McAllen Premises Liability Attorneys
Ppremises liability refers to a legal theory that potentially holds a property owner responsible when conditions on their property cause an injury or damage to another person’s body or property. Texas law requires property owners to keep their premises reasonably safe for visitors.
If an escalator at La Plaza Mall malfunctions, changing speed or direction without warning due to improper maintenance or defective parts, you can fall or get trampled or crushed, causing broken bones, head injuries, disfigurement, and permanent disabilities.
If you’re eating out in McAllen and you slip and fall on your way to the restroom due to a spill or even ground, you might break a hip or hit your head. In both instances, the property owners owed you a duty of care, and their failure to maintain safe premises resulted in injury to yourself, possibly entitling you to compensation.
Mcallen Premises liability cases usually arise due to the following hazards:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Injuries around swimming pools
- Injuries at construction sites
- Animal attacks
- Inadequate security
Specifically related to swimming pool accidents, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released data showing that Texas had the highest rate of child drownings in pools or spas in 2019.
An injured party’s level of liability imposed on a property owner depends on the injured party’s status when they were on the owner’s property. The injured party can be an invitee, licensee, or a trespasser, each of which can affect the property owner’s liability.
Premises liability laws are complicated, but at Patino Injury and Accident Attorneys, we can properly assess your case, apply the appropriate legal standards, and help you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us now to determine if you have a claim.
An invitee is invited or allowed onto a person or entity’s property by the owner or with the owner’s knowledge for a fundamental or financial benefit. For example, when you go to a movie theater, your movie ticket establishes your status as an invitee onto the business’ premises. Other invitees might include grocery store employees or someone entering a bank to make a deposit. In such instances, the property owner owes a duty to the public to maintain reasonably safe premises.
The law varies by state, but most state laws, including Texas, require property owners to extend the following duties to invitees:
The duty to repair and correct known (i.e., actual knowledge) hazards and to reasonably inspect the premises to discover and correct potential (i.e., constructive knowledge) hazards
If the defendant could have discovered the conditions by conducting a reasonable inspection, they have constructive knowledge. For example, if a grocery store leaves a spill unattended for one hour and a shopper slips and falls, one can argue that the grocery store had constructive knowledge of the spill because it was easily discoverable if an employee regularly scanned the aisles for safety purposes.
The duty to ensure conditions do not impose an unreasonable risk of harm
Unreasonable risk of harm exists where “there is a sufficient probability of a harmful event occurring that a reasonably prudent person would have foreseen it or some similar event as likely to happen.”
The duty to warn or make conditions safe for all invitees
For example, if a bakery puts up a bright, yellow “Caution—Wet Floor” sign near a coffee spill, the bakery met this duty of care to its invitees.
A licensee is someone a property owner invites onto their property despite not being open to the general public. If you invite your friend to your house for a social gathering, your friend is a licensee. A licensee can also be a “bare licensee,” meaning they enter the property not by direct invitation but without objection. Examples of bare licensees are door-to-door salespeople and mail delivery people who drop-off packages at your door. Property owners owe a lower level of care to licensees, especially bare licensees, than to invitees.
Licensees assume care for ordinary risks incident to the premises’ current condition. In other words, property owners only have to take reasonable care to protect licensees from extraordinary risks, hidden perils, and reckless misconduct from which the licensee cannot protect themselves.
With licensees, a reasonable care standard for the safety of visitors applies.
Determining the standard of reasonableness owed by the property owner to the licensee depends on an examination of factors, including:
- The circumstances or conditions of the property upon arrival
- Use or purposes of the property
- Knowledge or likelihood of (i.e., foreseeability) the accident or injury happening
- Reasonableness of property owner’s actions to rectify the hazard or warn visitors that it exists
Unlike the duty allotted to invitees, though, property owners do not have a duty to inspect the premises and eradicate ordinary hazards. Property owners must have a reasonable knowledge of the danger likely to cause injury.
An injured party can demonstrate a property owner’s knowledge in the following ways:
- Proof that the property owner saw the condition with his or her own eyes
- Proof of prior incidents concerning the same unsafe condition
- Proof that the property owner attempted to remedy the unsafe condition but failed to do so completely
A trespasser enters a property owner’s property without explicit, implicit, or legal permission to do so. Property owners’ duty of care is much lower for trespassers. Landowners are not legally responsible to protect people who enter their property without permission because they don’t expect anyone to need protection. However, property owners also cannot willfully injure trespassers.
Additionally, if a property owner is aware of a propensity for trespassers, they cannot intentionally cause injury to the non-visitors by way of unsafe conditions or gross negligence. The law defines gross negligence as an act or failure to act that constitutes a high degree of indifference to risk or human safety.
Trespassers might recover compensation for their injuries if:
- The owner created or maintained an unsafe condition.
- The condition was one that was likely to cause serious injury or death.
- The owner was aware the condition was undiscoverable by trespassers before being injured by it.
- The owner did not use reasonable care to warn trespassers of the existing risk or condition.
Different rules, standards, and levels of care apply to child trespassers. An attractive nuisance is an artificial condition (for example, a swimming pool) on a property owner’s land that they know or should know is likely to attract a wandering child. The property owner can be liable for the child’s resulting injuries if the claimant can show that a reasonable person could assume a child is likely to be lured to the dangerous condition.
Type of Premises Liability Claims in McAllen
Common types of situations that may give rise to premises liability claims include:
When bites happen on the owner’s property, where the animal resides, the owner might still be liable for resulting injuries. Texas is the second-highest state for the number of dog attacks against postal workers, totaling 491 in one recent year. Of these nearly 500 attacks, just over a quarter of them (127) happened in the Rio Grande Valley District.
Texas adheres to a one bite rule. This rule holds an animal owner harmless the first time their animal bites another person. The legal theory behind the rule is that an owner who has no record or reason to believe their animal has dangerous tendencies should not have to take extraordinary safety precautions to protect others from their pet. However, after the animal bites a person, the owner is noticed as to their pet’s potentially dangerous behavior and can no longer claim immunity for future bites.
This standard applies even if the animal bites or injures a trespasser. However, in that instance, signs warning of a dangerous pet can defend the owner.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents comprise a broad range of claims and legal theories used to establish fault. For example, a social guest visiting a friend’s home as a licensee may slip and fall on a sheet of ice when approaching the friend’s door. In this case, premises liability standards related to licensees would apply to determine fault. Contrarily, if a business guest falls down a flight of stairs at a two-story bar, laws governing invitees apply to determine fault.
Other examples include falls at nursing homes or potential homebuyers tripping on torn carpets. In each of these situations, whether the injured party is an invitee, licensee, or trespasser will likely determine the property owner’s liability.
Elevator and Escalator Accidents
Numerous laws regulate the routine inspection and maintenance of elevators. When an elevator accident occurs, the property owner can be liable for injuries sustained. Injured parties can potentially sue the property owner, inspectors, and even manufacturers in a resulting premises liability lawsuit to recover compensation for their injuries.
People who ride escalators do so as invitees of the establishment, such as a shopping mall, department store, stadium, or airport. Though escalators are practical, they can also be dangerous. Large gaps between the side skirt, the steps, and the landing platform cause many injuries each year.
If an escalator’s design or maintenance is poor, a person’s clothes, shoes, or jewelry can get caught, leading to severe injuries. Injured parties can potentially hold the property owner, manufacturer, escalator servicing or maintenance company, and inspectors liable for their injuries.
Fire, Safety, and Building Code Violations
Fires can cause serious and fatal injuries. A premises liability lawyer can help you interpret fire code laws to determine possible violations and liability.
Lead paint and mercury poisoning, and other toxic housing or building materials can also cause severe injuries and death. Often, structures built in the 1970s contain asbestos. If the property owner fails to properly evaluate and inspect the property to ensure harmful substances are not present, an injured party can potentially hold them liable for resulting injuries.
Ceiling, Stair, or Porch Collapses
Ceiling, stair, or porch collapses can cause serious and even deadly injuries. You might be a worker (e.g., painter, construction worker, etc.), a visitor, or even a trespasser on the premises when the collapse happens. Regardless, the property owner can be liable for your injuries, especially if found to be negligent.