REAL FACTS ABOUT PREMISES LIABILITY
From Jonathan C. Juhan, Attorney At Law
This section explains important aspects of the law of premises liability. These cases include events where someone is injured due to the condition of another person's property.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding about the law of premises liability. When a person slips or trips and falls on the property of a business, or a private residence, is there a right to file suit and collect damages? Many people believe these are easy cases to win, when they actually are very difficult. It is very important that you hire a local Board Certified Trial Lawyer who has experience handling these cases. You need an attorney like Jonathan Juhan who has successfully handled premises liability case against refineries, stores, and businesses. You need a local lawyer who knows the local insurance adjusters, local courts, and local attorneys, so that he or she can maximize your recovery. Jonathan Juhan has been successfully handling premise liability cases for 14 years. He will personally talk with you or your loved one about your case. You need to know that premises liability cases are:
DIFFICULT TO PROVE
Premises liability cases are difficult to prove. To win, the injury person must prove:
1. The owner or occupier of the premises knew or should have known of a dangerous condition on his property; AND
2. The owner or occupier was negligent in failing to remove the condition; AND
3. That negligence probably caused the injured person's injuries or damages.
Negligence occurs when a premises owner or occupier fails to exercise ordinary care for the safety of others. Unless the owner or occupier knows of the existence of a dangerous condition, he cannot be held responsible for it being present. The one exception is where it can be proved he should have known of the condition. It is often impossible to prove how long a dangerous condition (such as a spill in a grocery store) was present, or that any employee of the store knew about the spill. As a result, many premises liability cases are lost. This is often difficult for people to accept, in light of their expectations about safety, and the responsibility of business owners.
COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE AS A DEFENSE
In a personal injury lawsuit, a jury can find the injured person was also negligent. In premises liability cases, it is often difficult to overcome the argument that a person is responsible for looking where he or she is walking. Many insurance companies are successful in limiting or denying an injured person's recovery on this basis. In Texas, if the plaintiff and defendant are both negligent, the jury finds a percentage of fault for each party. If a plaintiff is more than 50% at fault, he cannot recover any damages. A finding of 50% fault or less on the part of a plaintiff will reduce the plaintiff's recovery.
Punitive Damages can be sought if the Defendant acted with "malice," which means the Defendant either (1) intended to cause injury or (2) knew his conduct created an extreme risk of severe injury and acted with conscious indifference to that risk. Malice is very difficult to prove, and many punitive damage awards are reversed by courts of appeal.
EXPENSIVE TO LITIGATE
Litigation requires a significant investment of time and money; an attorney may spend several thousand dollars preparing a case for trial. Because these cases are expensive, and often difficult to win, many premises liability cases are not prosecuted.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Texas has a two (2) year statute of limitations in tort actions. All suits not filed by two (2) years from your date of injury (usually, the date of the accident) are barred forever. Texas law also requires written notice of a claim must be given to governmental units, often within 90 days to six months of an event. Failure to give proper notice may result in a claim being lost. Limited exceptions to these rules may affect the rights of minors. However, these rules are extremely complex, and most of the deadlines are strictly construed. Should you wish to pursue a premises liability case, you should discuss these deadlines with Jonathan Juhan as soon as possible.
CONTINGENT FEES ONLY
Jonathan Juhan only handles these types of cases on a pure contingent fee basis. The attorney's fee is a percentage of the recovery (usually one third to 40%), and no fees or expenses are ever charged or collected unless your case is won or settled.
I hope this information helps you understand more about Premises Liability cases, and what is involved in any effort to prosecute and win a case in this area of the law. I look forward to meeting with you or your loved ones to discuss your case. Please call me or e-mail me if you have any questions. Thank you in advance for your business.