Crime Victim Lawyers in Houston
While most people know that there are two types of lawsuits, criminal and civil, many are not aware of the differences between them. Criminal cases involve prosecution of a defendant by the state for a criminal act, such as drug possession. Civil litigation, on the other hand, refers to legal disputes between two or more individuals, at least one of whom is seeking monetary compensation from the other.
Civil litigation covers a wide range of legal claims, including those brought by private individuals who are seeking compensation from property owners and other third parties for injuries sustained on their property. This could include situations in which a person broke his or her arm after slipping and falling on a spill in a grocery store, but could also involve scenarios in which a person is injured during the commission of a crime. In the latter case, injured parties can file claims not only against the defendant whose violation of the law caused the accident, but also against any other third parties whose negligent conduct also contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries.
Filing this type of claim can be difficult, as it usually involves the liability of more than one person or entity, so if you were injured during the commission of a crime, it is important to contact an experienced crime victim lawyer in Houston who can help you seek compensation for your medical expenses and other losses.
Property Owner Liability
Property owners are required to use a certain degree of care when maintaining their property to ensure that visitors are not injured. However, the level of care that a property owner must use depends largely on the relationship between the parties involved. Landlords, for example, are required to protect tenants from and remedy dangerous conditions that exist on the property. The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that property owners who are aware of crime in the area and the potential risk it poses to an invitee can be held liable for injuries, but only if:
- The owner had direct knowledge of pending criminal actions on the property; or
- The crime was foreseeable due to similar actions taking place nearby or on the property.
One of the most important cases illustrating this concept was decided in 1998 when the Supreme Court grappled with a case in which a tenant was raped by an intruder in her apartment. As part of its ruling, the Court developed five factors that must be taken into account when determining whether a property owner can be held liable for criminal conduct that occurs on the property, including:
- Whether previous crimes have occurred on or near the premises;
- Whether previous crimes occurred within a relatively short time of the plaintiff’s injury;
- Whether previous crimes occurred a number of times within a certain time period;
- Whether previous crimes were similar to the crime in question; and
- Whether previous crimes were widely publicized.
If, after assessing these factors, a court decides that a property owner should have foreseen that a crime was likely to be committed in the area, he or she can be held liable for injuries sustained by the victim.
Call Today for Help with Your Case
Please contact Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. at 737-201-0543 to speak with an experienced and compassionate crime victim lawyer who can evaluate your case.