Whether you slip on a puddle created from a leaky cooler in a grocery store or you are hit by a falling object while passing by a construction site, you can suffer significant injuries. The area of premises liability law provides legal remedies for people injured on commercial, private, or public property. These cases often prove challenging because key evidence and facts often disappear since they are under the exclusive control of the property owner. At Hampton Eppes Law Group, our attorneys have decades of combined experience. Some of the premises liability cases we are able to assist clients with include:
- Accidents in Apartment Complexes
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Fire-Related Accidents
- Pool and Spa Injury and Entrapment Inuries and Drownings
- Construction Site Accidents
- Balcony, Stairwell, Deck & Elevator Accidents
- Industrial Site Accidents
- Workplace Injuries
Why Texas Premises Liability Cases Are Unique
Under Texas law, individuals injured on the premises of third parties must overcome considerable obstacles when pursuing a civil lawsuit for their injuries. Tort reform efforts have made the laws of our state less than accommodating for individuals injured in the businesses or on the property of others.
Premises liability cases in Texas fall into several different categories that determine what a plaintiff must prove to prevail. These types of cases include:
Negligent Undertaking Cases: This type of premises liability claim frequently arises in a tenant-landlord context. The property owner contracts or endeavors to perform a duty he or she would not otherwise be legally obligated to perform. For example, a landlord might sign a lease wherein he or she agrees to provide security for the apartment complex in which the tenant rents a unit. If the tenant suffers an injury during the commission of a crime like rape or assault and battery committed by a third party, the landlord might be financially responsible for the tenant’s injuries under this legal theory.
Conventional Premises Liability Cases: This form of premises liability claim resembles common law theories of liability in many jurisdictions. The plaintiff must establish: (1) a hazard existed on the property; (2) the injury was caused by the hazard; (3) the owner created the hazard, knew, or should have known of the hazard prior to the accident; and (4) the property owner neglected to warn of the hazard or to make the hazard safe before the accident.
Cases Involving a Negligent Activity: An employee of the owner neglected to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances.
Limits on Use of Constructive Knowledge
While constructive knowledge provides an effective approach to proving liability in other jurisdictions, the Texas Supreme Court has imposed significant limits on the use of this legal theory in Texas premises liability lawsuits. Our state’s highest court has ruled that mere allegations and speculation are not sufficient evidence that an owner should have known of a hazard. For example, testimony that an employee was nearby during the accident does not provide adequate proof of the constructive knowledge of the business or property owner. The plaintiff must have admissible evidence to rely on constructive knowledge, such as evidence regarding the length of time the hazard was present and the manner in which the company/s employees should have discovered it. This can be a difficult task when the employee claims to have had no knowledge of the hazard, and the victim did not know the hazard existed before the accident.
Challenges in Proving Liability When Suffering Injury on Another’s Property
Conventional premises liability cases in Texas have become difficult to pursue because many business owners and their insurance companies summarily deny these claims. The evolution of Texas premises liability law makes it a challenge just to get these cases heard by the judge or jury. Evidence to prove these cases poses a challenge because defendants routinely contend they lacked knowledge of the unsafe condition, did not create the danger, or set up adequate warning signs prior to the accident.
When responding to these defenses, the plaintiff must present evidence that the business or premises owner knew or created the unsafe condition. This can be difficult because the premises and the hazard typically are within the exclusive control of the defendant. Individuals injured by dangerous conditions should take certain steps to preserve their claim, such as:
- Make sure to report the accident and ask the employees to prepare an accident report
- Photograph your injuries, the hazard that caused the accident, and relevant environmental factors like narrow aisles or poor lighting
- Request that any security footage of the area be preserved
- Be polite without admitting fault, downplaying your injuries, or saying “I’m sorry”
- Remain silent about getting an attorney
- Obtain contact information of witnesses with prior knowledge of the hazard
- Seek prompt medical attention and agree to be transported to the hospital via ambulance if appropriate
- Promptly contact an experienced Parker County premises liability attorney
If we are retained early in the process, we can conduct an investigation and send a notice regarding “spoliation” of evidence to the potential defendants. This notice warns the business and/or property owner of the legal duty to preserve evidence like video footage and maintenance logs.
Speak to a Skilled Premises Liability Lawyer Today!
When you suffer serious injury because of the indifference or carelessness of a property or business owner, the decades of collective experience of our Parker County premises liability attorneys can help you overcome the obstacles to prevailing in these difficult cases. We invite you to contact us today at (817) 877-5201 for a free case evaluation.
Hampton Eppes Law Group
117 N. Main Street
Weatherford, Texas 76086