English poet John Donne once famously wrote that “no man is an island.” Although Donne was referring to a more philosophical point, the phrase also works if you take it a little more literally. Unless you live under a rock, chances are, you have had to leave your home to either shop for groceries, fill up on gas, pick up supplies, etc.
Every day, we all partake in a variety of commercial transactions that take place at some type of business property. Even with the advent of online shopping shrinking our need to ever leave our homes, it is still very likely that participating in commercial transactions on a business property will continue to remain a staple of our society.
When we go to the store to buy groceries, pick out a new sweater, or grab some new tools, we rarely consider some of the worst-case scenarios that could potentially happen. Naturally, we don’t ever consider that we are in an environment that we literally have no control over. As a guest on the store’s property, you have no real control over whether a spill has been cleaned up before you slip on it, or if a stair rail has been installed properly before you fall from it, or if a coat hanger was picked up off the floor before you trip on it.
In Texas, there is a special part of the law carved out to help protect guests in the event that they are injured at someone else’s property. These laws are called Premises Liability laws.
What Are Premises Liability Laws?
In Texas, premises liability laws are set to help determine who is at fault (liability) in the event that a guest or “invitee” is injured on another person’s property; essentially, it helps answer whether or not the invitee who is injured may receive compensation for their injuries.
Liability is strictly determined by the circumstances surrounding the situation. The property owner is not ALWAYS at-fault for an invitee’s injuries however if someone is injured due to the negligence of the property owner, then it is likely they have a premises liability injury claim.
What Happens If The Store Has A Sign That Says “We Are Not Responsible For Accidents” Posted? Can I Still Sue For My Injuries?
Yes, you can absolutely still sue for your injuries. As we have covered previously, these “We Are Not Responsible For Accidents” signs carry no real weight when it comes to premises liability laws as they DO NOT absolve the store owner of responsibility to ensure the safety of their invitees. These signs are simply used by store owners to deter their guests from using the rights that premises liability laws afford injured invitees. Essentially, these signs mean absolutely nothing.
How Do I Know If I Have An Injury Claim Against The Store?
Understanding the rights that are afforded to you as a guest on someone’s property is incredibly important. Let’s go over a few scenarios to help understand premises liability laws:
Scenario 1: While you are shopping at the store, another guest spilled water on the floor. That guest reported the spill to a manager, who subsequently forgot and did not assign someone to clean up the spill. You walk over the spill, slipping and injuring your hip and your arm trying to break your fall.
Yes, you would have a premises liability injury claim against the store in this situation. The store was provided with adequate information about the spill and acted negligently as the manager forgot to assign someone to clean up the spill.
Scenario 2: While shopping for clothes, you decide to go up the 2nd floor using the escalator. Suddenly, you remember that the department you were heading toward was actually on the 1st floor, so to save yourself a trip up, you turn around and attempt to walk down the up-escalator. You lose your balance, tripping over your foot, falling and injuring your arms and your face.
No, you would not have a premises liability injury claim. In this scenario, the cause of your injury cannot be reasonably linked to the store as your individual actions by walking the wrong way placed yourself in danger of an injury.
Scenario 3: A local superstore is undergoing light renovations and has decided to remain open to allow customers to continue to shop. While shopping close to where the renovations are taking place, you notice that the area has not been sectioned off, so you assume the area you are standing in is safe to shop in when suddenly, a ceiling tile falls and lands on your head, causing you to have a concussion.
Yes, in this scenario you would definitely have an injury claim against the store. The store acted negligently for 1) not sectioning off the area to keep invitees safe and 2) staying open assuming shoppers would be safe while the renovations were occurring.
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