Cinco Ranch Slip & Fall Attorney
Anyone can fall anywhere at any time. But the risk of a fall increases as we age. So does the severity of fall injuries. Most people over 60 fall at least once, and falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among folks over 80. Property owners, such as private homeowners and nursing home owners, have a legal responsibility to prevent such injuries, as outlined below.
At the West Law Office, our steadfast Cinco Ranch slip & fall attorneys work hard to settle these claims quickly. But we never take the first offer or take the easy way out. Instead, we bring all our negotiating experience to bear for you. We are not satisfied with anything less than the best possible result under the circumstances, because neither are you.
Duty of Care
Since the Middle Ages, the law has traditionally divided premises liability victims into several categories in order to determine the owner’s legal responsibility in the case. Texas largely sticks to these three categories, which are:
- Invitee (permission to be on the property and benefit to the owner),
- Licensee (permission but no benefit) and
- Trespasser (no permission and no benefit).
Almost all fall victims are invitees. The permission could be personal, like a dinner invitation, or impersonal, like an “Open” sign in the window. The benefit could be economic, such as a shopper who might spend money or an employee who provides services, or noneconomic, such as the benefit of social interaction from a social guest.
Since the relationship between the owner and victim is so close, the owner has a duty of reasonable care in these situations. This duty requires owners to initially ensure reasonable property safety and frequently inspect it to maintain this standard.
Some people are licensees. Examples include a guest of a hotel guest or a guest of an apartment tenant. Owners have a duty to warn licensees about latent (hidden) defects, such as a loose rug or hand rail.
A handful of victims are trespassers. Owners usually have no duty at all in these situations. Tales of injured burglars who successfully sue innocent homeowners are mostly urban legends.
Knowledge of Hazard
Usually, a judge determines the legal duty, if any, which applies in the claim. Victim/plaintiffs must then establish knowledge of the fall-causing hazard by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Direct evidence of actual knowledge includes items like “cleanup on aisle nine” announcements and unaddressed repair requests. Circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known) usually involves the time-notice rule.
Assume Janice slips and falls on a banana peel. If the peel was yellow, it probably just fell on the floor. So more than likely, the owner isn’t liable. But if the peel was black, it had most likely been on the floor for awhile. Therefore, an employee should have picked it up.
Direct evidence is usually stronger than circumstantial evidence. Since such proof usually doesn’t surface until the discovery period, a Cinco Ranch slip & fall attorney must not settle a claim too early. If that happens, the victim might not receive maximum compensation.
Count on an Experienced Fort Bend County Lawyer
Personal injury victims deserve fair compensation for their serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Cinco Ranch personal injury attorney, contact The West Law Office. We routinely handle matters in Harris County and nearby jurisdictions.