Injuries Caused by Negligence on Residential and Commercial Property
In Texas, as in all states, the owner and/or occupying party in control of commercial or residential property has a duty to anyone legally visiting the property to take reasonable steps to minimize the risk or likelihood of injury. The rules governing this duty are generally referred to by the term “premises liability” or “slip and fall.” The laws establishing rights and responsibilities after this type of accident have developed over hundreds of years, originating in the English common law, found in opinions handed down by judges.
What Must an Injured Person Show in Texas to Recover Damages in a Premises Liability Claim?
To succeed with a slip and fall claim, a plaintiff (injured person) must generally prove the following:
- That the defendant (person from whom compensation is sought) either knew or should have known of a potentially dangerous condition on the property, depending on the status of the visitor
- That the defendant failed to act as a reasonable person would in response to the potentially dangerous condition
- That the potentially dangerous condition caused injury to the plaintiff
How Does the Status of the Visitor Affect Liability in Texas?
Yes. A property owner or occupier in control of residential or commercial property generally owes no duty to maintain the premises to persons who are not legally on the property, such as trespassers. The only duty owed to trespassers is to abstain from any actions that cause injury through willful or wanton behavior, or through gross negligence.
Persons legally on the property are generally categorized as:
Invitees—An invitee comes on the property of an owner/occupier with either express or implied knowledge/consent for reasons that provide benefit to both parties. The premises may be property where the public is generally invited, or the visit may be for purposes that result in financial gain by the owner/occupier. Retail customers are typically considered invitees, as are business clients, diners and bar patrons.
The owner/occupier owes an invitee a duty to reasonably inspect the premises to discover any potential hazard. Once discovered, the potential danger must either be fixed, or the owner/occupier must provide reasonable notice/warning of the potential risk. An invitee need not prove actual knowledge of the hazard but may recover compensation if it can be proved that the owner/occupier should have known.
Licenses—A licensee is someone who comes onto the property with the knowledge or permission of the owner/occupier (either express or implied), but solely for the benefit or convenience of the owner/occupier. Examples of licensees include social guests, landscapers, house painters or delivery people.
An owner/occupier owes a licensee a duty of ordinary care to either fix/remediate any unsafe conditions, or to provide reasonable warning of any potential dangers. There is no duty to inspect the premises to discover potential hazards. Furthermore, a licensee must show actual knowledge of a potential danger—it’s not enough to prove that a reasonable person should have known. Additionally, if the owner/occupier can prove that the licensee had actual knowledge of the hazard before the accident, recovery will be barred.
Contact the Proven Personal Injury Lawyers at Bailey & Galyen
At the law offices of Bailey & Galyen, we understand the devastating impact any type of personal injury can have on every part of your life, including all types of slip and fall-related injuries. We’ll aggressively protect your rights throughout the legal process, acting as your intermediary with insurance companies and as your voice in all meetings, hearings and legal proceedings.Contact us by e-mail or 844-402-2992 call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.