Have you been injured in a Slip & Fall Accident?
Although a Slip & Fall Accident may not be common knowledge, property owners throughout Texas have an obligation to provide a reasonably safe environment to lawful visitors, residents, tenants or customers. When this does not occur, and a hazardous situation exists that is not repaired, a slip and fall accident may happen. Depending on the incident, a slip and fall may cause severe and lasting injury.
Slip & Fall Accident / Premises Liability cases cover a broad range of circumstances in which people are injured or suffer a wrongful death on a commercial or residential property, for which property insurance typically pays coverage.
Examples of Slip & Fall/Premises Liability Personal Injury Cases
- Slip and Fall injuries such as back or spine injuries when a customer slips on a wet floor that lacks signage to warn customers of slippery conditions at a store, club, salon, restaurant, etc.
- Trip and Fall injuries such as fractures when a hotel guest trips on cleaning supplies left in a hallway or a rug that is frayed or bunched up in front of a door.
- Dog Bites from a dog that is not adequately restrained on its owner’s property.
- Falling Merchandise at a warehouse or store strikes you on the head or body causing injury.
- Malfunctioning elevator or a door with a broken closing device causes bodily injury.
- Sexually Assaulted because a hotel did not provide adequate security.
- Dram Shop liability because a restaurant or bar served its customer drinks until he/she was intoxicated and then the customer drove and injured a person.
Summary of Texas Slip & Fall/Premises Liability Law
The relationship between the injured party and the owner or operator of the property affects the duty which may be owed to the injured person. Landlords owe a different duty to their tenants than does a landowner to people lawfully visiting the premises. In other words, a landlord may owe a different duty to a tenant than the owner of a store owes to a patron.
When is a Landowner Liable for Injury?
For a plaintiff (the injured person) to be successful in an action against a landowner, the plaintiff must prove the following:
- there was a condition of the defendant’s (landowner) property which presented an unreasonable risk of harm to persons on the premises;
- the defendant knew, or in the exercise of ordinary care should have known that the condition of his property involved an unreasonable risk of harm to persons on the premises;
- the defendant should have anticipated that persons on the premises would not discover or realize the danger, or would otherwise fail to protect themselves against it;
- the defendant was negligent;
- the plaintiff was injured;
- the condition of the defendant’s property was a cause of the injury to the plaintiff.
One of the more difficult elements for a plaintiff to prove is that the defendant knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. It is not necessary to prove that the landowner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition if there is evidence that the dangerous condition was created by the defendant, its agents (employees) or their activities. In such cases, the landowner has a duty to exercise ordinary care for the safety of those lawfully on the property. As notice of a dangerous condition is often the most difficult element of a premises liability action to prove, cases involving a defective condition created by the landowner may be more likely to succeed.
Liability of Landlord for Tenant Injury
The law in Texas draws a distinction between those injuries which occur in areas “reserved for common use” and those which occur in space leased to a tenant. Areas “reserved for common use” include hallways, stairways or the parking lot. The space leased to the tenant such as an apartment is not “reserved for common use”.
The landlord must be careful to keep the premises reserved for common use reasonably safe. The law requires that the landlord has either actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition which causes injury. For example, the plaintiff must prove that a railing that fails on a shared porch was not kept in a reasonably safe condition and that the landlord knew or should have known that the railing was defective. Whether the landlord had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition is again often the most difficult element for the plaintiff to prove. It is not, however, necessary to prove actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition if the condition was created by the defendant.
What if the injury occurred not in an area reserved for common use but within the leased space? A landlord may be liable for injuries suffered as a result of a defective condition within an apartment or other area leased to tenants. A landlord must tell a tenant of a defect on the premises about which he knows or, from facts known to him, should know, and which could not be discovered by the tenant after a reasonable inspection. The landlord must tell the tenant about known defects at the time the tenant moves in. The issue of whether a landlord knew or should have known of a defective condition before the tenant moved in, is frequently contentious.
Have you been injured in a slip and fall?
A Slip & Fall Accident Attorney at The Law Office of Sean Chalaki P.C. can meet with you to talk about your case and whether you may have grounds for a lawsuit by premises liability – the property owner or manager’s responsibility to maintain property grounds. Although premises liability may vary on a case-by-case basis depending on the particular property and what the victim was doing at the time of the accident, there are specific actions that may constitute property owner negligence following a slip and fall claim.