Slip-and-fall in TX? 3 things victims should know about premises liability

Premises liability is a broad area of law that includes slip-and-fall accidents. It is designed to hold property owners accountable for dangerous conditions that result in injuries to others.

Premises liability is a broad area of law that includes slip-and-fall accidents. Premises liability basically refers to the responsibility that property owners owe to those who come onto their land. This responsibility includes that the property be free from certain dangers. A simple example is that of a wet spot within a grocery store that causes a patron to slip and break his or her leg.

Can someone injured on another's property hold the property owner liable for injuries?

If a person is injured due to a dangerous condition on a property owner's land, the victim may be able to hold the property owner liable for the costs associated with the accident. In order to determine liability, the victim will generally need to establish why he or she entered the property, whether or not the accident was foreseeable and the reasonableness of the property owner's efforts to either warn others of the danger or attempt to repair the condition.

Based on the reason for entering the property, the individual will likely be classified as one of three legal statuses: invitee, licensee or trespasser.

What is the difference between these three legal statuses?

The legal status generally determines the level of liability the property owner has to the person on the property. An invitee is fairly straightforward. This is a person who is basically invited onto the property. In most cases, the property owner knows, or should know, this person is on the property.

In contrast, although a licensee has permission to enter the property, the presence on the property is for the benefit of the licensee, not the property owner.

The final legal status, a trespasser, is one that enters without permission.

Generally, a property owner is expected to make sure the property is safe for an invitee. This same expectation is not present with the licensee or the trespasser. However, if the condition which led to the injury posed an unreasonable risk, the property owner could still be held liable for injuries suffered by both the licensee and the trespasser.

What about children?

It is important to note that an injury to a child may fit within an exception to the above mentioned legal statuses. This caveat is based on the fact that children generally do not fully understand the danger of any particular situation. As such, property owners are held to a higher standard if there is the likelihood that children will be on the property.

In some cases, a dangerous condition within a piece of a property may be defined by the law as an "attractive nuisance." This term essentially applies to dangerous conditions that have a high likelihood to draw children. This classification increases the probability that a property owner would be liable for any resulting injuries.

Although the age of the child is not clearly stated within the law, this generally applies to those who are under the age of twelve. Broad examples include swimming pools, machinery, stairs and dangerous animals.