Corpus Christi Premises Liability Law Firm
When you enter a shopping center, doctor’s office, or any place of business, you expect you are entering a safe area. Landlords owe a reasonable duty of care to ensure you are not injured because of unsafe conditions caused by wet floors, torn or ragged carpet or flooring, or because of stairs which are in poor repair. These hazards, when not addressed, can cause injuries ranging from mild to very serious. That’s when you’ll want The Patel Firm PLLC to step in and help you recover compensation to help pay for your injuries.
The experienced Corpus Christi Personal Injury Lawyers at The Patel Firm can walk you through the legal process and answer any questions you may have.
Understanding Unsafe Conditions and Negligence
Everyone knows when it is wet and rainy outside, we need to use additional caution when entering any public building. Building owners and tenants nearly always place warning signs which state there is a wet floor so most of us are aware we need to use additional caution. However, if an owner or tenant fails to correct defects such as worn carpet or tile, broken handrails, or other conditions which can cause a hazard, they may be acting negligently.
Property owners and tenants owe a duty of care to those with whom they are doing business. We understand when a bottle of pickles falls off a shelf at a supermarket the owner or manager of the store cannot be responsible for the spill unless they leave it there for several hours without cleaning it or putting up a warning sign. However, if a store has been cited numerous times for unsafe conditions and you are injured, they may be held liable under Texas negligence statutes.
Defining Duty of Care
In legal terms, duty of care means “a requirement that a person act toward others and the public with the watchfulness, attention, caution and prudence that a reasonable person in the circumstances would use.” This means the first determination you must make after being injured on someone’s property is if the owner failed in that duty of care.
The person or entity who owns or controls a property should repair a handrail that broke within a reasonable amount of time. If the failure to repair is not reasonable, it could rise to the level of negligence. If you fall down the stairs because of the lack of a handrail and break your leg, injure your back, or suffer a head or neck injury, the property owner could be liable for the associated bills.
Steps to Proving Premises Liability
If you are injured on someone’s property, there are certain questions you can ask yourself to determine if the owner of the property is liable. These include:
- Was there a dangerous condition on the property?
- Should the owner have known about the condition?
- Were you injured as a result of the condition?
- Did the owner fail to correct the condition before your injury?
If the answers to these questions are all positive, chances are the property owner could be held liable for your injuries.
Serious Injury Can Result from Unsafe Conditions
The range of injuries someone can suffer as a result of unsafe conditions on a property vary greatly. Someone who falls down a flight of stairs could suffer from broken bones, back or neck injuries, or traumatic brain injury. Victims who slip and fall on a wet floor often suffer trauma to their head when it hits the floor which could result in a concussion. The more serious the fall, the higher the probability of a very serious injury.
Premises Liability Pertains to Other Types of Cases
While most premises liability cases pertain to slip and fall accidents, or accidents caused by poorly maintained facilities, there are other types of personal injury cases which may also be considered under premises liability laws. The other two types of premises liability cases generally involve third parties—these cases are called negligent activity and negligent undertaking, and while they fall under premises liability, you will want a personal injury lawyer to explain what they mean.
Negligent Activity Cases Are Premises Liability
Negligent activity occurs when a claim is filed against a business because the victim was injured as a result of something one of their employees did while the victim was in their facility. An example of this could be you a contractor is working on a machine and an employee is operating a forklift and strikes you causing injury.
While the employee caused the injury, the person who runs the company could be liable for their action. This would occur in situations where the operator of the forklift was poorly trained, or the forklift was improperly maintained and unable to stop safely.
Negligent Undertaking Cases
When a landlord rents out property, there are often clauses contained in their leases where they agree to provide certain maintenance to the property to ensure safety. In these cases, if a tenant notices a potentially hazardous situation on the property, they would likely notify the landlord. Once this notification has been made, the landlord has an obligation to act upon the complaint and take steps to address the unsafe condition.
Let’s assume the problem is carpet on a stairwell that has become unsecure. The tenant of the building notifies the landlord and several weeks later while you are in the building you trip on the carpeting and fall down the stairs. In these cases, the landlord could be liable for your injuries because they were informed of the unsafe condition, failed to act upon the condition, and as a result of the unsafe condition, you suffered an injury.
The High Cost of Medical Care in Corpus Christi
Residents in the Corpus Christi Texas area have a wealth of options when considering where to seek medical care. However, like other areas who offer world-class options for health care, the cost of obtaining such care can be steep. Simple X-rays to determine if you have broken a bone can cost as much as $225 for each limb examined. Rehabilitation costs, when needed can cost as much as $20,000 for 14 days of inpatient services. These costs are very high, but if you have suffered an injury, you may not have any options if you want to repair the damage.
Medical Costs May Only Scratch the Surface
Depending on how severe your injury is, you may be forced to remain out of work during the time you are recovering from an accidental fall. You may also have other costs such as pain medications, repeat visits to the doctor, numerous x-rays to evaluate how a broken bone is healing and more. These costs can add up rapidly, particularly when you are unable to work. Because you should remain focused on healing from your physical injuries, you need to identify someone who can advocate on your behalf to secure a financial settlement from the parties responsible for your injuries.
Seven Steps to Take Following an Injury
When you suffer an injury on someone else’s property, there are certain steps you should take to help ensure you have the necessary information to file an insurance claim. You should:
- Step 1: Be sure you are safe and contact emergency services. Wait for them to arrive. If you are too seriously injured to make the call yourself, make sure someone does it on your behalf.
- Step 2: Depending on your mobility, it is helpful if you take photographs of the area where you suffered the injury. If you are unable to do so, ask someone to do this for you. For example, if you feel coming down a flight of stairs because of ragged carpet or a broken handrail, make sure you capture images of the damaged area. The more photos you have in most cases, the better.
- Step 3: Information gathering is an important step. The names and proper contact information for anyone who was in the area when you suffered an injury could be invaluable later if you file a claim. Anyone who was present when the incident happened could be a potential witness to the problem that facilitated the accident.
- Step 4: Notify the property owner of your accident. Make sure you explain where you were injured and provide your name and contact information. Do not offer any unnecessary information because it may be used later by the responsible person’s insurance company to diminish the extent of your injuries. Be very careful about suggesting you are “feeling fine”, instead let the property owner know you will be seeking medical attention.
- Step 5: Seek medical attention immediately even if emergency services does not transport you to a medical facility. Whether you elect to see your own physician, or you go to the closest emergency facility, make sure you are checked out thoroughly. Once you have been examined, you want to follow all orders received from the doctor.
- Step 6: Record your recollection of the accident as soon as you can. This is important because in most cases, your memory will be most vivid immediately following the accident. Make note of the reason you were on the premises, what you were doing immediately before the accident, and any observations you made immediately before your injury. This information may be valuable later.
- Step 7: Documentation is an important part of filing a personal injury claim. This means you should save any bills you incur as a result of your injury, even those which seem to be incidental. Any correspondence you receive from the insurance company, accident reports, or anything else that references the accident should be carefully filed in a safe place.
Determining Potential Compensation for Injuries
Many factors go into determining how substantial a claim you may submit to an insurance company if you were injured on someone’s property. Every person is different—a young person who is in prime health may recover faster from an injury than someone who is older, or not in as good physical condition. Therefore, it is not possible to determine the value of any case without getting a full understanding of the situation which caused your injury, the extent of your injury, or the length of time it will take for you to recover.
Most people can collect both monetary and non-monetary losses for their injuries. Monetary losses include time lost from work, and costs associated with medical treatment. The costs of your medical treatment would encompass any treatment you need which is associated with the injury including prescriptions for pain, doctor visits, tests which may be run to establish the severity of an injury, rehabilitation costs during recovery, and visits with specialists or surgical procedures. This is one of the reasons it is critical you maintain a complete record of any medical bills you receive.
Non-monetary damages may also be awarded to victims when they file a claim. These damages can include mental anguish, embarrassment, worsening of prior injuries, or pain and suffering. These damages can vary significantly between cases. In cases where a reasonable settlement cannot be reached between victims and insurance companies and a personal injury case winds up being litigated through the courts, a victim may also be awarded punitive damages.
Victims who suffer an injury on someone’s property often are unaware of the steps they can take to recover damages. Remember that insurance company adjusters are seldom looking out for your best interests. In all cases. An adjuster works for an insurer: This means they are committed to providing information which lets the insurance company off the hook for your claim. You may get several phone calls from the insurance company, many of them encouraging you to accept a settlement. Remember that when an insurer offers you a high settlement, they believe they are going to get hit with a higher settlement if they go to court. Even if you think the insurance company is dealing in good faith, have a premises liability lawyer make sure you ask the right questions and understand any waivers they ask you to sign.
Call the Corpus Christi Premises Liability Attorneys at The Patel Firm PLLC
Chances are you have several questions and concerns after you are injured on someone’s property. If you have questions regarding questions from the insurance company, need to know what steps you should take as you start on your path to recovery, or need to understand your rights, the Corpus Christi personal injury attorneys at The Patel Firm PLLC can address those concerns during a free case evaluation.To set up an appointment with us, just call (361) 400-2036 or write to us using our contact page.