Knowledgeable Plano Premises Liability Attorney Advocates for Injured Visitors
Professional representation for slip and fall accidents in the DFW area
When is a landlord responsible for harm to someone who visits his or her property? Slip and fall accidents, dog bites, injuries from falling merchandise, and other injury events raise the question of a landlord’s liability. These cases tend to be very fact specific, with the timeline for the events and the parties’ relative knowledge being crucial factors. That’s why it’s critically important to retain an attorney who is willing to give your case personalized attention. At the Law Offices of Kevan I. Benkowitz, we immerse ourselves in the facts of your case to provide the highest level of representation possible.
Understanding Texas premises liability law
Generally, a landlord has a duty to protect visitors from hazards that are not open and obvious by warning visitors or removing the hazard. Hazardous conditions include:
- Dark passages and stairwells
- Debris in hallways
- Loose tiles
- Loose railings
- Uneven pavement
- Wet surfaces
Because hazardous conditions can appear without the landlord doing anything to create them, liability often depends on the reasonableness of the landlord’s behavior:
- Did the landlord exercise reasonable care to inspect the property?
- Was the landlord reasonable in his response to conditions he discovered?
- Was there a reasonable process in place to correct dangerous conditions that visitors to the property might create in the normal course of business?
An important element in any premises liability case is the timeline:
- When did the condition occur?
- When did the landlord learn of the condition?
- When was the visitor injured?
The tighter the timeline, the better for the landlord. The more drawn out the timeline, the more the landlord will appear unreasonable.
Landlords are rarely responsible for the actions of third parties who harm visitors on their property. But a notable exception is when poor security creates the opportunity for crime, and a visitor is attacked as a result. For example, a landlord who does not maintain the lighting or security cameras in a parking facility in a crime-ridden area can be held liable for personal injuries when a patron is mugged.
Your rights depend on your lawful presence
Your premises liability claim is based on your right to be on the property where you were hurt. Traditionally, the law has recognized different levels of protection based on the visitor’s relationship to the landlord:
- Invitees — Persons who enter upon the property with the owner’s knowledge and permission for the parties’ mutual benefit enjoy the highest level of protection. Examples include customers at a restaurant and shoppers at a supermarket. The landlord has a duty to use reasonable care to protect these guests from known hazards and from hidden hazards that should have been discovered with an exercise of reasonable care.
- Licensees — These visitors enter the property with permission but for their own benefit or to do business with a third party. Landowners have a duty to refrain from injuring a licensee willfully, wantonly, or through gross negligence. Landlords must also warn of known hazards or make them safe. Licensees include invited guests to a dinner at a private home or a salesperson.
- Trespassers — An intruder who enters the landlord’s property without permission or authority has very little legal protection. The landlord’s only duty is to refrain from doing deliberate harm to a trespasser.
- Child trespassers — If the landlord has an artificial condition on the land, such as an old car, which might operate as an attractive nuisance, the landlord could be liable for injuries to children lured onto the grounds to explore.
In practice, however, courts rarely make a distinction between invitees and licensees.
For a free consultation on your premises liability claim, contact our Plano law firm
You can trust the Law Offices of Kevan I. Benkowitz to deliver highly professional representation for your premises liability claim. We offer free consultations for new clients. Call us at 972-464-2645 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.