Jun 12

Who’s Responsible in Premises Liability Claims?

Slip & fall sign

When an injury occurs on private or public property, the question, “Who’s at fault?” is often the first thing on a person’s mind.  While the law varies slightly depending upon the situation, if an injury occurs on another person’s property, and if that injury was the cause of that property owner’s negligence, then the property owner will most likely be held responsible for the injury.

 

Slip and Fall Incidents

Slip and fall incidents are the most common type of premises liability accident that occurs in the U.S. A slip or a trip can result in everything from minor bruises and scrapes to broken hips, a traumatic brain injury, or even death. If the slip and fall was the result of negligence on the part of the homeowner, he may be held liable for the injury. Negligence refers to not taking reasonable actions to maintain the safety of the property, such as failing to shovel snow or remove ice from sidewalks and walkways; having an unreasonable amount of debris upon the property; having objects that obstruct walkways; failing to repair broken or cracked walking surfaces; and failing to replace carpet that is bulging or torn.

Food Poisoning

While incidents of food poisoning are far less talked about than slip and fall accidents, the U.S. Center for Disease Control reports that roughly 1 in every 6 Americans, or 48 million people, get sick each year as a result of spoiled food. If a person suffers from food poisoning, whether it be at a restaurant or at a private dinner party hosted in a home, the person preparing and serving the food may be held liable under premise liability law.

Dog Bites

Dog bites are one injury in Texas that don’t follow the same standard of owner liability that other injuries that occur outside of one’s own property do. Unlike slip and fall or food poisoning incidents that protect the victim if the property owner acted negligently, Texas dog bite law protects the dog’s owner from liability unless it is the dog’s second offense. In some cases, such as if the person attacked was provoking the dog or trespassing, the victim may be held liable.

Who’s liable?

While the owner of the property where the injury occurred will most likely be found liable for the injury, the relationship between the property owner and the person injured will determine the level of liability. In Texas, the relationship falls into one of three categories:

  • Invitee, or a person who was invited onto the property by the property owner, such as a person entering a friend’s home or a public store or park;
  • Licensee, or a person who entered the property with permission from the property owner but was not invited, such as an employee of a gas company who enters the property to check the gas meter; and
  • Trespasser, or a person who entered the property without permission or invitation from the property owner.

If a person is trespassing on a property, the property owner only needs to provide a safe environment to the extent that the property owner doesn’t cause injury by willful conduct. For a licensee, the property owner cannot cause injury either by willful conduct nor gross negligence. And, for an invitee, the owner must insure that the premise is reasonably safe. If the property is not maintained to a reasonably safe standard, and if this lack of safety results in an injury to the invitee, then the property owner may be held liable.

If you’ve been injured or know someone who has been injured on public or private property and you suspect negligence contact Tate Law Offices by calling 888-662-3892 today for a free case review.