FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIMS

DISCLOSURE STATEMENT:

The following should not be considered legal advice on your personal injury claim. For questions about your specific claim, you should consult with an attorney. The following information is based on the current premises liability laws for the State of Texas. Premises liability laws vary from state to state and are subject to change. You need to consult with an attorney licensed in the state where your accident happened for advice and information regarding your claim.

  1. What is a premises liability claim?
    A premises liability claim involves an injury on someone's property. These cases are often referred to as "slip and fall" claims. These cases include persons injured inside department stores, speciality stores, restaurants, grocery stores, banks, hospitals, and other buildings open to the public. These claims also include injuries that happen outside a building such as a sidewalk, parking lot, common area, stairs, elevator, or on the grounds of the building or property.
  2. If I am injured on someone's property is the property owner responsible for my injuries and damages?
    Whether a property owner, landlord, or tenant is responsible for your injuries or damages will depend on whether the owner or occupier (i.e., tenant) was negligent. Negligence occurs when the owner or occupier of the property breaches a duty owed to the person on their property. This duty varies depending on what the injured person's status was at the time of the injury. If you were injured in a store or business open to the public during business hours, then you are considered an "invitee". If you are an invitee, the property owner is negligent if they knew or should have known that a dangerous hazard and/or condition existed on their property and failed to warn you or failed to remove the hazard and/or condition in a timely manner. You need to consult with an attorney to determine your exact status on the property and the duty owed to you.
  3. Who will pay for my medical expenses?
    The property owner or occupier is responsible for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses incurred as a direct result of your injury. This obligation is usually triggered when the owner or occupier of the property was negligent or otherwise liable for your injury. These claims are suppose to be paid under the owner's or occupier's liability policy with their insurance company. Some stores and business, however, are self-insured. This means that the store or business does not have traditional insurance but rather pays for claims out of their own funds. PLEASE NOTE THAT UNDER TEXAS LAW YOU CAN ONLY RECOVER THE AMOUNT OF MEDICAL BILLS INCURRED OR PAID BY YOU OR ON YOUR BEHALF.
  4. If the store is not liable or negligent, then how do I pay for my medical bills?
    Some businesses and property owners carry Med-Pay coverage. This is no-fault insurance that will pay for medical expenses only when someone is injured on the property regardless of fault. This means the insurance company for the owner or occupier of the property will pay your medical expenses even if there is no proof the property owner or occupier was negligent or otherwise liable for your injury. Please note that in the event that you have a liability claim, the insurance company will get a credit (reduction) for any amount it paid under Med-Pay. The policy limits for Med-Pay coverage vary. Most policies are less than $10,000.00. You will need to ask the adjuster handling your claim whether or not there is Med-Pay coverage and what the policy limits are. If there is no Med-Pay and if you are unable to prove that the property owner or occupier was negligent for your injury, then you will be solely responsible for your medical expenses.
  5. If I was injured but I do not have any insurance or any other means to pay for medical treatment, then how do I get the treatment I need?
    Most attorneys can assist you in getting medical care for most types of treatment, testing, etc., under what is called a letter of protection (LOP). This is a letter from the attorney essentially promising to pay the medical provider from any settlement or verdict, assuming there is a sufficient recovery in your case. This LOP may allow you to get the medical treatment you desperately need while your claim is pending. Please note that unexplained gaps in treatment could adversely affect your claim. If you have no other alternative, you can always treat at a county hospital and/or clinic in the county where you reside, e.g., Parkland in Dallas County and John Peter Smith in Tarrant County. These county hospitals are specifically intended to treat persons who do not have any means to pay for medical treatment. Your failure to seek treatment can adversely affect your case and more importantly your health.
  6. I have reported my injury to the store, is there anything else I should do?
    Most people assume that since they were injured in the store or on the property that the owner or occupier will pay for their injuries and damages. Unfortunately this is not true. Unless there is Med-Pay coverage, the insurance company will only pay your claim if the property owner or occupier was negligent. In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove that the owner or occupier knew or should have known about the hazard. For example, if you slip on something on the floor of a store, then you will have to prove either that the store knew it was on the floor before you fell or you will have to prove what you slipped on and how long it was there before you fell. You need to get the name and telephone number of any and all witnesses including other customers and employees. Most people are so embarrassed when they fall or they are in so much pain or shock that they do not ask witnesses for their names and telephone numbers. If this happens to you, then you may want to go back to the store and look for the customer or employee and get their name and telephone number. Time is of the essence in these claims. Insurance companies routinely instruct employees of stores, etc., not to cooperate or give statements. This means you only have a few days or possibly a few weeks to get witness statements from employees before the insurance company gets involved. You should consult with an attorney as soon as possible if you need help getting witness statements.

Please feel free to call me at 1-800-275-6720 (in Texas only) or 214-739-3800, to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim. See the "Contact Us" section for more information about contacting our office.