Humble Slip & Fall Attorney
Fall injuries are the leading cause of Emergency Room visits in Harris County. These injuries are particularly severe for vulnerable victims with pre-existing conditions. Some conditions increase the risk of a fall, some increase the severity of a fall, and some do both these things. Regardless of the victim’s prior medical condition, substantial compensation is usually available in slip & fall injury matters.
When you reach out to us, the diligent Humble slip & fall attorneys at The West Law Office hit the ground running. Because of our experience, we know how to collect evidence in these cases that supports your claim for damage. We also know how to build a case and prepare for some common insurance company defenses. This approach usually produces results which exceed our clients’ expectations.
Like many other jurisdictions, Texas uses a guest classification system to determine the owner’s duty in a particular situation. This classification system is based on English common law principles.
- Invitee: If the victim had express or implied permission to be on the land, and the victim’s presence benefited the owner in any way, the victim was an invitee. As such, the owner had a duty of reasonable care. To fulfill this duty, the owner must make the property reasonably safe and frequently inspect it to maintain this standard.
- Licensee: Guests of apartment tenants are usually licensees. They have permission to be on the property, but their presence does not benefit the owner. Because the relationship is more distant, the duty is reduced. Generally, owners must only warn licensees about latent (hidden) defects, like a loose handrail.
- Trespasser: This pejorative term simply means a person who has no permission and confers no benefit. Owners generally have no duty in these situations. Some legal doctrines, like the attractive nuisance rule, protect children and other trespassers in some situations.
Generally, the judge determines the applicable duty during a pretrial hearing. Knowledge is a different matter, as outlined below.
Knowledge of Hazard
Slip & fall victims must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), that the owner knew, or should have known, about the fall hazard.
Direct evidence of actual knowledge includes things like repair estimates, restroom cleaning reports, and “cleanup on Aisle Seven” announcements.
Circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known) usually involves the time-notice rule. Assume the victim slipped on a piece of lettuce in a grocery store. If the lettuce was wet and crisp, it probably just fell on the floor. So, liability does not attach. However, if the lettuce was dry or wilted, it had probably been on the floor for some time. Therefore, constructive knowledge attaches.
Some Insurance Company Defenses
An open and obvious hazard and the assumption of the risk doctrine are two of the most common insurance company defenses in slip & fall claims.
Typically, owners are not liable for damages if the fall hazard was open and obvious. Examples include a dark-colored wet spot on a light-colored floor and a grocery store aisle display. But the nature of “open and obvious” is subjective. For example, many older adults suffer from Age-related Macular Degeneration and a gait disorder. They cannot see straight ahead very well. And, once they stumble, they usually fall.
Assumption of the risk usually involves a “Caution: Wet Floor” or other warning sign. Contrary to popular myth, a warning sign is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. The insurance company must prove the victim saw the sign, could read the sign, and could understand what the sign meant. These visual and cognitive abilities vary significantly in different people.
Reach Out to a Thorough Slip & Fall Attorney
Slip & fall victims are normally entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Humble, contact The West Law Office, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.