Houston Slip & Fall Lawyers
In Houston, Texas and elsewhere, slip and fall (or trip and fall) accidents have been viewed with suspicion due to the belief that these types of personal injury claims can be fraudulently filed.
The fact is that many people each year are seriously injured on commercial and other property due the the negligence of the owner. When this happens, the victim is entitled under the law to bring a claim for compensation against the owner and their insurance company.
The law regarding premises liability for slip and fall injuries has been around for centuries and is meant to protect people from dangerous property conditions. Despite the beliefs of some people, slip and fall and trip and fall injuries can be serious including, back injuries, broken hips and other bones and head injuries.
Types of Slip and Falls in Stores, Restaurants and other Commercial Places
There are common types of slip and fall cases that occur regularly in stores and other commercial property including:
- Wet Floors after cleaning. When a store, office or other business cleans a floor, it is important to warn the public by putting up signs warning about the slippery floor. It is surprising how many times this simple security step is not taken. If you are injured in a slip and fall due to this negligent activity, you are entitled to seek compensation for your injuries.
- Substances dropped on floor by others. Certainly it is often the case the customers drop an item in a grocery store and just leave it there without notifying the store management. If this happens and then another customer immediately slips and falls in the substance, the store would likely not have liability. However, if the substance is on the floor for an unreasonable time or if an employee sees it before the slip and fall but takes no action, the store would be liable for the injuries.
- Defective surfaces. Uneven or broken surfaces can subject the property owner to liability for a slip and fall claim if the defect is considered an unreasonably dangerous condition.
- Conditions created by the Owner or Employees. Sometimes, a slip and fall is caused by a condition such as a spill created by an employee of the company or store. In this case, a claimant would not need to show many other facts of negligence – an employee leaving a spill on the floor would be a negligent act and certainly could be unreasonably dangerous.
Can Everybody Hurt on Somebody’s Property File a Claim?
Yes, however unlike other personal injury cases, the status of the injured party makes a difference in a property injury case. When you are on the property of another, you are considered an invitee, licensee or trespasser. Your status as one of these affects your rights if you are injured.
What is an Invitee?
An invitee is the most common type of plaintiff in a slip and fall case. An invitee is a person who goes on somebody else’s property after an express or implied invitation and for the mutual advantage of the invitee and the property owner. Folks who are injured in a grocery store or other business are considered invitees. The greatest duty of care is owed to an invitee to insure that the conditions are as safe as possible for customers.
What is a Licensee?
A licensee is a person who is permitted to enter property but for their own purposes are considered licensees. The most common form of licensees include utility workers and social guests.
What are Trespassers?
As the name suggests, a trespasser is somebody who enters the property without any permission or right. To determine if somebody was a trespasser, one only need to see if they have no authority or permission to be on the property. The fact that the trespasser does not know they are doing so does not make any difference.
What Duty is Owed to a Slip & Fall or Trip & Fall Victim?
Under Texas premises liability law, the duty owed by a property owner to a slip and fall victim depends upon their status as an invitee, licensee or trespasser:
Invitees. Owners of property owe invitees the duty to exercise ordinary care to keep the premises in reasonably safe condition and make safe any defects to prevent slip and fall injuries or to give an adequate warning. Four things must be shown to prove a slip and fall claim for an invitee such as a customer in a grocery store:
- The owner or occupier had actual or constructive knowledge of some condition on the property;
- The condition posed a unreasonable risk of harm;
- The owner or occupier failed to exercise reasonable care to reduce or eliminate the risk; and
- The failure to exercise reasonable care was the proximate cause of the injuries sustained in the slip and fall.
Licensees. An owner’s duty to a licensee in slip and fall or any other premises liability case includes the following:
- Not injure them willfully, wantonly or through gross negligence.
- Make safe or warn of any known dangerous condition
Trespassers. Trespassers are owed the lowest duty under the law in that they can only bring a claim if they are injured willfully, wantonly or through gross negligence. However, it case of children, the attractive nuisance doctrine applies and can subject a property owner to liability to trespassing children.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall or trip and fall accident on another’s property, contact Board-Certified Personal Injury Lawyer Michael P. Fleming for a free consultation. Call 737-201-0543 today.