Galveston Woman Sues Wal-Mart
On November 18, 2013, a Galveston woman, Peggy Flores, filed a personal injury lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Texas LLC. Ms. Flores alleges that Wal-Mart’s failure to properly maintain the premises led to injuries to her eyes, nose, neck and general body. Her petition states that Wal-Mart “knew or reasonably should have known of the dangerous conditions existing before the plaintiff was injured” but did not warn her of these conditions. Businesses in Galveston, Beaumont, El Paso, Lubbock, Tyler and all throughout Texas have a duty to ensure the safety of their customers who are invited onto the business property.
Premises Liability in Texas
A premise liability case is different than a typical negligence personal injury action. If you are injured, a skilled attorney will know which type of lawsuit is appropriate for your situation. The attorney will look at not only the facts of your case, he or she will also determine which type of suit is more likely to yield a higher award of damages.
In order to bring a successful premises liability suit, a plaintiff must show the following four elements:
- The owner or occupier (such as a renter) of the premises knew about the condition on the premises that led to the injury, either because he or she saw it or because someone told them about it, or because they should have known;
- The condition was actually dangerous and the risk posed was unreasonable;
- The owner or occupier did not use reasonable care to minimize or get rid of the risk of harm caused by the condition; and,
- The owner or occupier’s failure to exercise such reasonable care proximately caused the injuries to the plaintiff.
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While a plaintiff must show those four elements in order to be successful, it is not as simple as it sounds. The legal world is full of ambiguity and debate over the meaning of words. Additionally, the legal analysis must account for the status of the owner or occupier of the premises and for the status of the injured party. For example, did the person sued (the “defendant”) own the property but not control it? It is possible that someone other than the owner controlled the property, like a renter, and that would mean the owner probably did not owe a duty to the injured party. Therefore, a claim against the owner would likely be unsuccessful.
Similarly, the status of the plaintiff impacts the analysis. In Texas, while you are on another’s property, you are either an “invitee,” “licensee,” or a “trespasser.” You are an invitee if you are on the possessor’s premises as the result of an invitation, either explicit or implied, for the benefit of you and the possessor. Customers and employees of a business are invitees, for example. When you invite someone over to your house for dinner, he or she is a licensee. A trespasser is someone who does not have permission to be on the property.
If you or a loved one has been injured on the property of another, please contact one of our skilled and experienced attorneys for a free consultation.
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