Your Safety On Others’ Property: Understanding Premises Liability

Imagine that you are invited to a friend’s house for dinner. As you get up to get a refill on your drink, you trip on a loose board and fall down the steps. Your injuries are significant and you are unable to pay for your medical bills and other expenses.In these cases, a premises liability lawsuit can help you be made whole again. A premises liability lawsuit holds a property owner accountable for damages caused by an injury while on the owner’s property.

If you were injured on someone else’s property, it can be confusing to know who is responsible for your injuries. Are you responsible? Or is the owner? A third party, perhaps? What kind of damages can you recover and in what amounts? For the answers to these questions and more, read our complete overview of premises liability lawsuits here. If you still have questions or would like to get started on your case, contact the experienced premises liability lawyers at the Law Offices of Colby Lewis today. 

Duty Of Care

The extent to which a property owner is liable for injuries on their property deals in part with the level of their duty of care. In Texas, premises owners have the duty to make a reasonable effort to maintain a safe environment for other people who may be on the property. In some cases, the premises owner may have the duty to warn individuals who come onto their property; in other cases, the premises owner may have no duty at all. 

The degree to which a premises owner owes you a duty of care depends on your classification while on their property: trespasser, licensee or invitee.

Trespasser

A trespasser is someone who is on another’s property without express or implied permission. Premises owners owe the least amount of responsibility to trespassers. If the premises owner knew, or had reason to believe, that trespassers would enter their property, they only have a duty to warn of artificial conditions that the owner has created or maintains which they know may cause injury or death. This means that naturally occuring conditions and hazards are encountered at the trespasser’s own risk – a owner will not be held liable for injuries or death in this circumstance.

 

The rules for trespassers change when the trespasser is a child. In these cases, an owner must warn potential child trespassers if they know or should know that children are likely to be on the premises and if there is a dangerous condition on the premises that could cause injury or death. This is a much stricter standard than the one for adult trespassers. Known as the attractive nuisance doctrine, commonly these conditions involve a swimming pool. 

Licensee

A licensee, on the other hand, is present on the property with the owner’s consent, for their own purposes or as a guest. When a licensee is hurt or injured, the property owner may be held liable. While they don’t have a duty to inspect their property before the licensee enters it, they do have a duty to know of hazards and take steps to correct them. They also have a duty to warn licensees of any potential hazards that they are aware of. 

Invitee

Still another classification of visitor is invitee. An invitee is someone who has the express or implied permission of the owner to enter the circumstances. This category of visitor has the highest degree of duty owed by the owner: they must warn invitees of dangers as well as a duty of reasonable care to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition. Failure to do either can expose the owner to liability for the invitee’s injuries or death. 

Statute of Limitations

Sometimes, the time that has passed from the accident is so long that the injured party can no longer bring a lawsuit. Known as the statute of limitations, this law restricts claims from being brought after a certain amount of time passes. In Texas as in other states, this time limit is two years from the date of the accident. Filing your claim quickly is crucial as, if the statute of limitation tolls, you will be forever barred from bringing a cause of action. 

Damages

If you have been injured on someone else’s property, your damages may extend beyond bodily injury to include an array of other damages. The types of damages you may be able to recover from a liable owner include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages, if the defendant’s actions were intentional or grossly negligent
  • Other damages

The amount of damages you may be entitled to varies depending on the unique circumstances of your case. Our qualified legal team can give you a full case assessment when you contact our offices. 

Injuries can happen anywhere. But when they happen on someone else’s property, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Whether you are a trespasser, invitee or licensee, you may have legal options. An experienced legal team can advise you of your options and help you recover damages from the liable party. 

Tips to Stay Safe on Another’s Property

To stay safe on another’s property, you must exercise extreme caution. By assuming that hazards are present, you can best be on your guard and avoid an accident. You may want to ask the property owner if there are any hazards that you should be aware of and what steps you can take to stay safe during your visit. 

If you are injured while on someone else’s property, it’s important to take action quickly. 

First, obtain medical help as soon as possible. Once you have been treated for your injuries, take steps to gather evidence: this can include taking photos of the scene and talking to witnesses. By contacting a knowledgeable premises liability attorney, you can preserve your right to bring a claim and maximize your chances of success. Your attorney can guide you throughout the claims process and can even file a lawsuit for you in civil court if necessary. 

Protect Your Assets From Premises Liability With Colby Lewis

Getting compensated for your injuries requires several showings: one of foreseeability, one of reasonableness, one of your status, and one of the extent of your damages. Answering these questions can be complicated and often requires the expertise of a seasoned premises liability lawyer. At the Law Offices of Colby Lewis, we understand that injuries can have a devastating impact on your health and your finances. That’s why we fight hard every day for victims just like you to get compensation from property owners for their injuries. If you think you have a case against a property owner but aren’t sure what to do next, we can help! Contact our offices for a full case evaluation as soon as you are able – remember that you have a limited amount of time to file a case.