Injuries can occur in many different accidents in Texas, including due to a dangerous premises. A premises liability claim aims to hold the owner or controller of a property responsible for a defect or hazard that causes a visitor an injury. You may have grounds to file this type of claim if you were injured at a hotel, grocery store, school, shopping center or friend’s house in Texas because of the property owner’s negligence.
What Is a Premises Liability Claim?
Premises liability is a legal doctrine that states that the owner or controller of a piece of land or property is legally responsible for the safety of visitors who enter the property. If a property owner breaches or fails to fulfill this responsibility and a visitor is injured as a result, the victim can sue for damages or financial compensation. The type of claim the victim will file is known as a premises liability lawsuit.
What Are the Elements of a Premises Liability Claim?
All property owners in Texas have a legal obligation to take certain measures to ensure that their properties are safe for visitors. If the visitor is lawfully on public or private property, the owner owes him or her specific duties of care. These duties are adjusted according to the classification of the visitor as an invitee, licensee or trespasser:
- Invitee – someone who enters a piece of land with the owner’s permission for the mutual benefit of both parties, such as a business patron. Invitees are owed the highest duties of care: to inspect a property for hazards, make any dangerous conditions safe and warn visitors about potential injury risks.
- Licensee – someone with permission to enter a property, but who does so for his or her own benefit. An example is a social guest or salesperson. Property owners have a duty to warn licensees of any potential injury risks and repair known defects, but they do not have to inspect their properties for hidden or unknown hazards.
- Trespasser – someone who does not have the property owner’s permission or consent to enter the property but does so anyway. Trespassers in Texas are not owed any duties of care by property owners. However, a landowner cannot willfully, wantonly or through gross negligence cause a trespasser an injury.
If it can be proven that the property owner owed the accident victim a duty of care, breached or violated this duty of care through an act of negligence, and that this breach of duty caused the victim’s injury, the landowner can be held liable for the premises liability accident. If the property owner should have remedied a defect sooner to prevent a foreseeable accident, for example, the owner can be held financially responsible.
Common Types of Premises Liability Claims in Texas
Negligent property use or maintenance in Texas can result in many different injury hazards. It is the property owner’s legal obligation to identify, prevent and repair these hazards before someone gets hurt. Common examples include:
- Slip and fall hazards
- Dangerous staircases
- Uneven surfaces
- Attractive nuisances
- Uncovered swimming pools
- Negligent security
- Dangerous dogs
- Hazardous substances
Any of these issues could give a victim grounds to file a premises liability claim in Texas if they cause injuries or deaths and if a reasonable and prudent landowner would have remedied the hazard sooner.
How Long Do You Have to File a Premises Liability Claim in Texas?
In Texas, a law called the statute of limitations gives plaintiffs a certain amount of time to file a premises liability claim. Filing after the statute of limitations has expired will generally result in the claim being dismissed by the courts. The statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident, in most cases. If the accident involves an injured minor or other special circumstances, however, this could extend the filing deadline. Contact a premises liability lawyer as soon as possible if you believe you have grounds for this type of lawsuit.