A store or property owner posts a sign. You get hurt. Can you still sue for compensation?
About Posted Signs & Premises Liability Law
You see a sign at the store: “Slippery When Wet.”
Your neighbor has a big “Beware Of Dog” sign that you couldn’t possibly miss.
A local farmer has a noticeable “Trespassing Strictly Prohibited” signs posted every 10 feet on their property.
So one week, you have what’s possibly the worst week of your life. You walk right by the “Slippery When Wet” sign and fall flat on your back, causing a minor back injury. You didn’t know your neighbors just got a new guard dog, and you didn’t notice that sign either. The dog bites you and takes a big chunk out of your leg.
Irritated with all the stress in your life, you and your friends decide to deal with it by going onto that farmer’s property and trampling his corn. As you do that, you step on some nails the farmer concealed in the ground because teenagers have been doing donuts on his property.
Even though you acted with ignorance or irresponsibility in all cases, and you were clearly given notice, can you still recover compensation for your injuries?
In other words, is a simple sign enough notice to prevent you from taking any legal action and trying to recover compensation from any of these parties?
You’d Think the Answer is Obvious, But It’s Not
Preventing lawsuits isn’t as simple as posting a sign. Let’s start with the “Slippery When Wet” sign at the store. Most likely, you won’t be able to recover compensation in that scenario – as long as the sign was clearly posted.
You assume the risk when you walk on a wet floor with notice. However, if the sign wasn’t obvious – say it was posted hidden behind a display where no one could see it – you may be able to recover some compensation.
“Beware of Dog” Signs Can Actually Be Used Against Homeowners
To prove liability for a dog bite, you have to show the owner had knowledge their dog had “vicious propensities.” A “Beware of Dog” sign may indicate they had some awareness of that.
However, that sign could also be used against you. After all, you decided to get near the dog even though the sign warned you not to.
What About “No Trespassing” Signs?
The “Trespassing Strictly Prohibited” sign likely makes you a trespasser because you saw it and decided to enter the person’s property anyway. However, the law requires that even trespassers must be notified of artificial property conditions that could cause them harm.
If you step on a nail while trespassing, you may be able to recover compensation for that. (Although ultimately a jury might have a difficult time awarding damages given those facts) But, if you step in a hole, fall down, and break your leg, you’d likely not be able to recover compensation for that injury.
If you were hurt on another’s property due to their negligence contact our attorneys today.
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years (since 1983). Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.