Guarding against business premises liability claims in Texas

When people are injured on business or commercial property in Texas, the owners of those properties face potential liability. As in most things, when it comes to premises liability in Texas, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To help protect themselves and their customers, Texas business owners should familiarize themselves with the law and take steps to ensure that their properties are safe for the people who enter onto them.

Duty of care depends on circumstances

Under Texas law, property owners and occupiers owe different duties of care to visitors depending on the nature of the property and the relationship between the landowner and the visitor. Generally speaking, businesses and commercial property owners owe the highest duty of care to people who enter onto their premises for commercial reasons.

This standard requires businesses and property owners to keep their premises in safe condition and warn visitors of any reasonably foreseeable safety hazards. It is important to understand that premises liability can apply in Texas even if the business owner was not actually aware of the existence of a hazard, so long as the plaintiff can prove that the owner reasonably should have known about it.

In contrast, owners of private real estate in Texas typically owe a lower duty of care to social visitors. This means that private property owners are usually not required to go to the same lengths to ensure the safety of their guests as is required in a commercial setting. Similarly, even on commercial property, Texas law does not generally require the same level of care for trespassers as is required for those who enter onto a property legally. An important exception exists, however, for child trespassers in certain cases.

Common premises liability claims

People can be injured on commercial properties in many different ways, but certain types of injuries occur more frequently than others. Some of the most common sources of business premises liability claims in Texas include slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall injuries. These types of injuries often occur on stairways, especially those that are poorly lit, in need of repair, or lacking adequate hand rails. They can also occur on walking surfaces that are cracked, wet, uneven or obstructed.

Businesses and property owners in Texas may wish to consult with a lawyer to help limit their exposure to potential premises liability lawsuits. An attorney with experience in this complex area of the law can work with clients to identify areas of potential risk and defend them against any premises liability claims that may arise.