Getting hurt in a slip-and-fall accident can be debilitating. Even in a slip, trip, or fall incident that appears to be relatively minor, it is possible to suffer serious, ongoing injuries such as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord injuries, and broken bones.
If you suffer a debilitating injury in a slip-and-fall accident in South Central Texas, you may be unable to work and struggling to deal with mounting hospital bills and treatment costs. At the Burch Law Firm, we have years of experience assisting Texans who have been hurt due to another party’s careless or harmful behavior, and we work quickly and efficiently to pursue the full compensation our clients deserve.
Right now, you might be asking yourself: Do I have a slip-and-fall claim? This is a common question, and we would like to discuss the elements of slip-and-fall claims in Texas.
Understanding Premises Liability Law and Negligence Theory
Generally speaking, plaintiffs who get hurt in slip-and-fall accidents may be eligible to file a premises liability lawsuit, but they also may be able to bring a personal injury claim under a negligence theory. How a plaintiff files a claim depends upon the specific facts of his or her case. Both fall under the broader category of personal injury law, providing injured plaintiffs with an avenue through which they can seek financial compensation for their losses. Yet premises liability lawsuits and negligence claims also have important distinctions. What is the difference between the two?
Premises liability is an area of the law that deals with a landowner’s duty to people who enter his or her property. A premises liability lawsuit typically is one that revolves around the state of the premises in question (at which the slip-and-fall accident occurred), and the landowner’s maintenance of those premises.
Negligence theory concerns a party’s careless or negligent behavior that results in an injury. A personal injury claim based on a theory of negligence does not revolve so much around the state of the premises upon which the accident occurred, but rather the actions of the negligent or careless party that resulted in the slip-and-fall accident.
In some cases, a slip-and-fall accident might have resulted from another party’s negligence as opposed to a specific condition on the premises. In such a case, a personal injury lawsuit alleging negligence may be appropriate. However, if a slip-and-fall accident resulted from a condition on the premises — such as a cracked floorboard or a puddle of water — then the plaintiff likely will want to consider filing a premises liability lawsuit.
Status of the Person Who Suffered a Slip-and-Fall Injury
Depending upon the facts of your case, you may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit for your slip-and-fall accident, but you also may have a claim under a theory of negligence. In order to understand a bit better whether you have a slip-and-fall claim in South Central Texas, it is important to determine your status when you were on the property where the injury occurred.
In general, slip-and-fall accidents can be very different depending on the legal status of the person who got hurt. Under Texas law, types of parties who enter land include:
- Invitee, a person who is expressly invited onto the premises for the mutual benefit of the property owner and the invitee
- Licensee, a person who is on the property for the convenience or benefit of himself or herself
- Trespasser, a person who is on the property without the permission of the property owner
A property owner owes the greatest duty of care to an invitee when it comes to maintaining the property and preventing the invitee from suffering injuries. The property owner still owes a duty of care to a licensee, but that duty is not as great. Differently, a trespasser upon another person’s property is owed no duty of care.
Did the Property Owner Breach the Duty of Care Owed to the Plaintiff?
In determining whether you have a slip-and-fall claim as a result of a premises liability issue, you will need to determine the duty of care owed by the property owner.
For an invitee, the property owner has the greatest duty of care. Typically, this means that a property owner has a duty to warn an invitee about any condition on the property that the owner knew or should have known about or to repair the conditions in order to make them safe.
When it comes to licensees, however, the property owner simply must warn about a condition that she or he actually knows about that could create an unreasonable risk of harm when the condition is not known to the plaintiff.
However, a recent Texas Supreme Court case, Austin v. Kroger (2015), shifted the duty of care owed to employees (who are considered to be invitees under Texas law). In that case, the court ruled that a property owner does not have to warn an invitee about dangers or repair dangerous conditions on the premises when they are “open and obvious or known to the employee.” This decision favors property owners and limits a property owner’s liability in some cases.
Contact a New Braunfels Slip-and-Fall Lawyer
If you got hurt in a slip-and-fall accident, an experienced New Braunfels personal injury lawyer can assist you. Troy Burch provides one-on-one attention to every client. He has been practicing law for many years, and he cares deeply about the people of South Central Texas.
If you have questions about filing a slip-and-fall lawsuit, we are here to help. Contact the Burch Law Firm for more information and to schedule a free consultation.
Troy Burch has practiced law in New Braunfels since 1990 representing residents of New Braunfels and the surrounding communities. Troy Burch graduated with high honors from Texas Christian University and from Baylor Law School.