Slip and fall accidents happen. Make sure you understand these requirements for winning your lawsuit so you know what to expect.
You’re on someone else’s property. You slip. You fall. You’re hurt.
Does the property owner owe you compensation? Maybe.
Requirements For A Successful Slip and Fall Lawsuit
You must show the property owner owed you a duty of care.
Property owners have different responsibilities for those on their premises. This depends on your status while on their property:
- Invitee: Property owners must show you a duty of care because they’ve invited you to be on their property. Usually, you’re a customer or a client.
- Licensee: In this case, you’re on the property with permission, but the property isn’t open to the general public. An example would be inviting a professional to perform a repair.
- Trespasser: Property owners have no duty of care for trespassers. However, they may not set a trap or intend to cause deliberate harm to them.
So, you typically have to prove you were at least a licensee at the time of your injuries.
You must show the property owner’s negligence caused your injury.
Slip, trip, and fall accidents happen. You could get hurt on someone else’s property without them acting negligently in any way. For example, say you fall on a banana peel a toddler threw on the ground thirty seconds before you entered a grocery store. Since the property owner didn’t have enough time to cure the dangerous condition, you likely can’t show they were negligent.
To win your slip and fall accident claim, you’ll typically have to show:
- A dangerous condition existed long enough for a reasonable property owner to address it (“constructive notice”) or
- The property owner or manager – by and through its employee(s) – had actual knowledge of the dangerous condition and failed to take necessary steps to make it safe (“actual notice”)
You must show that you were not responsible for your injuries.
Typically, property owners defend themselves by showing you were at least partially responsible for your own injuries. For example, if you were talking on your phone when you slipped.
Texas uses the “modified comparative fault rule,” which simply means you can’t recover damages if you are 51% or more responsible for your own injuries. If you had partial responsibility below that, you lose that amount from your settlement or claim’s final total.
Texas premises liability law is very complicated. Your status on the property as a licensee or Invitee can greatly impact your legal rights. Questions to be addressed will likely include:
- Did you engage in any activity that could have prevented you from noticing the hazard that caused your injuries?
- Did you have lawful access, or a legitimate reason to be in the area that caused your accident?
- Did you ignore warning signs or other safety measures taken?
- Did an employee create the dangerous condition so that actual knowledge should be presumed?
The more evidence you gather at the time of your injury, the easier it is to prove your claim. Put your phone to use and take as many photos and videos as you can to make it clear your injuries were the property owner’s fault.
That way, you’ll have a far easier time proving your slip and fall accident claim and getting fair compensation.
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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. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.