Jason Stephens | September 14, 2023 | Slip and Fall Accidents
If you suffer a slip and fall accident in your friend’s home, will you have to drive them into bankruptcy to obtain compensation? In Texas, you probably won’t, at least if your friend carries homeowners insurance. You might have other compensation options as well.
Premises Liability Negligence Claims
The owner or occupier of the property where you suffered your slip and fall accident is responsible for making reasonable efforts to ensure your safety. This principle is known as premises liability. To win a negligence claim based on premises liability, you must prove the following facts:
- You were lawfully present on the property at the time of the accident. Only under unusual circumstances, such as certain intentional torts, can a trespasser hold a homeowner liable for an injury.
- The property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition associated with your injury (a broken stairway railing, for example).
- The owner did not repair the dangerous condition, even though a “reasonable person” would have repaired it under the circumstances.
- You suffered an injury.
- But for the homeowner’s negligence, you would not have suffered your injury (“cause in fact”).
- Given the fact of the homeowner’s negligence, your injuries must have been a reasonably foreseeable consequence (proximate cause).
You must prove all of these facts on a more likely than not (“preponderance of the evidence”) basis.
Under most circumstances, your best chance of securing full compensation for a slip and fall accident in a private home is to file a third-party claim against their homeowners insurance policy. The question is whether the policy will cover your claim. Following are some considerations that might affect the existence or value of your claim.
Carefully read the terms of the defendant’s policy. They probably won’t object to this, since the alternative to a valid homeowners insurance policy will probably be you seeking money out of their pocket.
The Defendant’s State of Mind
The defendant’s state of mind is relevant to liability.
Was the homeowner negligent? If they left a pair of roller skates at the top of a stairwell, the answer is probably yes. If you fell off your neighbor’s porch while intoxicated, by contrast, the negligence might be your own. A third alternative is that you and the property owner might share liability.
Gross negligence means extreme negligence. If the defendant’s behavior constituted gross negligence, you might qualify for punitive damages.
You might seek punitive damages if, say, the owner intentionally “booby-trapped” their property against trespassers, for example. This is one of the rare circumstances under which trespassers can seek personal injury damages against property owners.
Policy Exclusions and Limitations
Following are some examples of possible policy exclusions and limitations:
- The accident location: Your neighbor’s policy might not cover accidents that occur in the backyard, for example, or far from the house.
- Deductible: The policy might impose a deductible. The deductible might add up to as much as $1,000.
- Policy limits: If your claim is large, policy limits might prevent you from receiving a full recovery.
- Your identity: The owner’s homeowners policy might exclude you if you are a member of their household.
Speak with your lawyer about other possible exclusions.
If the defendant rents rather than owns the premises upon which you were injured, they may carry renter’s insurance. Indeed, their landlord might require this. The terms of their insurance policy may cover liability to people injured on their property, such as you.
A Lawyer Might Look at Your Claim Differently Than You Do
Not every possible slip and fall claim is worth pursuing. Likewise, not every claim is worth a six-figure settlement. Talk to a personal injury lawyer about your case to get a realistic assessment of its true value. Most personal injury lawyers will be happy to schedule you a free initial consultation. If necessary, they can even meet you in the hospital.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Fort Worth, TX
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth and need legal help, contact our Fort Worth personal injury lawyers at Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents to schedule a free consultation.
Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
1300 S University Dr # 300
Fort Worth, TX 76107