Slip and Fall Injuries: Common Defenses — What You Should Know and How Carrollton Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help

Have you been injured in a slip-and-fall accident on someone else’s property in Texas? You’re not alone. Slips and falls are a serious issue, causing injuries that can significantly impact your daily life. According to a national survey, slips and falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States, accounting for over 8 million emergency room visits annually.

While you’re facing the physical, emotional, and financial burden of your injuries, focusing on recovery is crucial. Let The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare navigate the legal process of a premises liability claim so you can get back on your feet. Insurance companies will often raise defenses to avoid full responsibility, but with the right knowledge and legal team on your side, you can fight for the compensation you deserve.

This article explores some of the most common defenses property owners or insurers might use against your slip and fall claim in Texas, and what you can do to strengthen your case. 

Understanding Premises Liability Claims in Texas

Premises liability law applies when someone is injured on another person’s property due to a hazardous condition the property owner knew about or should have known about. Slips and falls are a common example of premises liability claims. In Texas, a “comparative negligence” system applies, meaning the court assigns a percentage of fault to both you and the property owner. To win your case, you’ll need to prove the property owner’s negligence was a major contributing factor to your accident. Here’s what this entails:

  • Duty of Care: The property owner owed you a duty of care, which means they had a responsibility to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. This duty varies depending on your legal status on the property (e.g., invitee, licensee, trespasser).
  • Breach of Duty: The property owner breached their duty of care by failing to address a dangerous condition or warn visitors about the hazard.
  • Causation: The breach of duty directly caused your slip and fall accident and new injuries or worsened pre-existing injuries.
  • Damages: Medical bills, lost wages, and damaged personal property are recoverable economic damages. Pain and suffering, impairments, and disfigurement are some of the more common recoverable non-economic damages. 

Common Defenses to a Slip and Fall Claim

Here are some of the most common defenses property owners or their insurers might use against your slip-and-fall claim in Texas:

  • Open and Obvious Hazard or Adequate Warning: The property owner might argue the hazard that caused your fall was “open and obvious” or that they provided adequate warning of the danger, meaning a reasonable person should have noticed and avoided it. This defense can be tricky. While some courts may dismiss a claim entirely based on this argument, others might consider whether the hazard was unavoidable despite its visibility.
  • Lack of Notice: The property owner might claim they had no prior notice of the dangerous condition. Texas law requires property owners to have either actual notice (they knew about the hazard) or constructive notice (the hazard existed for long enough that they should have known about it). Disputing the timeframe of the hazard’s existence can be a key point of contention. Essentially, the owner must have had an adequate amount of time to address the
  • Comparative Fault: The property owner might argue you share some blame for the accident. Perhaps you were distracted by your phone, wearing inappropriate footwear, or not paying attention to where you were walking. Texas’ comparative negligence system allows the court to assign a percentage of fault to each party. If you’re found more than 50% at fault, you won’t be eligible for any compensation. If you are found to be between 1 and 49.9% responsible, your recovery could be reduced by the proportionate amount.
  • Assumption of Risk: The property owner might claim you knowingly assumed the risk of injury by entering the property despite the presence of a hazard. This defense is typically used in specific situations, such as entering a construction zone or participating in a dangerous activity.
  • Independent Contractor Defense: If the dangerous condition was caused by the negligence of an independent contractor hired by the property owner, the owner might try to shift liability. However, this defense only applies under specific circumstances and doesn’t always absolve the property owner entirely.

Overcoming these defenses often hinges on having strong evidence to support your claim. Consider this scenario: Imagine walking into a store and slipping on a spilled drink that hadn’t been cleaned up. You suffer a broken wrist and are unable to work for weeks. Suddenly, you’re facing medical bills and lost wages on top of the pain from your injury. Unfortunately, the store claims they weren’t aware of the spill and that you should have been more careful. In this situation, evidence like witness statements or security camera footage can be pivotal in proving your case. 

Evidence to Strengthen Your Premises Liability Case

As previously mentioned, the best way to counter these defenses is to gather strong evidence that supports your claim. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Document the Scene: Take pictures or videos of the location of the fall, the dangerous condition that caused it, and any surrounding details.
  • Report the Accident: Report the accident to the property owner or management as soon as possible. Keep a copy of the report for your records.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Get a medical evaluation to document your injuries and establish a clear connection between the fall and your medical needs.
  • Gather Witness Information and Statements: If anyone witnessed your slip and fall, obtain their written statements describing what they saw. At the very least, obtain their name and contact information.
  • Consult an Attorney: An experienced personal injury attorney well-versed in premises liability claims can help you navigate the legal process, gather evidence, and build a strong case that addresses potential defenses raised by the property owner.
Slip and Fall Injuries: Common Defenses — What You Should Know and How Carrollton Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help

Don't Go It Alone: Secure Legal Help for Your Slip and Fall Case

If you’ve been injured recently in a slip and fall accident, The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare can help. Our experienced slip and fall attorneys, conveniently located in Carrollton and Dallas, understand the complexities of premises liability law and are dedicated to fighting for the compensation you deserve. We offer free no-obligation consultations to discuss your case and help you explore your legal options.

Contact The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare today to schedule an appointment.