When you think about a premises liability claim, you might think of a slip and fall at someone's place of business. Though that is certainly an example, this type of claim can also include dog bites, an accident at a hotel, injury in a parking lot or being hurt at a construction site. All these different instances may make it difficult for you to determine anyone's responsibility when hurt on someone else's property.
If you're unfortunate enough to suffer injuries as the result of someone else's negligence regarding their property, you'll want to act swiftly on your own behalf. You'll need to ensure that your claim is in accordance with any ordinances, whether they are local or for the state of Texas as a whole. If you're not sure who might be at fault, an experienced attorney will have some advice on how to determine that.
Were you on the property legally?
In most cases, there are specific categories for visitors to property that can help determine validity of a liability claim. The first three kinds all have the owner's permission to be on the property. The first is an invitee, which is just as it sounds -- the property owner invited the person onto the property, like when a customer enters a business. A social guest is similar -- the property owner invited the person to be present.
The third is a licensee, who comes onto the property for his or her own purpose. The last kind is a trespasser, who is not on the property at the owner's invitation. In the case of the licensee and the trespasser, the presumption of safety that would normally apply to an invitee or a social guest is not guaranteed. It would be difficult to bring a premises liability claim for those two categories.
Was the property poorly maintained?
A property owner has a responsibility to keep the property safe. If he or she fails to do so, and someone is injured, only a trespasser would have difficulty making a legal claim. In all cases, the law considers other parameters as well. Was the person using the property properly? Did the owner have proper warning for any hazards? Could the accident have reasonably been prevented? Why was the injured person on the property to begin with?
Who exactly was on the property?
In regards to trespassers, if there is any reason that a trespasser would be likely to enter a property, the owner still has some responsibility. He or she must make every reasonable effort to warn of potential danger to anyone who might be on the property. Children are another matter. Even when kids have no authorization to be on a certain property, it is still up to the property owner to give warning if the possibility exists that they could be there.
Do both parties share some blame?
Even if a property owner failed to maintain his or her property to a reasonable standard of safety, there are times when the injured person may share some of the fault. The injured person must take reasonable responsibility for his or her own safety. Sometimes courts will assign fault based on a percentage. For example, the injured person may be 10% at fault while the property owner is 90% at fault. This can influence how the court awards monetary damages in civil litigation.
No matter how you or a loved one received an injury on another person's property, the effects can be significant and long lasting. It is imperative that you are aware of all of your legal rights regarding a premises liability claim.