If I am injured at someone's home or place of business, do I have a way to get my medical bills paid? What if I am unable to work? Can I be compensated for my time off work; for my pain and suffering? What is the law that covers this sort of thing?
Whenever you are injured on someone else's premises, you must first determine the reason you were there. Under Texas law, there are three class of persons when it comes to "premise liability" claims.
BUSINESS INVITEE First, there are "invitees". These are persons who are on the premise for some business purpose where there is an equal benefit to both the injured person and the owner of the premise. For instance, if you are shopping in a store, there is a business purpose for you to be there. If you are visiting your lawyer or doctor's office, you have a business purpose for being there. This makes you a "business invitee."
In the event you are an "invitee", the premise owner is responsible if there is an "unreasonable risk of harm" of which the owner "knows or should have known" about. What this means is that even if you fall on something which shouldn't have been there, you must show that the owner knew about the unreasonably dangerous condition and didn't do anything to repair the condition or warn you of its existence. As you might imagine, with regards to food on the floor or something of this nature, this could be very difficult to prove.
LICENSEE Second, there is a "licensee". For instance, if you are injured, while visiting someone's home, you are termed a "licensee". In this instance, there is no particular business reason for you to be there which is of an economic benefit to the owner of the premise. In this instance, the owner must have actual knowledge of the unreasonably dangerous condition and then failed to correct it or failed to warn you about it. In other words, the owner pretty much has to know it's going to hurt you before you can recover.
TRESPASSER Third, there is a "trespasser". If you are on someone's premises without their permission, you are a trespasser and the only duty which they owe you is to not injure you intentionally. Obviously, there are some narrow exceptions to this rule, mostly involving minors, but for the most part, there is not a recovery available in these instances.
MEDICAL PAYMENTS COVERAGE Many homeowners and some business owners (though very few grocery store owners) carry Medical Payments Coverage. This is a "no fault" coverage which you are entitled to collect regardless of fault on the part of the premise owner. You should always inquire about this coverage as insurance companies are for obvious reasons hesitant to point this out to injured persons.
Obviously, this summary does not cover all of the law or circumstances with regards to premises injuries. This is a very complex and difficult area of law. We will be happy to discuss with you the particulars of any given case at no charge for an initial consultation.