Injured In a Parking Lot? How to Know if You Have a Premises Liability Case
Preventable injuries caused Americans over $1,000 billion in 2017. If you’ve been injured on someone else’s property, your share of those costs can often be more than you can afford.
You might think your injury was just an unfortunate accident However, the property owner has an obligation to make his or her property reasonably safe for people who are on the property with the landowner’s permission.
This is a concept known as premises liability.
If you’ve suffered an injury on someone else’s property in Texas, you might wonder if you should pursue a claim. Read on to find out how to tell if you have a case for premises liability in the State of Texas.
What Is Premises Liability?
A landowner owes a duty to people who are on his or her property. What that duty consists of depends on whether the person is on the property with the landowner’s permission.
A person who is on the property with the landowner’s permission is called an “invitee.” A person who is on the property without the landowner’s permission is called a “trespasser.”
The Landowner’s Duty
As a general rule, when it comes to trespassers, a Texas landowner must avoid intentionally causing injury to someone who is there without permission. For instance, that means the landowner can’t set traps designed to injure trespassers in order to keep them off the land.
In addition, a landowner can’t act with “gross negligence” when it comes to trespassers. That means if a landowner knows that something poses a high risk of injury and simply doesn’t care, a landowner can be liable to a trespasser.
When it comes to invitees, a landowner has to take greater care. Premises liability laws in Texas require landowners to either take an active effort to make invitees safe or, at the very least, warn of concealed hazards.
There are exceptions, though. In some cases, even a warning that would make the hazard obvious to an invitee is not enough to relieve a landowner of his or her duty.
Unreasonable danger of criminal activity can create a higher duty for a landowner. Likewise, if it is necessary for you to use the premises and the landowner should know that you can’t avoid the risk, the landowner can’t just warn of the danger. He or she has to make the property safe.
However, those exceptions are rare. Generally, if you’re an invitee on someone else’s property, the landowner simply has to make the property safe and make you aware of hazards he or she knows about.
If You’re Injured, Do You Have a Claim?
What kind of claim you can assert depends on how you were injured.
There are two kinds of claims you can bring against a landowner when you’re injured on their land. If you’re injured by a condition of the land, that’s a premises liability case. If you’re injured by an ongoing activity on the land, that’s a negligence case.
While both types of cases involve negligence of some sort, the things you have to prove are different.
An example of a negligence injury would be if, for instance, someone accidentally hit you or dropped something on you while you were on the premises. For a standard negligence case, you have to prove:
- The landlord has a duty to you
- The landlord breached his or her duty to you
- The landlord’s failure to abide by his or her duty caused your injury
- You suffered damages from the injury
Damages must be serious to count. That means your injury must be serious enough to interfere with your work or everyday life.
An example of a premises liability case would be if, for instance, you tripped because of a hole in the ground. Premises liability cases require a bit more in terms of proof. To prove premises liability, you have to show:
- The landowner had knowledge of a concealed condition on the premises
- The condition posed an unreasonable risk of harm
- The landowner failed to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the risk
- That failure caused your injuries
Are Claims Hard to Prove?
They can be, and that’s where a good premises liability attorney comes in.
Landowners sometimes claim that they were unaware of the dangerous condition on the property. You have to be able to prove that the landowner either created the condition or knew about it.
Speculation about whether a landowner should have known about the condition isn’t allowed. You have to produce evidence as to how long the condition existed and how the landowner was supposed to have known about it.
Landowners may also claim that you were somehow liable for your own injury. You need to be able to prove that you didn’t do anything that contributed to the harm.
A frequent defense is for a landowner to post signs to keep from having to fix a dangerous condition. If they can prove you knew about the condition, the condition is now obvious to you and any injury becomes your fault.
If you’ve been injured while on another person’s property, you need to know your rights. Whether you have a claim for your injury will depend on the condition that caused your injury, the landowner’s awareness of the condition, and the extent of your injury.
Considering the current state of Texas premises liability law, the process of getting a recovery can be a long and complicated one. You need someone on your side who understands how to prove your claim and how to negotiate a proper settlement. The Benton Law Firm can help you.
For more information about personal injury issues that might affect you, contact us today.