When property owners allow dangerous or hazardous conditions to persist, they may be held liable for the injuries that result. At Seerden Law Firm, PLLC, our Houston premises liability attorney has extensive experience helping people recover full and fair compensation for injuries suffered on a dangerous property.
There are many types of premises liability. If you or a family member has been injured on someone else’s property, including business locations, please give our firm a call today. Attorney Andrew Seerden will personally meet with you to discuss your case and answer all your questions in a free consultation.
What Is Premises Liability?
Anytime someone is injured on someone else’s property or on a business’s property, a claim for compensation is known as a premises liability claim. Texas law specifies a number of particular rules and policies regarding an injured person’s right to compensation, and it all depends on the injured person’s relationship to the property owner.
There are three general categories of liability in Texas:
If you are on someone else’s property for a mutual benefit to you and the owner, then you are generally considered an invitee. In other words, if you were invited to the property for the purpose of business, you will usually be categorized this way.
In these situations, you are owed the highest degree of care and protection. Examples of invitees may include:
- Shoppers at a store
- The general public in a restaurant
- The mailman
- Delivery people
A property owner owes a significant duty to invitees. This includes the duty to notify invitees of known or potential risks. The key is that the owner must have notice or “constructive notice” of the potential hazard. Likewise, the property owner must keep the property in a reasonably safe condition for visitors.
What is constructive notice? There are many things a land owner or property owner can do to determine whether their property is safe. The law charges property owners with the responsibility of performing reasonable maintenance and inspection. Therefore, even if the property owner is personally unaware of the dangers on the premises, the law says that a failure to take reasonable steps to identify problems will not relieve the owner of liability for injuries suffered on the property.
This special category includes people who are guests for social or personal reasons. In Texas, the law considers these people deserving of protection, but to a lesser degree than an invitee. These individuals generally include:
- Social guests
- Family members
If you are a licensee, then the property owner owes you a slightly lower duty. Instead of having to make the property “safe,” the property owner needs only make guests aware of risks that are latent (things they cannot readily observe). Examples include holes on the property, loose steps or sharp objects.
What is the open and obvious defense? If something is open and obvious to everyone, the property owner does not always have a responsibility to make others aware. The law says that guests are charged with being able to personally observe dangers and take reasonable steps to avoid them.
Finally, people who are on a property illegally have very little rights. However, the law does say that property owners are required to exercise caution so as not to intentionally harm or be grossly negligent toward a trespasser. This does not necessarily include situations where a trespasser is on the property to do harm. In that case, Texas residents do still have a right to exercise self-defense.
In terms of civil liability, trespassers are people who may have accidentally wandered onto the property by mistake, children, or others who are not welcome but do not intend harm. The law does require property owners to avoid intentionally harming innocent, albeit trespassing, individuals.
Children and Attractive Nuisances
One unique wrinkle that often comes up in premises liability cases is the issue of whether a child can be held to the same standard as an adult. In general, small children are considered incapable of recognizing the risks that adults may readily be able to understand. For instance, an adult knows that a trampoline poses a risk. Someone jumping on it could hurt themselves. A child, on the other hand, may just see an exciting and fun item to play with.
The law says that property owners are required to take reasonable precautions to protect children from dangers that may attract them. These generally include things like tree houses, pools, trampolines, or similar items that may entice a child to trespass on property.
If a child enters a property without permission, a property owner may not always be able to claim the lower duty that they normally would apply to a trespasser. It all depends on the child and their age and level of maturity.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Claim?
The first thing you must prove in order to recover compensation in a premises liability claim is the applicable “duty.” This depends on your status (invitee, licensee, or trespasser). Once you prove your appropriate status, you must next prove:
- How the property owner violated that duty to you
- That the property owner’s actions directly led to your injury
- The amount of the damages you incurred
Proving a claim is often very difficult, and insurance companies will fight fiercely to avoid paying victims. However, we can help you fight for the full compensation you deserve if you have suffered an accident.
At Seerden Law Firm, PLLC, we always begin by trying to understand how the injury happened and what was done before and afterward. Many times, there is helpful evidence in the form of video, photo, or even eyewitness testimony. Our firm is very good at gathering evidence in order to build your case.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
It’s often complicated to prove who should be held liable for injuries on dangerous property. Businesses are often made up of various corporations, limited liability companies, and partnerships that may have an ownership interest.
Our savvy legal team can investigate your accident to identify the appropriate parties that may be held responsible. These could include owners/managers of:
- Grocery stores
- Retail establishments
- Apartment complexes
- Shopping malls
- Government entities
After you’ve been hurt, property owners’ insurance carriers may reach out to you to discuss your case. Make sure you do not give any statements to these insurance representatives. Their job is to figure out a way not to pay you for your injuries.
Instead, contact a board-certified personal injury trial lawyer today.
Examples of Premises Liability Cases in Houston
Just about anything can happen on a premises, from falls to animal attacks. Some of the most common examples of premises liability claims include:
- Slip and fall accidents or trip and fall injuries
- Dog bites
- Falls from balconies and raised patios
- Trampoline injuries
- Swimming pool injuries or drownings
- Negligent security (property owner fails to provide adequate security)
If you have been hurt on someone else’s property, please contact us to discuss your accident and learn about your legal rights.
How our Houston Premises Liability Lawyers Can Help You
Our first and primary focus is making sure that the responsible party is held accountable for the injury. If a property owner was careless or negligent in not maintaining the premises or failing to warn you of the problem, our attorney may be able to assist with your claim. Here’s how we can help:
- Free Initial Consultation. First, firm founder Andrew Seerden will meet with you personally to discuss your injuries and figure out how your accident happened. During this initial appointment, you’ll have a chance to ask important questions and get helpful advice about what to do next. This is a great starting point for you to get to know our firm and make a plan for recovering compensation.
- Medical Treatment. Many of our clients have great health insurance, but a lot of people may have concerns about the rising costs of care, or they may be struggling to find an in-network doctor to treat them. Fortunately, over the years our firm has developed a number of strong relationships with physicians, physical therapists, rehab experts, and other medical specialists, many of whom might be willing to help treat your injuries. Our attorney will carefully track your medical care and coordinate with your medical providers to make sure your expenses are documented.
- Aggressive Settlement Negotiations. Once our firm is able to identify the full extent of your injuries, your attorney can begin the process of negotiating a settlement with the insurance company. This process can take some time, but having an experienced trial lawyer on your side will generally give you a better chance of success with your claim. Insurance companies tend to understand that without a lawyer, you are at their mercy. With a skilled personal injury trial attorney fighting on your behalf, there is always a risk that they will have to answer to a jury.
- Trial Success. If the insurance company will not pay or the defendant is unwilling to negotiate, our firm may need to file a premises liability lawsuit. Fortunately, after many years of compassionate service to clients throughout Texas, Andrew Seerden has been recognized as a board-certified trial lawyer. This is a distinction that less than 2 percent of all Texas lawyers hold. So if your case has to be taken before a jury, you can count on excellent and skilled representation in court.
Compensation in a Houston Premises Liability Claim
When you are injured by someone else, the law in Texas gives you specific options for recovering compensation. If a negligent property owner or business failed to keep their premises in working order or failed to notify you of a specific danger, then it only makes sense that individual or company should pay for the harm caused.
Compensation can include:
- Payment for your physical pain, suffering, and discomfort
- Money to reimburse you for medical bills
- Money for future anticipated medical care
- Money to cover the cost of transportation and inconvenience
- Reimbursement for lost income and wages
- Payment for diminished earning capacity in the future
- Compensation for emotional distress or anxiety
A seasoned lawyer can explain all your legal rights to compensation and ensure the damages you have suffered are thoroughly documented.
Time Limits on Claims in Texas
In most cases, you will only have two years to bring a lawsuit against a negligent property owner. If you fail to do so, you will forever waive your right to compensation for a personal injury.
There are, of course, a number of exceptions to the rule. Be sure you don’t make an inaccurate assumption or wait until the last minute. Otherwise, you could find yourself on the hook for lots of unpaid medical bills and related expenses.
Talk to a Trusted Premises Liability Attorney in Houston Now
Andrew Seerden has been helping injured people for more than a decade. If you’ve been hurt on someone else’s property or in a business, give our firm a call today. We provide all clients with a free and completely confidential case consultation, during which we answer questions and help you make good choices about your next steps. Often we can set your mind at ease and help provide realistic and creative solutions that you may not even be considering.
Also remember that our firm never charges a fee upfront. Instead, we get paid only upon successfully recovering compensation for you and your injury. So contact Seerden Law Firm, PLLC, today to speak to a board certified personal injury trial lawyer right here in Houston, TX.