Patrick R. Kelly enjoys serving as an attorney for clients who were injured while on another individual or company’s property in the Dallas area. An experienced lawyer like Mr. Kelly can evaluate each claim and potential defendant and determine whether a viable claim exists to recover compensation. These type of claims are commonly referred to in the legal community as “premises liability” claims. They can be in form of a “trip and fall” or “slip and fall” injury. In some cases, victims are injured due to a dangerous or defective condition on the property.
Regardless of the type of claim, the Texas Supreme Court has established basic elements that an injured person must prove to hold a property owner liable. Those elements are:
- The owner/operator had actual or constructive knowledge of some condition on the property;
- The condition posed an unreasonable risk or danger;
- The owner/operator didn’t exercise reasonable care to reduce or prevent the risk of harm; and
- The owner/operator’s failure to use such care proximately caused the injured person’s injuries.
Proving negligence against and holding a premises owner liable for injuries is heavily affected by the reason or purpose the injured person was present on the property. Texas law recognizes three types of categories of people: an invitee, licensee, or trespasser.
Invitee – This is a person on the property at the express or implied invitation of the property owner and who has entered the property as a member of the public for a purpose for which the premises are held open to the public or for a purpose connected with the business of the property owner that does or may result in their mutual benefit. The most common example of an invitee is a shopper who is present at a store or business such as a grocery store, gas station, convenient store, shopping mall, etc.
The standard of care owed to an invitee is the duty to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises in reasonably safe condition or to warn such persons of any dangerous condition that the property owner knew about or should have known about that were not reasonably apparent to the invitee. This is the highest standard of care a property owner owes to an individual. A premises liability lawyer can evaluate your case to determine if a property owner breached this duty.
Licensee – The Texas Supreme Court recognizes a licensee as someone on the premises with the permission of the property owner but without the express or implied invitation. A licensee is enters a property with the permission of the property owner but not for the reason of a business interest the property owner may have to induce or entice the person to enter the property.
The owner or occupier of property owes a licensee only the duty not to injure the person by willful or wanton conduct or by gross negligence. This is a much higher burden to prove that for an invitee. Therefore, it is crucial for a premises liability owner to thoroughly study a claim to determine if such a burden of proof can be met or if it can be shown that the injured person was actually an invitee.
Trespasser – This is person who is on the property of another without any right, lawful authority, or express or implied invitation or permission.
The legal duty owed to an adult trespasser by a premises owner is the duty to not intentionally or willfully injure him or her. Texas law does differentiate between adult trespassers and children. That is, land owners can be held liable for injury or death caused to a child who is trespassing in some situations such when an “attractive nuisance” (such as rock quarry or other place or thing where children are known to play) is present.
A lawyer familiar with Texas premises liability laws such as Patrick R. Kelly can determine the best way to proceed in such a case. If you seek an attorney to represent you or a loved one for injuries sustained because of a negligent property owner, contact our law office now!