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What to expect in your invitee premises liability case

Texas is often referred to as a "business-friendly state." Depending on your perspective, that can mean lots of good or bad things. But it's safe to say that most people agree Texas can be very aggressive in promoting a legal environment designed to allow businesses to flourish.

But there are limits to what businesses are able to do to customers and get away with it. You might not know the chapter and verse of where in Texas's laws it says businesses cannot dump nuclear waste into waterways, but you'd rightly assume that there are plenty of laws against such activity. Similarly, Texas courts allow customers of businesses to sue when they get hurt or lose a loved one on the business's property. As we discussed in our Overview---and be sure to click here to read our Comprehensive Guide to Premises Liability---the mere act of getting hurt on a business doesn't mean the injured party can hold the owner responsible.

Instead, we address the following questions:

  • What law lets you sue a business after you get hurt?
  • If my child, parent, or spouse died at a business, what are my rights?
  • What does a premises lawsuit look like?

The law behind suing property owners

Let's start with a basic premise: we don't want people getting injured for no reason. Laws to protect people like you and me aren't just there in the hopes that after a big accident you'll 1) be able to recover some money, but also 2) stop the bad behavior before it even starts. Keep those two goals in mind.

When you or a loved one is on someone else's property for the property owner's benefit, the law holds the property owner to a high standard of protecting you. Why? Because even though we want businesses to succeed, we first want them to actively make sure that their store, building, or what have you is actually safe. That doesn't seem like a lot to ask of a company.

These cases are often mixtures of statutory and negligence claims. "Statutory" means a specific law passed by the Texas legislature or some regulatory body. "Negligence" is a broad standard that courts themselves impose on all of us to essentially abide by a reasonable standard in our dealings. (For more on negligence, click here.) Your lawyer will not only need to be able to explain why the business failed to behave reasonably, but also quite familiar with numerous building, health and safety, and workplace codes and regulations. He will need to be able to explain to the court exactly what the business did wrong, and why that misbehavior caused your accident.

If you've lost a loved one at someone's business, you may be entitled to compensation

After these accidents, the first impulse many feel is to have the business "shut down." Sometimes, this happens. But while that may feel like a moral victory, at the end of the day, it's not enough. When someone is killed on a business's property, their spouse, children, and parents can file a suit for what they've lost. Premises accident victims can seek compensation for the "hard money" damages like lost income, medical bills, and funeral expenses. But the law also to money for the mental and emotional suffering they've endured as a result of losing a loved one after as a result of a building owner's negligence.

To get this compensation for you, you need an attorney who's got the experience needed to convince a jury not only that you have suffered, but more importantly, the full extent of your suffering.

The process of filing an invitee premises liability lawsuit

Briefly, the process of litigating these cases works as follows

  • Your attorney investigates the case. You'll want him to know as much about what happened before he files suit. This will involve looking into publicly-available documents, company history of the potential defendants, and perhaps a visit on-site.
  • The lawsuit will get drafted and filed. Your lawyer will need to draft a "complaint" or "petition," as they're called, that formally invokes the power of the court to start the process. This is no small task, as it must allege facts that comply with the complexities of court procedure particular to invitee cases.
  • Then, the lawsuit really swings into action. The parties exchange information in the "discovery" process about witnesses, facts they know, and relevant documents. Witnesses are placed under oath in depositions and asked what they know about the accident, how the business was run, and any prior events like this that happened.
  • As your premises liability case matures, the parties may try to reach a settlement. If not, the case goes to trial.

Premises liability cases against businesses on behalf of invitees require lawyers with a reservoir of past successes to draw upon. If you've been hurt or lost a loved one on a business's property, call the experienced attorneys at Grossman Law Offices today.