Austin Premises Accidents Attorneys
Texas courts regularly hear cases involving premises accidents and are asked to determine who is responsible when an individual suffers an injury on property that is not their own.
State law provides many legal protections for property owners and requires plaintiffs in personal injury cases to prove several points, including:
- The property owner either was aware of, or should have known about, the problem or hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
- The property owner had a reasonable amount of time to mitigate the problem or hazard, but did not do so.
- The plaintiff was not trespassing or forbidden from being in a specific area when the injury occurred.
Those are the basic arguments that support a claim of property-owner liability. But cases involving recreational land use, governmental entities, and agricultural land can be much more complicated.
If you or someone in your family suffered an injury at a place of business, on another person’s land, or on municipal land, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, medical costs, and loss of income. The Evans & Herlihy Law Firm has successfully represented personal injury clients in Texas, often settling cases before they reach the courtroom.
Premises Liability and Public Areas
If a person were to suffer a trip-and-fall injury due to a defect in a shopping center’s parking lot, one might assume the shopping center would be liable for that injury. But such cases may involve multiple parties – the shopping center and parking lot may be owned by different companies, and a third company may be responsible for maintaining the parking lot. A court could find one or more parties liable for failing to correct a defect.
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Title 5, Chapter 101, covers the two types of premise defects for a which a municipality could be found liable:
- Special defects – Unexpected and unusual dangers, such as a missing manhole cover, an open excavation trench, roadway flooding, or a missing stop sign. Municipalities must provide some warning of special defects, which is why police officers are usually dispatched to direct traffic at intersections with malfunctioning or inoperable stoplights.
- Premise defects – The general rules of governmental liability for premise defects are the same as they are for private businesses. A plaintiff must be able to show that a government knew or should have known about a defect and did not make repairs in a reasonable amount of time.
Protections for Landowners
Landowners in Texas enjoy some measure of liability protection, and when they allow someone onto their land for hunting, fishing, or other outdoor activities, there is no implied guarantee of safety. Landowners that charge a fee for use of their land, however, may trigger a greater degree of responsibility. For example:
If an entity were building a hiking trail and received permission from a landowner to build a section of the trail across his or her land, the landowner would not be responsible for any injuries that occurred on that section of trail. But if a landowner charged fees for use of his or her land exceeding 20 times the amount of property tax paid in the previous calendar year, the landowner would assume a greater duty of care for persons using the property.
Determining ‘Reasonable’ Expectation
The Texas Supreme Court in 2010 upheld a lower court’s findings that a nightclub was liable for a man’s injuries – and $1.5 million in damages – for failing to react to a hazard. The case involved members of a fraternity and a wedding party who exchanged insults and threats inside a nightclub for about an hour before a physical altercation broke out and a man suffered a skull fracture. The high court found the nightclub was liable for the man’s injuries, because it should have had a reasonable expectation that a fight might occur, but it continued serving the parties alcohol and did not call security.
Help for Premises Accidents
Attorneys who have experience in premises liability know the outcome of a case can hinge on a single word or phrase. The Evans & Herlihy Law Firm understands the nuances of premises liability law, and we’ve used that knowledge to ensure plaintiffs receive the compensation they deserve for their pain and suffering.
If you need help with your personal injury case, ask for your free consultation today. Fill out our online contact form, or call us at 1-855-414-1012.