McAllen Product Liability Attorneys
Injuries caused by dangerous or defective products can result in substantial damages for victims, from permanent physical disfigurement to the loss of earning power. However, you do not have to face these burdens alone. The individual or company at fault for the unsafe item may be obligated to cover your medical bills, lost wages, ongoing rehabilitation needs, and more. Contact our McAllen Product Liability Injury Lawyers today to discuss your recovery options.
Many residents of the Rio Grande Valley, including McAllen, enjoy celebrating pachangas, festive family gatherings. Families often host pachangas at their homes or rent out commercial establishments. While these gatherings spark joy and bring loved ones together, injuries may occur. When someone sustains an injury on another individual’s or company’s property, premises liability law comes into play.
All commercial, residential, and public properties in McAllen and the rest of the Rio Grande Valley have one thing in common: Their owners or managers are required to protect their visitors by mitigating known property hazards. Because of this requirement, if you have been injured on a commercial, residential, or public property due to a hazard that the owner or manager should have known about, you may qualify to pursue compensation to help ease the burden of the expenses and impact that the injury has caused to your life.
Read on for more information about premises liability and the legal process of obtaining compensation. To discuss the specifics of your matter, call Patino Law Firm for a consultation today.
Types of Premises Liability
Premises liability covers a wide umbrella of accidents that could occur due to unsafe property features.
Some of the most common forms of premises liability include:
- Slip and fall accidents: Slip and fall or trip and fall accidents are the most common type of premises liability claim. This type of accident may occur when a visitor trips or slips as a result of a hazardous feature such as wet or slippery flooring, loose floorboards, electrical cords or open cabinets or drawers in walkways, improperly designed or maintained staircases, missing or broken handrails, poor lighting (particularly in stairwells), cracked pavement, or potholes in parking lots.
- Swimming pool accidents: Swimming pools are related to many injuries and deaths. Pools at private residences, schools, commercial locations such as gyms or hotels, apartment complexes, and those that are publicly owned are all subject to premises liability requirements. Some of these hazards may include drowning in a location without a lifeguard or signage to warn swimmers that they assume all risk when using the pool. Other hazards could include drowning as a result of a failure to properly enclose the space to keep small children and trespassers out. Hazardous conditions could include cracked, uneven, or slippery surfaces around the pool, malfunctioning pool parts (such as drains or filters), or the presence of unsafe bacteria in the water as a result of poor maintenance. All of these have the potential to cause injury
- Negligent security: Those who own property in unsafe neighborhoods are generally required to provide reasonable security measures for visitors. This could include armed or unarmed security guards, the use of security cameras, the provision of locks on apartments or hotel rooms, extensive background checks on employees, and other measures that are put in place to protect visitors from known security hazards.
- Elevator/escalator accidents: Elevators and escalators have a lot of parts that could malfunction, requiring regular maintenance to prevent visitors from getting hurt. Some of the common ways that individuals are injured in elevators or escalators include elevators that jerk violently or fall from height while in use, elevator doors closing on body parts, and the entanglement of fingers, clothing, or other objects in escalator belts.
- Amusement park accidents: More than 30,000 injuries are caused each year as a result of amusement park rides. While the owners of these parks (and owners of companies who provide rides to carnivals and fairs) generally have the responsibility to ensure that the rides are safe for visitors, accidents still occur due to potential malfunctions may involve the ride itself or the restraint system that is designed to hold the person in his or her seat. Individuals on the rides or in the area around the rides may get hit by flying debris.
- Dog bites: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. each year, and insurance providers who offer homeowners policies payout around $797 million each year for dog bite liability. While Texas does not have a civil law that specifically addresses dog bites, case law reveals that the state tends to follow the “one bite rule.” This means that a homeowner may be held liable if his or her dog bites someone while the homeowner knew that the dog had acted aggressively or had bitten someone in the past, and the homeowner negligently failed to use reasonable care to control the dog and prevent it from biting anyone else.
- Fires: While fires that cause injury or death are generally unintentional and come at the surprise of the property owner, he or she may be held liable if it is proven that he or she knew or should have reasonably known about the faulty wiring or defective appliances that lead to the fire, but failed to repair or replace them—or warn the guests of the hazard.
Types of Guests
The first element in proving liability is to establish that the at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care that property owners in Texas owe to their visitors depends on the category of that visitor.
There are essentially three types of visitors in premises liability cases, including:
- Licensees: Licensees are social guests who are on the property by consent of the owner for their own benefit. Property owners are required to warn this type of visitor of hazards that the property owner knows about. This warning can come both as a verbal warning or a prominently displayed sign. The property owner also has the duty to repair dangerous property features as soon as possible.
- Invitees: Invitees are guests who are on the property both with the knowledge and consent of the owner, and with a mutual benefit for the owner or the visitor. Examples of this type of visitor include customers in retail business establishments or restaurants. With this type of visitor, the duty that the property owner owes is to either warn of hazards or make the property safe from conditions that the owner knows about or reasonably should have known about.
- Trespassers: A trespasser is a visitor that enters a property without authority or permission from the owner. This type of visitor is afforded the lowest duty of care, which is that the property owner does not attempt to deliberately injure the trespasser by setting a trap or other hazardous feature.
A special duty of care is owed by Texas property owners to children who trespass, known as the attractive nuisance doctrine. This part of state premises liability laws acknowledges the fact that children are typically too immature to appreciate the dangers posed by manmade conditions, and requires property owners to safeguard children who may be lured onto their property by an unsafe property condition (such as an open swimming pool, old appliances, or old vehicles located on the property).
Defenses to Premises Liability Claims
The way that the vast majority of McAllen premises liability settlements or awards for premises liability cases are paid is through the property insurance policy held by the owner of the property. The Insurance companies may offer a lot of defenses to these claims to avoid paying for the injuries incurred by their insured client’s negligence.
Some of the most common defenses to premises liability claims include:
- The accident was caused by the victim’s failure to practice due care. Here, due care is used to describe the responsibility that each individual has to keep themselves safe and aware of their surroundings. The insurance company might suggest that you failed to wear appropriate shoes for the property’s terrain, or were distracted by a cell phone and failed to watch where you were walking.
- Assumption of risk. This defense states that the claimant knew of the risk of the activity and chose to participate in it anyway. For instance, this type of defense might be proven in a swimming pool accident where there was a clearly posted sign stating that there is no lifeguard on duty and that those who use the pool are doing so at their own risk. Another example of how this defense may be proven would be a case involving a trampoline park in which the users were required to sign a waiver relieving the business of liability for injuries that are often known to occur from this type of activity.
- The “open and obvious” defense. This defense states that the property hazard was out in the open and was so obvious that the claimant knew or reasonably should have known it existed.
If the defense raises these counterclaims—or better yet, before they have a chance to—call us. We’ve heard them all before, and recognize when insurance companies are bluffing to try to reduce the payment that you deserve.
If You Were Injured on an Unsafe Property…
Texas provides a process for collecting compensation from a liable property owner through a premises liability lawsuit.
To obtain this compensation, you must prove:
- There was a dangerous condition on the property.
- The property owner knew, or reasonably should have known through regular inspection of the property, that the dangerous condition existed.
- The property owner failed to repair the dangerous condition or to properly warn guests that it existed.
- The claimant was injured as a result of this dangerous condition, and faced expenses and impacts on their life as a result of that injury.
The damages that one may claim in a premises liability accident in McAllen include:
- Medical expenses, such as emergency medical treatment at the scene or in the emergency department, transport to the hospital via ambulance or air, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, physician or surgical services, prescription medication, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
- Lost wages due to being too injured to work or missing work to attend an injury-related medical appointment.
- Loss of future earning capacity, if the injury sustained in the premises liability accident results in a permanent disability that renders the claimant unable to return to work.
- Non-economic (life impact) damages such as physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of the enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and more.
Due to the complexity of these cases, you should hire an attorney with experience in premises liability cases. A McAllen premises liability attorney could provide you with:
- Guidance about your legal options.
- A determination of all liable parties in your case and all insurance resources that can be used to compensate you.
- A valuation of your case based on a full picture of the expenses you have incurred and the impacts you have endured.
- The timely filing of court-required paperwork in the proper jurisdiction.
- Assistance in gathering evidence and witness testimony to help prove your claim.
- A network of experts, including medical professionals and accident reconstructionist specialists, who may help strengthen your case.
- Negotiation with the property owner’s insurance company in an attempt to obtain a fair settlement on your behalf.
- Attendance at all pre-trial conferences and hearings.
- In lieu of a fair settlement offer, litigation of your case in court including the preparation and delivery of opening and closing arguments, the presentation of evidence, and the examination of witnesses.
- Assistance in collecting your settlement or award.
- Further representation if the defendant in your case files an appeal.