especially harmful. Falls for these individuals can result in broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and even death.
Trip-and-fall accidents happen because of hazards such as potholes, uneven concrete, a sidewalk with a raised lip, a divider in the floor, or an uneven curb. These frequently occur in parking lots and on the sidewalks in front of a store, but the owner is still responsible for maintaining those areas.
If you are injured in an area that should be maintained by a government agency, such as sidewalks and public parks, you may still have a valid injury claim against the division responsible for keeping it safe.
Negligent security cases involve inadequate attention to items such as broken fences, non-functioning alarms, and poor lighting. Situations like these can put patrons at risk of becoming the victim of a crime.
For example, suppose the owner of a public parking garage fails to repair security measures, and someone is assaulted, robbed, or carjacked on their property. In addition to any criminal charges filed against the assailant, the injured person can sue the owner to compensate them for their injuries and property loss.
Electrical accidents may result from bad wiring, inadequate warning signs, or downed power lines in a parking area. These can lead to employee or customer injuries on a property and may cause severe burns or death. Failure to address these hazards can set a property owner up to face a premises liability claim.
Swimming Pool Accidents
The second leading cause of death for all children is drowning. It is the leading cause of death for children under four years of age. Even if drownings are non-fatal, they can still cause serious damage to internal organs and/or neurological function. Causes of swimming pool accidents include dangerous conditions such as slippery decks, poor lighting, diving injuries, and overcrowding.
Many victims suffer suction valve accidents when their hair or part of their clothing is pulled into a drain at the bottom of the pool. These drain injuries can cause the victim to be severely hurt or drown if they cannot get free. Swimmers may also be hurt when there is a lack of supervision or warning signs about the depth of the water.
Grocery Store Accidents
Because they are visited so frequently and contain many substances that can be spilled or dropped, grocery store accidents are one of the most common premises liability claims. Water that leaked from an unrepaired refrigerator case, laundry detergent that spilled when a container was dropped, or heavy boxes that fall onto a customer can all be the basis of a claim.
Experiencing a fall in a supermarket can leave you with broken bones, bruises, internal damage, or head trauma. If you are a victim of a grocery store accident, you should speak with a qualified Dallas premises liability lawyer to learn more about what happens if you fall in a grocery store and how to proceed with a claim.
Parking Lot Accidents
Parking lot accidents are also extremely common at grocery stores and other retail establishments. The number of pedestrians, vehicles, shopping carts, and other components can multiply the odds of experiencing a damaging mishap. Potholes, debris, piled-up snow, or other obstacles can cause slip-and-fall parking lot and trip-and-fall parking lot injuries.
Whether at home or when traveling, you may be the victim of a parking lot accident while trying to stock up on groceries or home goods. While most store operators hire contractors to maintain their parking lots, you could have a valid claim against a store manager, a contractor, and/or the company itself. A premises liability attorney like Julie Wolf can discuss the circumstances of your case to be sure.
Amusement Park Accidents
Over 335 million people visit amusement parks annually in the United States. These parks can be fun but definitely offer many opportunities to get hurt while on the premises. Accidents at theme parks involve hanging, being crushed, falling, drowning, and suffocation. Many rides can malfunction unexpectedly, leaving you at risk of injury before anyone can stop the machine and rescue you.
Regardless of regulations and safety measures, accidental death is common. Waterpark accidents are especially likely to end in fatalities. Families of victims could pursue a claim against the attraction’s owners, operators, and/or a manufacturer to seek compensation for their losses.
Escalator, Elevator, and Staircase Accidents
Individuals are often injured on escalators, elevators, and staircases when these areas are not maintained properly. Escalator accidents can happen when they have not been repaired properly and stop unexpectedly. Shoes or clothing can be drawn into the mechanics of the escalator, injuring riders. Emergency action to stop the device may be the only way for someone to survive an escalator accident.
Elevators can stop or drop without warning, causing harm to passengers. The doors can also close on a person, leaving them trapped when the elevator begins to move. If the problem cannot be repaired and the victims are reached in time to prevent a catastrophe, a severely hurt passenger may have a valid elevator accident lawsuit.
Staircase accidents can result from a lack of handrails, broken or uneven steps, lack of nonskid materials, and poor lighting. Slipping and falling up or down a staircase can lead to broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and internal bleeding, among other serious injuries. Victims may end up temporarily or permanently disabled.
Texas Premises Liability Law
A premises liability lawsuit is a legal action brought by someone who claims to have been injured by a condition on another’s property. 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 or their employees. A knowledgeable premises liability lawyer in Dallas is indispensable in helping you successfully navigate these and other legal complexities.
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.
The injured party in a premises liability case is generally classified into 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 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.
There are some exceptions for trespassers. Usually, a property owner does not owe a duty of care to someone who is on their property illegally; however, the owner cannot purposely cause them harm. If the trespasser is a child, the duty of care is owed as if the child were there with permission.
First Steps to Take After A Premises Liability Accident
In the aftermath of being hurt, we are often at a loss for what to do next. You could be disoriented and unable to move, needing immediate medical attention. When you are injured on another person’s property, we recommend you take the following steps to ensure proper documentation of your premises liability accident and preservation of any related evidence:
- Take pictures and 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. Request a copy of it or take a picture of it with your phone.
- Take pictures and video of your injuries at the location of the accident and while being treated.
- Get the names and contact details of any witnesses.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you are not treated at the scene, follow up with your doctor right away.
- Contact a premises liability lawyer.
Premises Liability Claims
Julie Wolf 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. 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 Claim
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 directly caused or contributed to 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 slick ramp.
Negligent Activity Claim
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 commonly seen 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. An example might be a victim falling as the result of stepping into a large pothole in a poorly lit parking lot. In these cases, the plaintiff has to prove additional elements to establish liability.
The plaintiff and their personal injury attorney must show evidence supporting factors 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. These cases are far less common.
Under the legal theory of premises liability, an injured party is hurt on someone else’s property due to a condition on the property as opposed to being injured by the negligent acts of an individual on the property (usually an employee). If the danger that caused the injury is a condition, that is a premises liability case. If someone is engaging in an ongoing and potentially hazardous activity, then it is a negligent activity case.
Working With Insurance Companies on a Premises Liability Claim
In many premises liability cases, you will be able to file a claim against the property owner’s insurance. This is not as simple as it may seem because insurance representatives are not interested in paying out claims. They prefer to keep their profits in the business and will fight very hard to avoid providing a satisfactory settlement.
Texas uses a modified comparative fault rule that means you could be limited in what you can claim if you are partially at fault for the accident. Insurance companies will do their best to push at least 51 percent of the fault onto your shoulders since you cannot seek damages at that percentage. This is where having a skilled and aggressive premises liability attorney on your side will be critical.
Julie Wolf will not let insurance companies take advantage of you. Wolf Law, PLLC will fight back and provide evidence of the property owner’s liability. Our legal team will advise you when they are making a lowball offer and keep pushing until we reach a settlement that meets your needs.
Proving Fault and Seeking 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. An experienced slip and fall lawyer can help you gather much of what you will need, and will have 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 cell phone or computer
Regardless of where your accident happened and the circumstances, you should talk to a lawyer and find out if you will be able to seek compensation for the damages you suffered. A premises liability attorney will explain the difference between a slip-and-fall vs. a trip-and-fall accident. They can also advise you about pursuing the two main types of damages available in a personal injury case: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic losses are tangible expenses with a fixed monetary value. Non-economic losses are more subjective and address how your life has been affected by your accident. Your premises liability attorney can help you understand how to calculate these.
Some examples of these types of losses include:
- Medical bills
- Loss of income and benefits
- Property damage
- Prescription medications
- Emergency transport fees
- Surgery costs
- Renovations to your home to accommodate a disability
- Travel expenses for treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Development of mood problems such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD
- Loss of consortium with your partner or spouse
- Isolation and loss of society
- Loss of enjoyment of activities and hobbies
- Decreased quality of life
We will listen carefully to your story so we can fully understand the impact of your injuries on your life. You would not have suffered these conditions if the accident had not happened, and those at fault must pay compensation accordingly. We can help you consider expenses you might otherwise overlook, such as:
- The time you have taken from work and how it could affect your chance for promotions and bonuses
- Your medical diagnosis and how long your future treatment will last
- How your injuries will affect your physical and mental health in the future
- If you can no longer care for yourself
- Your mobility and functionality
Our goal is to maximize the compensation you receive to prevent a financial burden from expenses related to your injuries. Money does not bring back your physical ability or health, but it can allow you and your family to adjust to your new life more comfortably.
How Wolf Law, PLLC Strengthens a Premises Liability Case
When you work with a Dallas premises liability attorney from Wolf Law, PLLC, you can trust in our knowledge of the law and how to apply it to your advantage. We will perform a number of essential services to develop a solid case and support your claim for damages.
We maintain a broad network of medical specialists, accident investigation reconstructionists, and other experts who can assist us with your claim. Our goal is to support your physical, emotional, and financial recovery fully. Our dedicated team will:
Our attorneys and staff will gather all available evidence to determine who is at fault. We analyze and present materials that build a strong case, showing the severity of your losses, and what your compensation demands should be. We begin making your case ready for trial from Day One. When we stay ready, we do not lose time trying to get ready.
As mentioned, insurance companies will try to take advantage of your inexperience. They may delay responding to you, they will insist on recorded statements when you are still disoriented, and they will make insultingly low offers. They want you to take a quick offer and close the case, leaving you with no way to get further help if your condition worsens. Our attorneys will push back on their underhanded tactics until we get the financial recovery you deserve.
Staying ready for court means we can move quickly when an insurance carrier does not meet our demands. We often secure better settlements out of court when they see we mean business and will fight all the way. If we proceed to trial, Julie Wolf is highly skilled in convincing the judge and jury of the owner’s negligence and securing the award and justice you are owed.
Contact Julie Wolf, Dallas 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.
We do not back down, and we stand ready to take on your case. Contact the offices of Wolf Law, PLLC by using our online form to schedule a free consultation today.