To successfully recover damages after suffering injuries in a slip and fall accident, the injured party who asserts a slip and fall claim must prove that the business or the property owner negligently maintained the premises. The mere fact that a party becomes injured after slipping and falling on the premises does not conclusively establish that the property owner was negligent or at fault and thereby liable for resulting damages.Additionally, there might be scenarios where multiple parties are responsible for a slip and fall accident. In that instance, the court will assign each party a percentage of the fault, and each of the at-fault parties will be subject to pay their shares of damages.
To prevail on a slip and fall injury claim, injured parties must show the property owner was negligent by proving:
- The defendant owns, leases, or manages the property where the injury occurred, establishing their duty to maintain a safe environment;
- The defendant breached his or her duty by failing to warn visitors of a known hazard or by failing to maintain the premises adequately;
- The property owner’s breach of the duty to keep the property reasonably safe contributed to the slip and fall accident; and
- The slip and fall accident was the direct cause of the resulting injuries and losses.
Also, when considering whether the property owner acted negligently in causing the slip and fall accident, lawyers, insurance adjusters, and courts may ask the following questions:
- How likely would another person suffer a slip and fall injury in the same situation?
- How severe are the injuries?
- Did the landowner know about the hazard that led to the slip and fall accident? Where is the property located?
- How much of a burden would it be for the landowner to fix the dangerous condition or remove it from the property?
- How much control did the landowner have over the situation that led to the slip and fall accident?
Establishing the property owner’s knowledge and control over the dangerous condition on the premises helps prove liability.
Visitors’ Status in San Antonio Slip and Fall Cases
While Texas law requires landowners to keep their properties in a reasonably safe condition for visitors, the specific obligations that a property owner owes to visitors depend on that particular visitor’s status. A visitor’s status will also determine how much he or she can recover monetarily from the property owner for slip and fall accidents. Texas law recognizes three categories of visitors: invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
An invitee is a person who the property owner explicitly invites onto their property for public use or business. A typical example of an invitee is a customer that patronizes a business for the business owner’s benefit, such as a patient who visits a doctor’s office to obtain medical treatment or a customer who dines at a restaurant. People who visit public places, such as parks, beaches, and playgrounds, are also invitees.
Texas law imposes the highest duty of care to invitees. Landowners owe legal obligations to invitees to remove hazardous conditions on the premises or warn invitees of known dangerous conditions that could lead to a slip and fall accident. Failure to fulfill these obligations is a breach of duty owed to the invitees and will, in turn, subject landowners to potential liabilities if slip and fall accidents occur.
A licensee is a visitor who may or may not have explicit or implicit permission to visit another’s property. Invited licensees are primarily family members and other social guests. Other licensees who have implied consent to visit the property include salespeople, postal workers, off-duty employees, and delivery persons. The level of care owed to a licensee depends on their specific purpose for entering the premises and whether the property owner explicitly invited them.
Uninvited licensees generally do not have the same rights under Texas law as those to whom the property owners have extended explicit invites. However, property owners still have a duty to refrain from intentionally harming uninvited licensees, such as creating a hidden hazardous condition that is likely to cause injury to people on the premises.
Trespassers are people who enter another person’s property without explicit or implicit permission from the landowner. Under Texas law, property owners only owe a duty to child trespassers to protect them from injuries. A young child might intentionally or unintentionally trespass on private property. Property owners are liable for child trespassers if the law classifies the dangerous condition on the premises, resulting in injuries to the child, as an attractive nuisance.
An attractive nuisance is a feature on private property that is likely to draw in a young child and cause harm to that child due to its dangerous nature. Texas landowners have a legal obligation to protect child trespassers by eliminating potential “attractive” dangers that can lead to severe injuries or death.
Examples of attractive nuisances that can lead to a child trespassing and experiencing a dangerous slip and fall accident include:
- Swimming pools;
- Backyard trampolines;
- Piles of sand, dirt, and wood at construction sites;
- Bulldozers, tractors, and other heavy equipment;
- Piles of furniture, old appliances, and old cars;
- Ponds, lakes, fountains, and other water features; and
- Outdoor play equipment, such as tree houses and swing sets.
Property owners are not liable for slip and fall injuries suffered by adult trespassers. However, as with licensees, landowners must not intentionally cause injury to adult trespassers.
Consequences of San Antonio Slip and Fall Accidents
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that unintentional falls are the top cause of emergency room visits across the nation. Each year, almost nine million people visit an emergency room seeking treatment for an injury caused by a fall accident. Fall injuries cause hospitalizations for more than 1.2 million individuals per year. Adults over the age of 65 are especially vulnerable to injuries from slip and fall accidents.
While some slip and fall accidents are harmless, meaning those involved in the accident do not suffer any actionable injuries, others cause substantial injuries that have long-lasting negative impacts on a victim’s life.
Some of the most common injuries that can result from slip and fall accidents include:
- Sprains and broken bones: Slip and fall victims can twist their ankles or knees and damage the connective ligaments at those joints. When an individual slips and falls, the landing impact can cause broken bones in the forearm, leg, ankle, spine, and pelvis. These injuries often require hospitalization and surgery.
- Back and spinal cord injuries: A victim in a slip and fall accident can fracture his or her vertebrae, which leads to pain and limited mobility. When the victim injures his or her spinal cord, the resulting damage can lead to temporary or even permanent paralysis.
- Head injuries: Slip and fall accidents commonly lead to head injuries. Head injuries may result in concussions, severe seizures, cognitive impairment, and other detrimental side effects.
- Hip fractures: According to the CDC, slip and fall accidents cause more than 95 percent of broken hips. Hip fractures often require extensive medical care, surgery, and hospitalization.
- Shoulder dislocation: Slip and fall accidents can result in shoulder dislocations, which cause severe pain and often lead to surgery followed by physical therapy.
- Wrongful death: While less common, a slip and fall accident may result in a victim’s death. Certain family members may seek damages through a wrongful death claim.
Aside from physical injuries, slip and fall victims may suffer from lost wages if they miss work to seek medical attention or recover. The combination of physical injury and lost wages can also lead to emotional distress due to the pain, lengthy recovery period, and expensive medical bills.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Receive for My San Antonio Slip and Fall Claim?
If an injured victim seeks to file a slip and fall claim against the at-fault party, generally, the statute of limitations or time to file such an action in Texas is two years.
When a victim successfully establishes his or her slip and fall injury case, some commonly recovered damages include:
- Medical expenses, including ambulance transportation, emergency room visits, hospital stays, diagnostic testing, surgery, rehabilitation, and prescription medication;
- Estimated future medical treatment costs when a slip and fall accident causes a severe injury or permanent limitations requiring ongoing treatment and care;
- Rehabilitation expenses for receiving treatment from physical therapists, occupational therapists, mental health specialists, and other professionals who help slip and fall accident victims physically and emotionally recover from their injuries;
- Expenses for assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, and canes;
- Lost wages from missing work due to slip and fall accident injuries, hospitalization, and recovery;
- Estimated future lost wages when a slip and fall accident causes a permanent injury that impacts an accident victim’s ability to work;
- Physical pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of quality of life;
- Loss of consortium; and
- Exemplary damages when the property owner intentionally caused a slip and fall accident.
Call Our San Antonio Slip and Fall Injury Lawyers Today
If you are the victim of a slip and fall accident, get in touch with a trustworthy San Antonio slip and fall accident attorney. Patino Injury and Accident Attorneys build solid cases for San Antonio slip and fall victims like you so you can receive the compensation you deserve.
We can assess your slip and fall incident and objectively help you decide whether you have a viable claim against the other party to save you time, money, and emotional stress. Once we start your case, if efforts to settle do not lead to fruition, litigation is usually the next step. Litigation involves complicated legal procedures and a plethora of paperwork. We can gather important evidence and work on your case to efficiently resolve the matter and help you recover.
Contact one of our attorneys today at 210-646-9100 or write to us using our online contact page to ensure fair and equitable treatment throughout your legal ordeal.