Houston Premises Liability Attorney
When customers visit a business, there is some expectation they will be in a safe environment. Although not all accidents can be prevented, some measures can be taken to help ensure public safety. These businesses have a responsibility to keep people safe, and this is especially true for people invited onto the property.
When a person is injured because a property owner failed to maintain grounds free of hazards, that person may have a claim against the property owner to recover damages. This legal concept is called premises liability. Some of the most common forms of premises liability involve slip and fall injuries, negligent security and child injury.
How to Determine if I have a Premises Liability Claim
When you enter a property, the last thing on your mind is your physical safety. At Ben Bronston & Associates, we firmly believe you should not have to suffer due to the negligence of a property owner. Our premises liability attorneys make it a priority to carefully understand the short and long-term fallout from the accident, pursuing maximum compensation for your losses.
Ben Bronston has more than two decades of experience representing clients in civil litigation. He is dedicated to getting the best possible results in each case, and he makes sure the rights of his clients are represented. He has helped countless people who suffered life-changing injuries due to another party’s negligence.
Definition of Negligence in Premises Liability
Most personal injury claims work under a legal concept of negligence. In legal terms, negligence simply means the defendant had a responsibility or a duty to act in a certain way, but failed to do so. In premises liability cases, this means the property owner had a responsibility he or she did not fulfill.
Property owners have a duty to maintain their property in a way that is safe for those who enter. Even trespassers, or people who go onto the property without permission, are owed a duty not to be willfully or wantonly harmed.
In most cases, the property owner is responsible for at least warning people of potential dangers they already know about on the property. For example, if the floor of a business is wet after mopping, the owner likely would put a sign warning customers.
If a person is injured as a result of a property or business owner’s negligence, he or she could seek damages. Damages are considered a way to make up for what the victim suffered as a result of the negligence, including hospital bills, lost wages from missing work, lost ability to work, pain and suffering and more.
Common Scenarios Leading to Premises Liability Claims
Accidents leading to premises liability claims can happen in several different ways, and a variety of factors can contribute to an incident. Accidents are not limited to retail stores. They can happen at sporting events, concerts, conferences or other events that involve large numbers of people. Some general negligence scenarios that could contribute to an accident include:
- Accidents due to a defective elevator or escalator
- Slip and fall accidents due to uneven surfaces
- Being exposed to toxic fumes or chemicals
- Being injured in a fire due to lack of working smoke detectors
- Accidents due to a damaged balcony or deck
- Accidents that could have been prevented if not for housing code violations
- Lack of signage warning people to watch their step
- Dog bites or other animal attacks
- Inadequate lighting
- Toxic chemicals or fumes
- Assaults or other crimes due to negligent security
- Dangerous conditions due to snow or ice
- Failure to repair damaged areas or property
- Balcony, porch or railing accidents
- Faulty electrical wiring
Types of Premises Liability Claims
There are a variety of premises liability claims throughout Texas. Some of the most common include:
- Slip and Fall – These types of cases generally occur in grocery stores or other businesses where an item has broken and spilled on the floor, the floor is wet because it was recently mopped, the carpet was ripped or loose, a rug was on the floor and not secured, wires or cables were exposed or there was poor visibility or lighting in the building or premises.
- Negligent Security – These types of cases generally occur in a business where the owner of the premises failed to have adequate security to keep the premises safe and secure. This can occur in a hotel where the owner failed to have locks on the doors and a third party entered the premises and injured the plaintiff or stole the plaintiff’s property.
- Landlord Negligence – These types of cases can occur where a landlord failed to take adequate security measures the keep the premises safe and secure. For example, an apartment complex owner could be liable to an injured party if a gate was broken and the landlord was aware of the broken gate, but did not fix it, and a third party entered the premises where the gate was broken and injured the plaintiff or stole their property.
- Elevator Accidents – Elevators are often overlooked as an area for risk, but poor maintenance on an elevator can lead to serious danger for those who use it. Property management holds a responsibility for providing safe elevator use for all visitors.
- Swimming Pool Accidents – In the stifling Texas heat, many visitors and locals alike enjoy visiting swimming pools across the state. However, if a pool is not properly maintained or supervised, severe injuries and even death can occur.
Establishing Responsibility for Your Premises Liability Injuries
As a customer or a guest on another person’s property, you have the expectation you will be kept safe. Companies, business owners, property owners and landlords have a responsibility to ensure their venue is a safe environment for guests, customers and residents.
The owners must eliminate risks to visitors to the best of their abilities or post visible signage to inform guests. When a visitor, tenant or guest is injured, it may be confusing to establish which party to hold accountable for the damages. In most cases, the owner of the property is responsible for injuries that occur there, but some properties are managed by individual businesses or tenants.
For instance, the owner of a shopping center may lease out a building to a company. In these cases, the liability may fall to either party or both, depending on the circumstances. If a shopper is assaulted in a parking lot where the shopping center owner was aware of broken lights, the owner could be held liable.
Some situations may create difficult scenarios for determining liability where responsibility may be placed on other parties. For instance, in residential properties the landlord may hold partial liability. Contractors may also be held responsible for unsafe construction areas or faulty maintenance.
Elements to Proving an Injury Claim
Premises liability claims sometimes can be complex. There are several elements the injured party must be able to prove to have a solid claim against a property owner. The injured party must be able to prove:
- A condition existed on the premises that posed an unreasonable risk of harm to anyone present on the premises.
- The property owner or business owner knew or should have known the condition of the premises posed an unreasonable risk of harm.
- The property owner or business owner should have reasonable knowledge a guest on the property would not have been able to discover the danger or would not be able to protect themselves from the danger.
- The property owner or business owner was negligent when the condition was created or they knew about the condition and failed to correct it.
- The guest on the premises must have been injured.
- The dangerous condition on the premises must have caused the injury.
Key Issues in Premises Liability Claims
There are several key issues that could be considered before filing a premises liability claim. A Houston premises liability attorney can help you review all of the circumstances leading to the accident in which you were injured. Some of the things you should consider include:
- Did the property owner know the conditions could lead to an accident? Could the accident have been prevented? For instance, if a store owner or his or her employees knew of a spill and did not clean it up, leading to a slip and fall accident, the owner could be held liable.
- Was there negligence which caused my injuries? In a premises liability case, proving negligence is crucial. A person must be able to prove the property owner, business owner or landlord did not fulfill his or her duty to maintain a safe environment.
- Whose negligence led to my injuries and pain and suffering? For instance, if a person is injured in his or her apartment complex by a third party’s wrongful act, the case could present a complex issue of determining who is at fault. A Houston premises liability attorney can help.
Houston, Texas Premises Liability Lawyer
Before you talk to property owners and their insurance company, consider your legal options and contact a Houston premises liability attorney at Ben Bronston & Associates. Any offer of financial compensation they give is in their best interests and may not adequately cover your short-term or long-term expenses.