A resident of a Houston Housing Authority apartment complex filed suit against Tarantino Properties Inc., which manages the property. In the suit, resident Angela Carter alleged that under the legal theory of premises liability, property management should have known about an improperly installed light fixture that subsequently fell and cut her wrist. Experienced premises liability defense lawyers know that these cases often aren’t what they seem.
In order for a premises liability claim to have merit, however, the owner of the property must be aware of a dangerous condition and fail to appreciate its dangers. This danger must be seen or appreciated during the course of a reasonable inspection by the property owner. In the case of Ms. Carter’s suit, the Texas First Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court’s ruling against her, as it determined the danger could not have been anticipated during a visual inspection, thus, the property owners could not be held liable for any injuries sustained.
Why Tarantino Properties Inc. Won the Premises Liability Lawsuit
A business or property owner is responsible for ensuring reasonable care is taken of the property and all buildings, infrastructure, grounds, and any other physical elements on the property. If the owner is proven negligent in a premises liability lawsuit, the costs can be significant; however, the plaintiff must prove the following in their case in order to recover damages:
- Defendant had constructive knowledge of some condition on the premises;
- The condition posed an unreasonable risk of harming someone;
- Defendant did not exercise reasonable care to reduce or eliminate the risk;
- Defendant’s failure to reduce or eliminate the risk caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
In Ms. Carter’s case, her own testimony indicated the condition – a single nail affixing the light fixture’s base to the wall – was concealed, therefore preventing a visual inspection from detecting the potential for harm. As the defendant could not reasonably have constructive knowledge of the condition, the plaintiff did not have a valid premises liability claim against the company.
Types of Premises Liability Claims
A variety of claims can be made by a resident, tenant, or visitor of property, with slip and fall accidents being one of the most common types of accidents resulting in a lawsuit. Additional premises liability claims may include:
- Inadequate maintenance of the premises
- Unsafe stairwells or porches
- Elevator or escalator malfunctions and/or accidents
- Unsecured swimming pools
- Defective construction
- Lack of security resulting in injury or assault
Premises Liability Lawyers
MehaffyWeber’s premises liability defense lawyers have broad experience defending businesses of all sizes in matters involving premises liability and personal injury claims. The firm’s lawyers have handled significant cases throughout Texas. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced attorneys.