Slip, trip, and fall injuries can happen anytime, anywhere. Whether in a commercial or residential setting, hazards such as defective flooring, misplaced objects, spills, inadequate lighting, and uneven walkways can lead to serious bodily injury. Even though they can occur anywhere, slip, trip, and falls commonly occur in high traffic areas, such as:
Slips, trips, and falls are often grouped together, and for good reason. Victims of these incidents suffer many of the same kinds of serious injuries, and injuries resulting from slips, trips, and falls are governed by the same body of law in Texas. However, there are some key differences between slips, trips, and fall.
A slip generally occurs when there is not enough traction between a person’s foot or shoe and the surface they are walking on. A trip, meanwhile, usually occurs when a person’s foot makes contact with an object, or the individual encounters a sudden change in elevation, such as a curb. Trips typically cause the victim to fall forwards, while slips generally cause the victim to fall backwards. While falls typically occur after a slip or trip, falls can also occur when a person loses their balance for another reason, such as encountering an unexpected uneven surface or hole in the ground.
Because of the forces involved when a person falls to the ground, slip, trip, and fall victims commonly sustain significant injuries. Common slip, trip, and fall injuries include:
Slip, trip, and fall injuries are dangerous for all victims, but elderly victims are especially vulnerable. Among the most common injuries suffered by elderly trip, slip, and fall victims are hip fractures and broken bones. Recovering from these debilitating conditions becomes increasingly difficult as individuals age. Bones take much longer to heal and bouncing back can take a major toll on an elderly person’s body.
In many slip, trip, and fall cases, the property owner, or whoever controls the property, is the most likely responsible party. This is because under Texas law, the person who has control of the property has a legal duty to make sure the property is safe for people who enter the property. The extent of the legal duty owed by the person in control of the property depends on why the person injured is on the property in the first place.
Texas recognizes three categories of persons who enter another’s property:
Invitees – An invitee is a person who is on the property for the benefit of the property owner. Examples include customers at a supermarket, patrons at a restaurant, and shoppers at a mall. If you are an invitee, the property owner owes you a duty to exercise reasonable care to keep the property safe. In doing so, the property owner must warn you of any dangerous conditions he/she is either aware of, or reasonably should have been aware of. Out of the three categories of individuals, property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees.
Licensees – A licensee is a person who is on the property for their own benefit. Examples include friends, family, and other social guests. If you are a licensee, the only duty the property owner owes you is to disclose dangerous conditions he/she is aware of. Unlike the duty owed to an invitee, the property owner does not have a duty to make the property reasonably safe for a licensee.
Trespassers – A trespasser is a person who is on the property without permission. In this situation, the only duty a property owner owes to a trespasser is to do no intentional harm.
If you are injured in a slip, trip, and fall incident, it is important that you quickly get medical attention. If it is safe to do so, take pictures of the area where the incident happened, and secure the identity and contact information of any witnesses. You may be able to recover compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. Texas law requires that personal injury suits be filed within 2 years of the incident. It is critical to act fast to preserve evidence, because proving liability in slip, trip, and fall accidents frequently requires strong evidence that an unreasonably dangerous condition was at play. If you have questions about potentially making a slip, trip, and fall claim, call our experienced Austin Trip and Fall Attorneys.
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