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People who suffered injury on someone else’s premises – be it a residence, a plot of land or a business – should consider consulting with slip and fall lawyers (better known as personal injury attorneys) to determine whether they have a basis for a legal claim. This type of lawsuit generally falls into the Premises Liability category.
Slip and fall lawyers deal with a variety of such cases on a daily basis: a person tripping on an uneven walkway; a shopper slipping on a wet floor; someone tumbling down a flight of stairs due to broken stair rails. These are just some of the innumerable scenarios possible. At times, the injuries sustained in these accidents can be quite serious.
In Texas, a property owner may be held liable for harm to another person if:
- The condition of the property posed an unreasonable risk of injury;
- The property owner was aware (or reasonably should have been aware) of the risk and failed to remedy the dangerous situation;
- The property owner breached his or her duty of ordinary care by failing to warn of the dangerous condition.
Two of the words plaintiffs will hear slip and fall lawyers mention quite frequently during the legal proceedings are “reasonable” and “foreseeable.”
“Reasonable” is a relative word whose definition differs from person to person, and from one situation to the next. In legal circles, “reasonable” usually refers to a standard of care that a sensible and prudent individual would deem appropriate under a given set of circumstances.
“Foreseeable,” in legal jargon, generally refers to an event a reasonable person could have, or should have, anticipated.
In an effort to present a solid claim in Texas civil courts, plaintiffs and slip and fall lawyers must prove certain elements of proximate causation to establish the defendant’s liability.
- The plaintiff must demonstrate, first and foremost, that a dangerous condition indeed existed
- The plaintiff must show that the owner of the premises knew about the hazardous condition or should have foreseen it
- The plaintiff must show that the property owner should have anticipated the reasonable possibility that the dangerous condition could result in injury to another
- The plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent because he or she failed to correct the hazardous situation
- Finally, the plaintiff must also show that the defendant’s actions or omissions are a direct cause of the plaintiff’s injury
The very first step — establishing that a hazardous condition existed in the first place — may prove to be one of the most difficult aspects of the case. Oftentimes, the danger is removed as soon as a property owner becomes aware that an individual suffered injury because of it. For this reason, it is important that people who believe they may have a valid personal injury claim consider contacting reputable slip and fall lawyers without delay. Immediate action allows the attorney to evaluate the property’s condition right away and collect evidence such as photographs. Another reason many seek legal help early is to avoid an expiration of the statute of limitations, which is two years in Texas.
The attorney will initially try to arrive at a settlement agreement with the opposing party. If these attempts at fair compensation for the client fail, the case may go to trial.