Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler January 10, 2017

Security cameras on property and in parking garages are one of many items which help landlords become aware of unsafe conditions for visitors. Photo by sutichak (iStock by Getty Images)

In general, when you step on someone else’s property such as a store or its parking lot, the owner has a legal duty to ensure your safety. Sadly, such duties often are neglected, and innocent persons are injured or even killed as a result. Victims’ families have a legal right to claim payments for damages with a premises liability lawsuit.

What is Premises Liability?

As for what is premises liability, it involves a property landlord or owner’s responsibility for injuries suffered by persons on the property. When a defective or unsafe condition contributes to injuries, the landlord or owner is legally responsible for the costs involved.

Victims can file a premises liability lawsuit seeking payments for their losses, including medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Texas premises liability law holds that business owners can be held liable when injuries on their property are caused by a condition on the property or by a person on the scene.

Premises Liability for Criminal Acts

Indeed, though premises liability often can involve accidental injuries, such as a slip and fall accident, they also can involve criminal acts, especially when the property owner or landlord failed to provide proper safety precautions. Assaults, rapes, robberies and even murders can occur when property is unsafe for visitors.

For instance, many crimes have harmed persons on the huge parking lots of “big box” stores such as those of America’s largest retailer, Walmart.

There, poor lighting and lack of security cameras, security guards, security experts and security training for employees can make it easier for criminals to prey on persons in their cars or while walking to or from the store — or even in the store.

Last year, Tulsa, OK police were called to the city’s four Walmart stores almost 2,000 times — compared to 300 total calls to the city’s four Target stores. Also, a single Walmart store in Las Vegas, NV, was the target of almost 900 service calls to police in one year for crimes such as assault and battery and robbery.

In reviewing criminal cases on Walmart parking lots in West Virginia, Justice Larry Starcher of the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals called the sites a “virtual magnet for crime.”

Clearly, Walmart has a security problem — and it has the finances to correct it, with more than $500 million in annual global sales. Has Walmart acted sufficiently to correct security problems? The numbers don’t lie. Its security burden is left to local police to shoulder — and taxpayers to pay.

That doesn’t change premises liability law. Failure to provide a safe environment for persons on Walmart property constitutes premises liability for the store.

Other Premises Liability Sites, Situations

Other premises liability sites and situations include:

  • Tailgating party injuries on the property of an arena or stadium in connection with a sporting or entertainment event
  • Injuries at apartment buildings which are poorly maintained, including falls down unlighted stairways or falls caused by uneven pavement
  • Injuries in the workplace, as happened when three Church’s Chicken employees in Livingston, TX were badly burned in a kitchen fire last August

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Legal actions on behalf of victims killed on someone else’s property also can take the form of wrongful death lawsuits. That’s been the case since the recent Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland, CA, which claimed 36 lives. Wrongful death lawsuits have ensued.

Duty of Care

Property owners or landlords have a legal “duty of care” under premises liability laws. This duty pertains to who is on their property. Such persons generally are in one of three categories:

  • Invitees, or “business invitees,” who visit the property to do mutually beneficial business. This can include consumers shopping at stores or contract workers making repairs on a property.
  • Licensees, who are invited on the property without trading benefits with the owner. Houseguests are common licensees.
  • Trespassers, who go onto the property without the owner’s permission.

With invitees, property owners must protect them from unsafe conditions by inspecting property to pinpoint safety problems and either fixing such problems or alerting invitees about them.

With licensees, property owners must protect them by warning of dangers but are not required to inspect premises on their behalf and to fix problems immediately.

With trespassers, property owners are not required to fix unsafe conditions or alert trespassers about them.

Get a Premises Liability Lawyer, Lawsuit

If your family has suffered injury on someone else’s property due to the owner’s negligence or failure to heed their duty of care, alert a premises liability lawyer with Jim Adler & Associates today for a free case review. You may be legally entitled to substantial payments for your losses by means of a premises liability lawsuit.

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