If you get hurt on someone else's property – whether it was at a shopping mall or at someone's house – it can be both costly and frustrating. Depending on how dangerous the condition was that caused you to slip and fall, significant hospital bills, lengthy recovery time, and permanent debilitation could be on the horizon. The worst part about is that you had no idea that the area was dangerous, and had no warning.
Fortunately, property owners have legal responsibilities to keep a property in good shape, so other people like you don't get hurt on it. This responsibility can even extend to people other than the owner, like a property manager or a tenant, if they have enough control over the property. If the person in charge doesn't follow through on their duty to keep you safe, and their oversight results in you getting hurt, then they should make sure that you get compensated for their negligence. They are, after all, responsible for what happened to you.
This is where the law of premises liability comes into play – it determines when a property owner or manager should be held liable for your injuries. Premises liability law protects people who get unfairly hurt because someone else couldn't be bothered to keep their property in a safe condition. If you can successfully show that the property manager or owner was responsible to keep you safe, and then didn't follow through on that responsibility, and their failure led to your injury, you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries caused by their negligence.
Sorting Out Who Was Responsible
Showing that someone is a property owner or manager can be difficult, especially after a premises liability problem happened on their grounds. Knowing that a lawsuit might be on the horizon, anyone who could be found responsible try passing the property around like a hot potato so they're not the one being sued. Landlords will try covering themselves behind a tenant, or property owners will claim not to be involved in the maintenance of their own building. Those with deep pockets will try desperately to pass the blame onto someone without any, so that it seems like a lawsuit wouldn't get very far.
Experienced personal injury attorneys at the Dreyer & Mazaheri law firm, however, know about all the different ways property owners try to deflect blame and avoid responsibility. With copious amounts of experience representing clients hurt by the negligence of others, Dreyer & Mazaheri can fight these efforts to dodge responsibility, and get you what you deserve.
Your Legal Status as a Visitor
After successfully bringing the property owner to court, a lot will depend on your legal status as a visitor, which hinges on why you were on the property when you got hurt.
There are three types of visitors, under Texas law: Trespassers, licensees, and invitees. Property owners owe different duties to each of these categories.
Trespassers are those who are on someone else's property without a lawful reason, or without the owner's authorization or permission. Typically, a property owner or manager has very little responsibility to protect trespassers – they only have to keep from willfully and wantonly injuring you.
Licensees are those who are on someone's property with their express or implied permission, but not by actual invitation. An example of a licensee is an electric company employee that walks up to your house to read the meter. If you're a licensee, then property owners have a duty not to cause an injury through willful or wanton conduct, or gross negligence, and have to warn you of hidden dangers that they have actual knowledge of.
Invitees are people who enter someone's property with their knowledge or consent, and for either the owner's financial benefit or for the reason why the property is held open to the public. Property owners need to take reasonable care to keep their premises reasonably safe for an invitee's use.
Failure to Uphold That Duty
Regardless of what kind of visitor you are, when a property owner fails to uphold the duty they owe to you, and that failure leads to your injury, they should be made to compensate you for your injuries. That's how justice works. There's no reason why you should have to pay for your injuries when someone else caused them.
Whether a property owner failed to uphold whatever duty they owed to you is a very fact-specific issue. If a homeowner removed a stump and didn't fill in the hole, and then you broke your ankle stepping in it while walking along the side of the street, how many inches the hole was from the curb can be pivotal to you case. Similarly, if you slip on a grape in a grocery store and hurt your back, whether you were in the fruit or the dairy aisle can make a huge difference.
One of the most important facts in a premises liability case will almost always be whether the property owner knew of the condition before you got hurt. If they had actual knowledge of the hazard, or even if they should have known about it, then your odds of success skyrocket. However, getting into someone's mind and showing that they were aware of a dangerous condition is incredibly difficult.
Dreyer & Mazaheri
Dreyer & Mazaheri are personal injury attorneys based in San Antonio. With extensive experience representing people who have suffered injuries through no fault of their own, they have built a track record of success and satisfied clients. Working under the belief that people should always get what they truly deserve, Dreyer & Mazaheri work tirelessly to bring you the justice that you deserve, if you've been the victim of someone else's negligence.
Call their law office at (210) 472-1400 if a dangerous condition has hurt you.