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Who is liable when you are injured on someone else’s property?

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2024 | Premises Liability |

There are many different types of accidents that can occur when you are on someone else’s property, such as a friend’s house or a public business. Slipping and falling on an item, getting bitten by a dog or being injured at an amusement park or swimming pool can cause serious injuries.

When your injuries are severe, you may realize that treatment can quickly become quite expensive. Your injuries could have a long-term impact, causing you to miss time at work or lose your job.

Perhaps you already know that you can file a personal injury claim based on premises liability in this type of situation. A broad definition of premises liability is a set of laws that require property owners to make sure their property is safe for visitors.

To succeed in a premises liability claim in Texas, you must prove that the property owner breached their legal duty to keep their property safe and this caused you damage.

The specific duty owed to you depends on your legal classification at the time of the incident.

Trespasser, licensee or invitee?

For example, if you were a trespasser, which means you were illegally on the property, the property owner likely does not owe you any legal duty except to not intentionally cause you injury.

However, if you were not a trespasser, your status was probably a licensee or an invitee. A licensee is on property with the owner’s permission for their own benefit, such as to visit a friend or sell something.

An invitee is on property with the owner’s permission for the benefit of themselves and the property owner. The most common example is when you enter a store to purchase products.

In these cases, a property owner has a legal duty to tell you about any dangerous conditions on the property. If you are an invitee, the property owner must also fix or repair any damage that they could have discovered through a reasonable inspection.

The property owner might not always be responsible

Although the most obvious answer to who is responsible if you are injured on someone else’s property is the owner, this may not always be the case.

If you are in someone’s house, the homeowner or renter might be responsible. If you are injured while in a business, the property owner or commercial tenant could be responsible.

The situation often becomes complex when the injury occurs on rented property. There may be a dispute between the owner and tenant about who is liable. The answer often lies in who knew about the dangerous condition and had an opportunity to fix it.

In a situation involving a commercially rented property, the owner may not have set foot on the property in months and could argue it is their tenant’s responsibility to inspect and repair any dangerous conditions that the owner could not possibly know about.

Sometimes the answer is that both the property owner and tenant are responsible for locating and fixing the dangerous condition.