Austin premises liability lawyer Daniel B. Ross believes that when you legally enter someone else’s property in Texas, you have a legal right to basic safety. If a property owner fails to maintain a reasonably safe environment – including inspecting for hidden dangers – the courts may hold him or her financially responsible for any damages that occur as a result of property owner negligence.

Premises Liability in Texas

Premises liability laws state that all property owners are liable for injuries and accidents sustained on their property. Common premises liability cases involve slip and fall injuries, defective premises conditions, elevator accidents, swimming pool accidents, dog bites, fires, water leaks, and toxic chemicals.

When property owners are negligent in providing a reasonably safe environment for visitors, customers, hired workers, contractors, and anyone else invited onto their property, premises liability laws make it their responsibility to pay for damages. Injury alone isn’t enough of a factor, however. Property owners must have been negligent in their duties for the courts to hold them responsible.

Determining Your Status on a Property

To have a case against a property owner for negligent conditions, the injured plaintiff and his or her Austin premises liability attorney must prove the owner failed to reasonably maintain the property and that this failure caused an injury. The first step is to determine your legal status on the property on which you sustained the injury. There are three different classes of people who enter a property:

  • Invitee
  • Licensee
  • Trespasser

As an invitee, you’re a typical customer or guest who enters the property with the owner’s consent and does so for the purpose by which the property is made available to the public. Legally, property owners owe an invitee the highest standard of care.

A licensee also enters the property with owner consent, but not by invitation. An example of a licensee is someone entering the property to inspect a gas line or read a meter. While the property owner still holds a duty to provide a safe environment, this duty isn’t held to as high a legal standard as invitees. With licensees, a property owner is only legally obligated to prevent willful or wanton injury due to gross negligence, including warning the licensee of hidden dangers on the property.

A trespasser can’t enter a property and reasonably expect not to sustain an injury. Therefore, a property owner doesn’t have to acknowledge dangerous conditions or take reasonable care to prevent an injury from occurring. However, the property owner can’t intentionally cause the trespasser harm while on the property.

Proving Negligence

The next and most important step is proving the property owner was negligent in his or her legal duties to provide a safe environment for you. Your Austin personal injury lawyer will conduct an investigation of the property, acquiring key witnesses, interviews, and photographs of the allegedly unsafe part of the property. If the case goes to court, the existence of a key witness to vouch for an unsafe property is crucial.

For example, to prove that the sidewalk outside of a storefront is so uneven as to cause someone to trip and fall, your attorney might hire a contractor who installs sidewalks in Texas as your key witness. As an expert, the contractor can discuss why the property owner was negligent for failing to replace the uneven sidewalk.

Seek Legal Assistance from a Skilled Austin Premises Liability Lawyer

Premises liability cases can be complex, especially when property owner negligence is difficult to prove. Other factors, such as if the owner was only partially responsible for an unsafe condition, can throw a wrench in your claim if not handled by a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. When you need reliable legal help in Texas, contact Ross • Scalise Employment Lawyers for your premises liability case.