TEXAS SLIP AND FALL ATTORNEY
Property owners and occupants have a duty to keep their premises safe for visitors. This means keeping the property free of hazards, property defects, and other dangerous conditions. When these issues are not addressed in a timely manner, accidents can occur. Slips, trips, and falls are the most common types of accidents that happen to property visitors. These may seem like minor incidents, but slips and falls often cause serious injuries that result in mounting medical bills, numerous days missed from work, and other losses.
Slip and fall injuries in Texas often happen in numerous types of residential and commercial settings, such as:
- Retail stores
- Grocery stores
- Wholesale clubs
- Home improvement stores
- Amusement parks
- Hotels and resorts
- Stadiums and arenas
- Construction sites
- Office buildings
- Apartment complexes
- Nursing homes
- Government buildings
- Parking Lots
- Private residences
Owners and occupants are supposed to routinely inspect their properties to identify any hazards and warn visitors of their existence. In addition, they are supposed to take reasonable measures to address safety issues once they become aware of their existence.
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The responsibilities property owners or occupants differ based on the type of visitor that enters their premises. These are broken into three categories:
Invitee: Someone who has been invited onto a property, such as an employee, customer, or tenant. The owner/occupant is responsible to keep the premises safe for invitees through reasonable care. This is considered the highest duty of care.
Licensee: Someone who has implied permission to enter the property, such as a mail carrier, door to door salesperson, or a social guest. Licensees who suffer slip and fall injuries must prove that the injuries were caused by a specific hazard or defect, the owner/occupant knew, or should have known about it, and that hazard or defect was concealed and not obvious to the accident.
Trespasser: People who have not been invited, and have no legal right to be on the property. An owner/occupant owes no duty to trespassers, except to refrain from willful or wanton misconduct or entrapment.
Premises liability cases such as slips and falls are complex, and it can be difficult to prove the owner or occupant bears responsibility for your injuries. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident in Texas, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who has in-depth knowledge of the complexities of these types of cases.
HOW DOES A SLIP AND FALL INJURY CLAIM WORK?
If you were a visitor on the premises of another party and suffered a slip and fall injury, you may have the right to file a personal injury claim. Following the accident, there are some important steps you should take:
- Have your injuries treated right away
- Take multiple photographs showing the hazards that caused your fall
- Obtain the names and addresses of all witnesses (preferably witnesses that are not employed by the defendant)
- Retain full medical documentation of your injuries
- Speak with a slip and fall injuries attorney in Texas to evaluate your case
If an attorney agrees to take your case, they will thoroughly investigate the specific circumstances that led to the injury and determine the best legal avenue toward a favorable outcome. There are two potential types of actions that could be pursued in a slip and fall case; negligent activity and premises liability. To prevail in a negligent activity claim, you must prove that:
- The defendant owed a legal duty of care to the plaintiff
- The defendant breached that duty
- This breach was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury
In a premises liability action, you must prove that the injury was caused by the condition of the premises, rather than the negligent activity of the defendant. In general, a premises liability case is harder to prove and easier to defend than a negligent activity claim.
Once the evidence has been gathered and the action has been prepared, your attorney will be in communication with the defendant’s insurance company and their legal representatives. Usually, the preferred outcome is to obtain a settlement that is acceptable to the plaintiff without going to trial. However, if the other side is not willing to be reasonable, you must be prepared to litigate the case.
During the process, you may be contacted by the defendant’s insurer with questions about your claim. You should not give any statements to the insurer (or otherwise speak with them about the case) without first talking to your attorney. Insurance companies often try to talk to accident victims and get them to say things that might damage their case. They may even try to imply that the slip and fall injury was your fault, and the defendant bears no responsibility. For this reason, the best approach is usually to let your attorney handle all communications with the other side.
DO I NEED A TEXAS SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENT ATTORNEY?
If you decide to pursue a slip and fall injury claim on your own, you would be facing an uphill battle. First of all, you need to perform a thorough investigation to determine the facts and gather extensive evidence to support your claim. Just as importantly, you need to be able to prove that the accident was not in any way your fault. In doing so, you need to identify the correct at-fault party and how best to pursue the case.
You can choose to take your case to court, or you can try to settle with the defendant’s insurance company. If you are not represented by an attorney, you will most likely want to avoid a trial (unless you are already familiar with these types of legal proceedings) and negotiate with the other side. In this scenario, the insurer for the other side knows you are not planning to go to trial, which takes away any incentive they have to make you a fair offer.
An experienced slip and fall injury attorney in Texas will be able to handle the complexities of the case for you. Your attorney will identify important pieces of evidence that might be critical in the success of your case. In addition, they will have optimal leverage during negotiations, because the insurance company knows you have a solid case and you’re ready to go to trial if necessary.
TYPES OF SLIP AND FALL INJURIES THAT OCCUR IN TEXAS
Slips and falls happen in Texas for a number of reasons, such as:
- Wet and slippery floors
- Loose floorboards and protruding nails
- Cluttered floors
- Torn carpeting
- Uneven surfaces
- Dangerous stairs
- Loose handrails
- Defective escalators
- Defective sidewalks
- Parking lot potholes
- Inadequate lighting
- Bad weather
- Other hazardous conditions
Common injuries that occur from slip and fall accidents include:
- Head and Brain Injuries
- Broken Bones
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Neck and Back Injuries
- Soft Tissue Injuries
- Internal Injuries
HOW WILL A TEXAS SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENT ATTORNEY HELP ME?
There are many unique factors that determine the success or failure of a slip and fall injury claim. Your attorney will be able to review the reports and other case documents, speak with witnesses, examine video footage, etc. to identify the important factors that will be used to pursue your claim. Your attorney will also evaluate the case to determine what type of visitor you were when you suffered injury, who should be held responsible, and what type of personal injury action is most likely to produce a favorable result.
At Reyna Law Firm, we understand the enormous physical, emotional, and financial trauma slip and fall injury victims and their families endure, and we work hard to make the legal process smooth and seamless. We have many years of experience handling personal injury claims in Texas, and we put our extensive experience to work to provide the skilled representation our clients deserve.
TEXAS SLIP AND FALL INJURY STATISTICS
According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NSFI), over 1 million ER visits in the U.S. each year are the result of slips and falls. In addition, slip and fall injuries are the primary cause of missed days from work. And according to the Centers for Disease Control, falls are the leading cause of death among older Americans.
Texas has a large elderly population. And seniors in this state are at greater risk of slips and falls. For this reason, it is especially incumbent upon all nursing homes, assisted living centers, and commercial establishments with large elderly constituencies to ensure that their premises are free of hazards.
TEXAS INSURANCE LAWS REGARDING SLIP AND FALL INJURIES
A 2015 Texas Supreme Court ruling has made it tougher to collect damages from a slip and fall accident claim. Prior to this ruling, plaintiffs generally only had to prove two factual predicates in these types of cases:
- An unreasonably hazardous condition existed on the premises
- The property owner was aware, or should have been aware, of the hazardous condition
In ruling in favor of the defendant, the court added two additional factors that must be proved:
- The hazardous condition was not “open and obvious”
- The injured party was not aware of the hazard
There are some exceptions to these guidelines, but these are the general standards of proof that Texas courts are currently following.
With a higher burden of proof for slip and fall injury victims, it is increasingly important to work with skilled legal counsel. Texas has made it more difficult, but with the right legal strategy, those who deserve to be compensated for injuries from slips and falls can still prevail in a court proceeding.
WHY CHOOSE OUR FIRM?
Reyna Law Firm has helped numerous clients obtain six and seven figure verdicts and settlements in personal injury actions. We know the ins and outs of slip and fall accident claims, and what it takes to prevail even in a state that is not always friendly to accident injury victims. We have been recognized by our peers not only for our skill and experience, but also for our tireless advocacy on behalf of each client we serve.
Our clients gain several other benefits when they work with us, including:
- Free, no obligation consultations
- Honest and realistic case assessments
- Personal dedication to your case
- Ongoing updates provided throughout the legal process
- A 10.0 (superb) Avvo rating
- Strong track record of successful results
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT TEXAS SLIP AND FALL INJURY CLAIMS
There are some commercial establishments where there is a set procedure to file a report of any accidents or injuries. If this applies to your case, then go ahead and file the report stating what happened, who witnessed the incident, and other relevant information. Avoid making any lengthy statements, and do not sign anything without first speaking with your attorney. Finally, retain a copy of the report for your records.
This is a good illustration of the complicated nature of slip and fall accident cases. In this instance, it depends on who was responsible for keeping the steps safe and free from hazards, which should be stated in the lease agreement. Another possibility is that a third party might be liable, such as a contractor that was hired to remove snow and ice from the steps and failed to do their job properly. Your attorney will review the specifics of your case to determine who should compensate you for your injuries.
In most cases, the answer is no. Most Texas employers carry workers’ compensation coverage for their employees, so injuries sustained on the job would fall under the state’s workers’ compensation laws. There are a couple exceptions, however. Some employers are non-subscribers who choose not to obtain workers’ comp coverage. If your employer is a non-subscriber, then a personal injury claim can be pursued. Another exception is if the slip and fall injury was caused by a third party, such as a vendor who acted carelessly on the property. In such cases, you may be able to hold the third party responsible in a personal injury action.
Compensation for slip and fall injury cases can be broken down into several categories.
Medical Costs: Current and future medical expenses incurred for the treatment of your injuries.
Lost Wages: Compensation for time missed from work to treat your injuries. And if your injuries resulted in a temporary or permanent disability, compensation for loss of future earning capacity.
Pain and Suffering: Physical pain, anxiety, sleeplessness, and other types of physical and emotional trauma.
Wrongful Death: Complications from slip and fall injuries that turn fatal.
If you bring a slip and fall injury claim, the defendant will likely argue that you are at least partially at fault. If the court sides with the defendant and determines that you are partly to blame, the state’s proportional responsibility rules go into effect. Under these rules, any damages you are due are reduced proportionally based on your percentage of responsibility. If your percentage of responsibility is greater than 50%, you are not entitled to any damages at all.
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