Legal Elements of a Premises Liability Case

Legal Elements of a Premises Liability Case

When someone is injured on the property of another person, they may have an action against the property owner or occupier under Premises Liability. A “premises” is real property and all the structures on it.

Our Houston Premises Liability Attorneys has handled a wide variety of Premises Liability cases, including:

  • Death in an Apartment Fire
  • Missing Handrails Injury
  • Death of a Construction Worker
  • Tripping Over a Speed Bump
  • ATV Death of a Boy at Apts.
  • Slip, Trip & Fall
  • Severe Train Injury to a Boy/Missing Fence
  • Dog Bites
  • Store Injuries
  • Unsafe Rental Property

Plaintiff’s Burden of Proof

To have a successful Premises Liability case, one must prove a number of elements.

These are the plaintiff’s Burden of Proof:

  • A condition existed on the property that posed an unreasonable risk of harm.
  • The property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition.
  • The owner could have anticipated that a visitor might discover the danger and not protect themselves.
  • The owner negligently (recklessly, carelessly) failed to repair the condition.
  • That negligence caused someone to suffer harm and loss.

Kinds of Visitors

The elements of each Premises Liability case can differ, however, depending on what type of visitoris on the premises. There are three kinds of visitors to another’s property in Premises Liability – an Invitee, a Licensee, and a Trespasser.


An Invitee has an invitation, express or implied, to visit the property for mutual business or commercial reasons. These include store/mall customers, employees and commercial suppliers/distributors. An Invitee is owed the highest duty (level) of care. For an Invitee, a property owner or occupier must regularly inspect his property and make any necessary repairs, or warn the Invitee of a dangerous condition.


A Licensee also has an invitation, express or implied, onto the property, but is owed a lesser level of care by the owner. A Licensee is on the property for non-commercial purposes, and would include people like a door-to-door salesman, an off-duty employee or a social guest, such as a neighbor coming over for tea. For a Licensee, the owner must keep the premises “reasonably safe” and warn of any known dangers.


A Trespasser is owed the lowest level of care by an owner, as he is on the property without invitation. The owner must do him no harm and warn him of any hazardous conditions that could cause death or serious bodily injury. A child Trespasser, like a child retrieving his cat from a neighbor’s yard, is owed a higher duty of care because of his age and level of discernment.

What is a Reasonably Safe Manner?

As you see above, the property owner or occupier is required to keep his premises in a “reasonably safe” manner.

That reasonably safe manner depends on the following factors:

  • Whether the accident could be anticipated by the property owner.
  • What the property’s intended use is.
  • How the visitor gained access to the property (Invitee, etc.)
  • Whether the property owner made a reasonable effort to repair damage or warn visitors.

Even if all above elements are proven, however, your claim may be limited by defenses like Assumption of Risk, Modified Comparative Fault, or Sophisticated User. Premises Liability insurance coverage like Worker’s Comp or Homeowner’s Insurance might affect your recovery as well. Insurance companies may try to rush you into a quick and inadequate settlement.

Clearly, Premises Liability law can be complex, with multiple kinds of visitors, defenses, insurance claims, elements to prove, etc. Joe I. Zaid & Associates specializes in handling these kind of legal issues and has the contacts and financial backing to pursue your case as long as necessary to get you justice and a fair settlement. We have the skill and qualifications to counter any defenses or insurance coverage to get you the money you need for things like medical bills, lost income, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering. We’ve won more than 1,000 cases and millions of dollars for our clients. So call us oday toll-free for a free initial consultation, and we’ll come visit YOU to discuss your Premises Liability case.