What does a property owner have to do to keep you safe? It depends. They may have a lot of responsibility, or not at all. Learn more in this article.
Despite how the media makes slip-and-fall cases sound, the law regarding them is actually quite reasonable.
It’s not like you can go from store-to-store all day long, looking for a dangerous condition, slip, fall, and collect a big payday.
The media presents stories that way and leaves out important facts to get you angry so you watch their story (and so they can then charge higher prices to companies who want to advertise on their station).
Texas’ premises liability law says both you and the property owner have responsibilities.
A property owner’s responsibility toward you depends on your status (licensee, invitee, trespasser) when you’re on their property.
Take a closer look at how this works practically:
Responsibility Toward Invitees
“Invitee” is the most common status when slip-and-fall cases arise. This means the property owner allows you to be on their property for business reasons.
This includes a store’s customers – or even job applicants. Property owners have the highest degree of responsibility toward invitees.
The property owner must repair and correct known dangers. And they also must regularly inspect for, discover, and correct dangerous conditions.
However, they only have a “reasonable” duty to do so and may not be liable in every case.
If they perform regular inspections and someone spills a drink all over their floor, they may not be liable for your injuries.
If you had awareness of the dangerous condition, if it was open and obvious, or if you misused the property of the owner, you may have no claim at all.
Most slip-and-fall claims involve licensees.
Responsibility Toward Licensees
A “licensee” has special permission from a property owner for a specific purpose. For example, this could be a plumber called in to repair leaky pipes.
In this case, property owners only have to repair and correct known dangerous conditions for the licensee.
They do not have to actively inspect for and discover unknown dangerous conditions.
Responsibility Toward Children
Texas law covers “attractive nuisances.” This means something like a swimming pool or heavy machinery – something children would find interesting to play in, on, or around.
In this case, property owners have the responsibility to do everything they can to keep children away from the attractive nuisance.
For a swimming pool, that may include a barrier. Although not necessarily a locked barrier.
If a property owner doesn’t take such measures, they then might be liable for any injuries suffered by a child.
Responsibility Toward Trespassers
Trespassers have practically no protection at all, and rightfully so. A property owner has no obligation to protect trespassers.
And they may also not willfully injure trespassers.
For example, a farmer owns a field where local teens drive their cars, spin donuts, and ruin his property.
That farmer cannot scatter nails about his property, hoping to poke holes in the tires of the teens’ cars.
Legally, a property owner cannot create a dangerous condition, fail to warn trespassers about it, knowing that it’s likely to cause harm to trespassers or their property.
That’s a quick guide to property owners’ responsibility towards you when you use their property.
And if you find yourself injured, talk to a personal injury lawyer because they offer free consultations and can make sure you get fair compensation when appropriate.