Whether dining at one of the restaurants along the River Walk, riding a roller coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, or shopping at one of the local shopping malls, San Antonio offers a wide array of options for visitors and residents alike. Unfortunately, some businesses fail to adequately maintain their property or don’t have proper security, which can result in innocent people getting injured or assaulted. Like other states, Texas recognizes three types of visitors: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Property owners owe each type of visitor a certain duty of care.
If you or your child has sustained an injury after being invited onto someone else’s property for business or pleasure, you might be entitled to compensation directly related to your injury. Texas has a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases, including premises liability cases, so you should contact a licensed attorney as soon as possible following your accident. Call one of the experienced San Antonio premises liability lawyers at the Law Offices of George Salinas, located in San Antonio, Texas, at (210) 225-0909 to discuss the details of your case.
Our Past Results in Premises Liability Cases
At the Law Offices of George Salinas, our legal team has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for clients who we have represented in previous personal injury cases, including those that involve premises liability issues. While there is no way to guarantee a favorable result in any particular case, the attorneys at the Law Offices of George Salinas will advocate for you and fight to attain the best possible outcome given your individual situation.
Injured Sustained in Premises Liability Cases
Many situations give rise to premises liability accidents, but almost every injury that occurs on another individual’s property falls under this type of personal injury claim. Here are some of the most common examples of accidents that personal injury attorneys often deal with in premises liability cases:
- Slip and falls caused by hazardous conditions or spills at a place of business
- Swimming pool accidents at public and private pools
- Elevator or escalator malfunctions that lead to injury
- Poor building maintenance that leads to injury
- Lack of building security that leads to assault, rape, homicide, or other intentional harm
- Malfunctioning theme park rides that lead to injury
Premises Liability Accidents Injuries
Injuries that occur in premises liability accidents vary significantly based on the specifics of an accident, including location and severity. Some examples of injuries that are often associated with premises liability lawsuits include:
- Fractured and broken bones
- Lacerations and contusions
- Soft tissues damage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons
- Head trauma, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Burns from fires, explosions, or exposure to dangerous chemicals
- Emotional trauma in cases that involve intentional harm
What are Damages in Premises Liability Cases
In Texas premises liability cases, victims are eligible to seek compensatory and exemplary damages. Texas courts only award exemplary damages, often referred to as punitive damages in other states, in cases of fraud, malice, or gross negligence. Courts most often award compensatory damages, which are meant to help victims recover from the economic and social costs of their injuries. Some of the most common compensatory damages in premises liability cases include:
- Medical expenses, including ambulance and emergency services, hospitalization, doctor visits, x-rays, prescription medication, physical therapy, and assistive devices such as wheelchairs, canes, and prosthetic limbs
- Future medical expenses in the case of a permanent disability
- Lost wages for missing work because of an injury
- Lost earning capacity in the event that an injury prohibits a victim from returning to work
- Home modification expenses if the victim needs to install handrails, ramps, or other modifications for accessibility
- Cost of replacement services, including domestic help for cooking, cleaning, running errands, lawn care, and any other activity that a victim cannot perform following an accident
- Pain and suffering directly related to the injury
- Loss of consortium
Property Owners Will Pin the Blame on You
Property owners and their insurance carries will go out of their way to avoid paying damages when they are named as defendants in premises liability lawsuits. Insurance companies will deny claims and suggest that a victim’s injury occurred elsewhere, and shifting blame to the victim is one of the most common defense tactics.
Texas courts apply a modified comparative fault rule in premises liability cases. Under the doctrine of modified comparative fault, after a court finds that a negligent property owner caused a victim’s injury, the court assigns a percentage of fault to each party and reduces the award according to this percentage. For example, if an injured individual sues for $100,000, and the court determines that the plaintiff was 10 percent at fault for his or her injury, the court will reduce the damages amount by 10 percent, to $90,000. Texas’s modification of comparative fault prohibits injured parties from collecting damages if they are more than 50 percent at fault for their own injury.
Modified comparative fault gives the defense an incentive to shift the blame to the injured party. The defense might try to accomplish this in a variety of ways, including claiming that the property owner marked the dangerous condition that caused the accident, the victim was distracted talking to someone else or using a cell phone, and the victim entered a prohibited area of the property. However, if the injured victim is a child, this strategy typically does not work. Like other states, Texas has codified the law of attractive nuisance, which places a higher duty of care on property owners when children are involved; even child trespassers are protected.
A licensed attorney with experience representing individuals in premises liability cases will know what strategies the defense might attempt to employ, and fight to hold those who caused your injury responsible.
San Antonio Premises Liability FAQ
If you sustained an injury due to the conditions of another’s property, you may seek compensation for your injuries through a premises liability claim. Plaintiffs base premises liability claims on a property owner’s negligence to fulfill their duty to safely maintain the properties for guests.
However, unlike typical negligence claims, which involve an ongoing activity, premises liability occurs when property owners are aware of a dangerous condition on their property, but fail to repair it or adequately warn visitors of the danger. Business owners may be liable for any injuries resulting from a spill on the floor, if they knew about the spill and failed to clean it up.
What does “premises” include?
According to Texas law, “premises” may include private roads, public roads, land, waterways, buildings, and structures. In addition, any equipment or machinery that may be located on the land or attached to the land, a road, or waterway is also included in the “premises.” Injured parties may be entitled to file a premises liability claim against an individual, a business, or the government, depending on where the accident and resulting injuries occur.
What is the difference between negligence and premises liability?
While both negligence and premises liability are similar causes of action, it is almost always more difficult to prove a premises liability claim. For a successful negligence claim, you only have to prove that the defendant owed you a duty to keep their property safe, then failed to keep the property safe, and as a result, you were injured. For example, a property owner may spill liquid on the floor and fail to clean it up or provide adequate warning signs. If that spill caused you to sustain injuries, and treatment for those injuries caused you to incur medical expenses, you may be entitled to compensation.
On the other hand, a premises liability claim requires injured parties to demonstrate that the property owner knew that a dangerous condition was present on their land, and that the condition “posed an unreasonable risk.” Additionally, you must also show that the defendant ignored the risk, and because he ignored the risk, you suffered injuries.
Why would a San Antonio premises liability lawyer plead both causes of action?
In some cases, a property owner’s actions may be negligent and at the same time, demonstrate premises liability. An attorney might plead both causes of action to prevent a rejection of one claim, which would require filing an entirely separate second claim to see if the other would be successful. Pleading both causes of action simultaneously may prevent a defendant from filing a motion to dismiss because you claimed an improper standard of law in your initial claim. Oftentimes, a defendant may file a motion to dismiss, despite having no legal basis for the motion, to delay resolution of the claim. Filing both causes of action may help prevent the defendant from utilizing a motion to dismiss as a delay tactic.
Does the owner, occupant, or lessee of recreational land in San Antonio have a duty to keep visitors safe?
The law greatly reduces a landowner’s potential for liability for recreational property due to the nature of the activities for which people use the land. When individuals have permission to use the land for certain activities, including hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, boating, swimming, or rock climbing, property owners may not bear less responsibility for any injuries related to those activities.
When can the owner of recreational property in San Antonio incur liability?
If a property owner invites you onto the premises for recreational activities, and you suffer injury as a result of the owner’s gross negligence, bad faith, or malicious intent, the owner may share responsibility. For example, if Owner Smith allows UTV use on his property, but digs a pit trap on a trail and fails to warn you of that danger, if it causes you injury, Owner Smith may bear liability for the resulting damages.
However, Owner Smith may invite you to ride your UTV on his property, and inform you of the danger of a pit trap on one of the trails. If you ignore the warning and sustain injuries in an accident involving the put trap, the property owner may not be liable because you were aware of the danger.
Does a San Antonio landowner owe a duty of care to a trespasser?
Put simply, landowners do not owe a duty of care to trespassers who enter the property without permission. However, property owners have a duty to refrain from willfully injuring trespassers. For example, an owner who has persistent problems with trespassers must refrain from setting a trap to catch them in the act. Although, if a landowner suspects that children may be inclined to trespass on their property due to an artificial condition that is attractive to children, they will likely be liable for the resulting damages.
For example, a landowner may have a pool in their backyard. If the area around the pool is not fenced in, or the gate has no lock, and a child drowns in the pool, the property owner may be liable. However, if the pool has a fence and the gate is locked property owners may avoid liability for any accidents that occur in their swimming pool.
What damages can be recovered in a San Antonio premises liability lawsuit or settlement?
The type and amount of damages an injured party may be entitled to seek depends on the level of fault assigned to the property owner and the severity of the injuries incurred, among other factors.
Damages that may be available to injured parties include:
- Past and future medical expenses, including physical therapy, cognitive therapy, and/or psychological therapy;
- Past and future lost wages;
- Funeral, burial and/or cremation expenses;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of companionship;
- Loss of consortium;
- Loss of use of a body part or bodily function;
- Amputations; and
If you were injured or lost a loved one in a premises liability accident, you may file a personal injury claim or a wrongful death claim. Contact the Law Offices of George Salinas for a free consultation today.
Contact Our San Antonio Premises Liability Lawyer
If you live in the San Antonio area and have sustained an injury on someone else’s property, call one of the experienced premises liability attorneys at the Law Offices of George Salinas at (210) 225-0909, or contact us online, to schedule your free consultation. We will evaluate your case and determine your eligibility for compensation.
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