Fatal Premises Accidents
Was your loved one killed because of a defect in another person or business’s property? If so, you may have multiple options to pursue compensation for your and your deceased loved one’s injuries.
In Texas, when a family member’s death is the result of negligence, surviving loved ones may have the right to bring a wrongful death or survival claim. However, when these issues arise due to premises liability, the case can become complicated. Premises liability is a complex area of law, and whether an owner or occupier was negligent toward your loved one depends on a number of factors.
A Texas Wrongful Death Claim
If you lost a loved one in an accident on someone else’s property due to the landowner or occupier’s negligence, then you may have the right to bring a wrongful death claim for compensation. This legal claim is to recover compensation for your injuries, not the harm suffered by your loved one.
Texas law entitles spouses, parents, or children to file a legal claim based on a loved one’s death caused by carelessness, recklessness, deceit, or an intentional wrongful act. If you can prove negligence, then you may be able to recover:
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of your loved one’s financial contributions
- Loss of inheritance
- Mental anguish
- Loss of support
A Texas Survival Claim
You may be able to bring the legal claim your loved one would have had a right to file had they lived. Based on the Texas Survival Statute, a decedent’s heir or representative may file the negligence claim, which in a sense survives the person’s death. This means you may be able to move forward with a personal injury claim to gain compensation for your loved one’s medical costs, physical pain, and mental anguish between the time of the accident and their death. The only limitation is that you are not entitled to gain your loved one’s lost future income.
Proving Negligence in Fatal Premises Cases
If you decide to move forward with either a wrongful death or survival claim, or both, then you will have to prove the property owner or occupier was negligent toward your loved one, resulting in their death. To be negligent means that an individual did not uphold a legal duty toward another person. Therefore, in order to prove negligence against the landowner or occupier, you will need to prove that owner or occupier had a duty toward your loved one and violated that duty.
Under Texas premises liability law, property owners and occupiers owe a duty of care to both invitees and licensees. Invitees are individuals who have permission to be on the land and are there for both their and the owner’s mutual benefit, such as business customers. Licensees are individuals who have consent to be on a property though they are there for their personal benefit or the benefit of someone other than the owner, like party goers. For these types of guests, an owner or occupier needs to keep their premises in a safe condition, including finding defects and repairing concealed dangers.
When Owners and Occupiers May Not be Liable
There are certain circumstances under which the owner or occupier of a property would not be held liable for compensating you for your loved one’s death, including if:
- Your family member trespassed. Landowners and occupiers in Texas are not usually liable for the deaths of trespassers, which includes anyone who did not have implied or explicit consent to be on the property. They cannot intentionally harm trespassers or be grossly negligent in maintaining the property. However, they do not have to fix hidden defects to protect those who may come onto their land without permission. If you are unsure of whether your loved one had permission to be on the property at the time of the accident, contact an experienced Houston premises liability attorney as soon as possible.
- An open or obvious condition led to your loved one’s death. The owners or occupiers of a property may not be liable for you loved one’s death if the incident was caused by an open and obvious danger. A condition is considered open and obvious if it can be seen by an adult who should have the wherewithal to realize the condition is potentially dangerous and should be avoided.
- Your family member was more than 51 percent responsible for the incident. Under Texas’ modified comparative negligence rule, an owner or occupier is not responsible for compensating an individual injured on their property if that individual was 51 percent or more responsible for the accident.
How Our Houston Premises Liability Lawyers Can Help
If you lost a loved one in a fatal premises accident, contact us at The Krist Law Group, P.C. right away. We have the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to pursue recovering compensation for your loss. We understand the ins and outs of premise liability law, as well as Texas’ wrongful death and survival statutes. Whatever your situation, we can review your options and guide you through the necessary legal process.
Do not hesitate to call our Houston premises liability lawyers at 281-283-8500 to schedule a free consultation.