Texas Premises Liability: Special Rules and Legal Doctrines

Premises liability cases can be very difficult to prove fault. There are many issues that must be addressed when a person is injured in this manner. Working with a knowledgeable attorney in Texarkana TX is the most beneficial thing you can do when you have been injured in a premises liability case.

There are several issues that must be considered by your attorney to determine if your case is a simple premises liability case or a negligent activity case. While both fall under the rules of negligence, each type of case can be very different on who is responsible for the damages the injured party received.

Common Type Of Injuries

In most cases, the types of accidents that occur in a premises case concern slip and fall events. However, there are other issues that can fall under this same category. Some of the most common injuries found in this area of accidents include:

  • Slip and Fall
  • Dangerous Staircase/ Stairways
  • Electrocutions
  • Drownings
  • Injuries from Criminal Acts due to lack of security or lighting

These are not the only types of injuries that can occur. Your attorney will inform you how your actual injury and accident will be categorized.

Establishing Fault

The hardest part about these types of cases is determining who is at fault for the accident or if the injured party should have known there was a risk and avoided the problem.

It is the responsibility of a property owner or manager to keep their property in safe conditions for people to enter. This means that all property owners, whether private or business, must:

  • Keep walkways to and from and inside of property free of debris to allow safe walking
  • Keep stairways repaired, handrails secure, and stairwells well-lit to allow safe passage
  • Post notice of any electrical wires and take precaution to keep wires from being easily tripped over
  • Post notice of hazardous materials on the premises and keep in a safe area
  • If a pool on the premises proper precautions must be taken to prevent guests from drowning
  • Shelving units must be secured in store areas to prevent tipping or falling over onto guests
  • Rugs, mats, and other floor coverings must be secured in a manner to prevent slipping, tripping, or sliding
  • Liquid spills must be immediately cleaned so that slipping does not occur
  • Necessary precautions must be taken to control effects of the weather

Part of establishing fault is determining if the property owner or manager had prior knowledge to the condition or should have had knowledge of the condition prior to the accident. It is the responsibility of the injured party to prove that the premises owner knew that there was a potential for an injury to occur but did nothing about the problem.

This can be difficult, especially when there is a property owner and a renter involved in the case.

Landlord vs. Tenant- Who Is Responsible For The Injury?

As a general rule, when a landlord leases out a property or a suite within a property the tenant assumes all liability for injuries that occur within that property. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Some of these exceptions include:

  • Injuries which occur in common areas. For instance, if there is a hallway leading to the rented suite and the injury occurred in that hallway, the landlord will be held responsible for whatever caused that accident.
  • Injuries in parking areas. Parking areas are still under the control of the property owner and not the renter unless specifically stated in that lease that the tenant must maintain the parking areas.
  • Outside lighting. If the outside of the property becomes a hazard or a danger due to poor lighting and security measures, it is the responsibility of the property owner.
  • Necessary Repairs. If the property owner has been informed of a condition that they are required to repair and that condition in turn causes an accident before the repair is completed, the property owner is responsible for the injury.

The Problem With Warning Signs

One of the biggest issues that arise in a premises accident case is the “warning sign.” Many property owners believe that placing a warning sign at or near an area of their property that could lead to harm alleviates them from responsibility. In truth, the use of a warning sign could benefit the owner or the injured party depending on the circumstances.

If a property owner places a large sign stating “Warning Electrical Box Electrocution Hazard” on their utility box and a person obviously ignores this sign and reaches in the box and becomes injured, it is not the responsibility of the property owner for that injury.

However, if a property owner has a leak in their roof and when the water puddles on the floor and causes a slipping hazard, placing a sign up is not protection from liability. In fact, the sheer act of placing up a wet floor sign actually states that the owner is aware of the problem and has not done anything to remedy the situation. If there is water leaking on the floor the owner has a responsibility to continually try to keep the floor dry and safe and make the necessary repairs to prevent the problem from happening again.

Because this is such an important part of the case, your attorney in Texarkana TX will examine even the finest details surrounding the accident so fault can absolutely be established for the event.

What To Do When You Have Been Injured

Accidents that involve property liability can be made much easier if you use the following steps to your benefit. Anyone who has been injured in this manner should:

  • File a report with the manager immediately. You want to document your accident at the time it occurred. If possible, stay where you are (on the ground) so that the manager or owner can see exactly what it looked like when you fell or were injured. Complete all paperwork that they request.
  • Take pictures. If your phone is handy snap pictures of your injuries if possible and the surrounding area. This will be very useful in establishing what occurred.
  • Take down witness names. Your attorney will want to speak with witnesses at a later date.
  • Seek immediate medical care. Even if you think your injuries are minor, you will want to take precaution and go have yourself examined by a doctor. Many times what seems like a simple ache, pain or headache is actually a serious injury. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
  • Refrain from issuing a statement. You will be required to tell the insurance company of the property owner that you were injured. However, you should avoid providing too much information to them until you have spoken with an attorney. Protect your rights and hire an attorney first. Simply decline the interview by telling the insurer you wish to speak with your lawyer.
  • Work with your attorney. Make sure that you make all of your appointments, submit all of your documents and go to all of your medical appointments scheduled by your attorney. This ensures that your case runs smoothly and quickly.

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