Property Owners Responsibilities
A property or business owner is responsible for its guests and patrons. That includes ensuring that the property is safe for its visitors, whether that means mopping up the floor after a spill, making sure a wheelchair ramp for those with special needs is accessible and meets building code, or a business features adequate and working security measures to protect its customers.
Here are some scenarios. You and your family are attending a professional sports game. You decide to take a trip to concessions for a snack and beverage, but as you’re walking down the steps and the edge of one of the concrete steps cracks due to the extreme heat, you lose your balance and fall down. A sprained ankle or broken leg could result. If that’s the case, you may be entitled to compensation from the property owner or management of the venue.
Here’s another situation. You decide to take your kids to the city zoo for an afternoon outing. You’re showing your children the habitat for the monkeys. There’s a perch for visitors to get a better view, so you bring your children to see the monkeys from above. One of your children leans against the wooden railing and it splinters, stabbing the child and causing the child to lose its balance and fall. The wound is deep and requires stitches. The zoo could be to blame and forced to pay the medical bills because its premises were not safe.
Or take an amusement park or carnival. If one of the rides breaks and you are injured as a result, you may be able to sue. A place of business, such as a hotel, restaurant or shopping area must be safe for customers as well.
Premise Liability Cases
If a tort, such as one of the above has happened to you, you may be able to claim compensation. However, before you proceed, there are technicalities you should understand. If you were trespassing on someone’s property with intents to break into the home, and the homeowner’s dog bites you, you may not have a case. Dog bites account for one-third of home liability cases. The same goes for a tenant of an apartment complex that is dilapidated and the wiring is outdated. You may be aware that the building is violating building code, but choose to live there because of the cheap rent, so if you hurt as a result of faulty wiring that you knew about, you may not have a case.
When determining a premise liability case, you should know how a plaintiff can be labeled. The status of the litigant will determine the dues owed by the property owner. The plaintiff will be labeled as an invitee, licensee or trespasser. An invitee is someone who has been invited to premises for business or public purposes. A business invitee means that someone is on a property because of business dealings with the land or property owner, such as the owner of a bed and breakfast. A public invitee is one who has entered the property that is open to the public, such as a park.
A licensee is a bit more complex. A person who enters premises with permission but for his or her own reasons is a licensee. A guest of a party at someone’s home for example, is a licensee. For a plaintiff labeled as a licensee, he or she must prove that the property owner was aware of the condition that caused the guest harm, and failed to solve the issue. The guest must have been unaware of the issue the whole time as well.
All in all, the main difference between an invitee and a licensee is that in a trial, a licensee must prove that the property owner knew of the hazard while an invitee only has to prove that the property owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. A licensee must prove that he or she did not know of the hazard while the invitee does not need to do so.
If a plaintiff is deemed as a trespasser, such as burglar, thief or someone with a restraining order from the property owner, then the property owner is less likely to be found guilty.
Slips and falls, dog bites, failure of security measures and fires are some of the most common premise liability cases. Medical bills for injuries such as slips and falls and burns, for example, can be extremely high. Slipping can result in a broken hip or dislocated shoulder. The treatment of burns can take several surgeries. These all cost money. So as you can see, there are numerous variables to consider when it comes to premise liability lawsuits, and that’s why you should consult with a professional attorney with years of experience with cases such as these, like Amy K. VanDeLoo of the VanDeLoo Firm. If you are in the Plano, Frisco, Allen or McKinney area and are need of representation for a premise liability suit, contact the VanDeLoo Firm for a free consultation and the firm will let you how you should proceed.
5700 Granite Parkway, Suite 200
Plano, Texas 75024