Getting injured can cause significant disruptions to your life. You may feel physical and emotional pain, you could lose money by missing work to recover, and your treatments can lead to overwhelming medical debt.
Accidents can happen to anyone, but if your injury was caused by a land or business owner’s gross negligence, you may have legal remedies available to you. A Houston commercial property premises liability lawyer could provide you with support and guidance as you explore your options and, should you choose to move forward with a premises liability lawsuit, your attorney could help you navigate the courts and fight for you to receive the compensation you deserve.
Commercial Property Liability Laws
Laws that govern property liability are state-specific, and several factors can influence which laws apply to any given case, such as the land’s classification as private versus commercial. In Texas, commercial premises can be divided further depending on the type of business that occupies the land. Liability limitations may differ if the land is agricultural, recreational, or government-owned as outlined in Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 75.002.
In general, commercial landowners, occupants, and lessees are not liable when the injured person was trespassing on the land at the time they were hurt. Per Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 75.007, a person trespasses whenever they enter someone else’s land without express or implied permission. State laws generally do not require a duty of care to trespassers. However, even if a person is invited onto the property or is otherwise there legally, the business owners and operators do not have to guarantee their premises are safe. In most cases, they are not required to provide a level of care to someone there lawfully above what they are required to provide to someone who is there unlawfully. A Houston commercial property premises liability attorney could provide more information how liability works in these cases.
State Laws Governing Compensation
Texas does not typically place a cap on economic damages, so an injured person may be able to collect the total amount of their injury-related expenses. There is an exception for injuries that occur during recreational activities on agricultural land, however. Under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 75.004, there may be monetary limits on damages for personal injuries and destruction of property that occur during activities such as swimming, hiking, or hunting while on some farmlands.
Gross Negligence and Malice
Texas commercial premises liability is typically limited to injuries sustained by acts of gross negligence or malicious intent, and, in some cases “bad faith.”
One of the most common claims for commercial property liability is gross negligence. Gross negligence has a higher bar than standard negligence. Whereas “negligence” occurs when a person owes a certain degree of care to someone else, fails to maintain that level of care, and causes someone to be injured as a result of that carelessness, as the court explained in Rodriguez-Escobar v. Goss (Tex. 2013).
The court differentiates “negligence” from “gross negligence” by the level of carelessness involved. Instead of applying when a person fails to provide a legally required level of care, gross negligence applies to cases where the defendant’s actions were extremely risky, the risks were disproportionate to any potential benefits, and the defendant was aware of the extreme risks but proceeded anyway.
Other commercial property liability claims arise from malice, or malicious intent, as defined by Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 41.001. Essentially, this means that the defendant purposefully injured someone, as opposed to injuring someone by acting recklessly in an attempt to achieve a different purpose. A Houston attorney could help determine whether malice or gross negligence were present in a particular commercial property premises liability case.
Speak with a Houston Commercial Property Liability Attorney
It can be difficult to sort through the codes and statutes that apply to your personal injury claims. Citing the wrong laws or overlooking key differences in property classifications could hurt your case and cost you the compensation you deserve.
To determine whether you have a case, speak with a Houston commercial property premises liability lawyer. An experienced local attorney could help you understand which laws apply to the circumstances of your case and could assist you each step of the way as you move forward. Working with a professional who knows the nuances of the state’s laws could strengthen your legal argument to improve the outcome of your case.