People who slip and fall on someone else’s property may be able to seek compensation for their damages. Property owners, including homeowners and owners of bars or restaurants, have a legal duty to protect you from unsafe conditions.
Alcohol consumption by the victim complicates these claims. The property owner could argue you were injured because you were impaired.
If you suffered an injury in a slip and fall in Fort Worth or the surrounding area while you were intoxicated, call Anderson Cummings to schedule a free consultation. Our services come with no upfront fees, and we have more than 50-plus years of combined experience. Our Fort Worth slip and fall lawyers are here to help.
Have questions after a personal injury? Call us at (817) 920-9000
Can You Sue Someone For Getting Hurt on Their Property in Fort Worth?
Each situation is different, but yes, it is possible to hold a property owner liable for an injury suffered on their property. This includes a slip and fall. That said, these claims are difficult to prove and there are many factors to consider, including the legal duty owed to you by the property owner.
What is a Homeowner’s Duty to Social Guests?
Slip and fall claims brought by people who were impaired by alcohol often involve accidents at a house party where alcohol was consumed. For example, you may have fallen at someone else’s house after losing your balance on a weak spot in the carpet or staircase. You may have slipped on spilled liquid in the kitchen or tripped over a piece of furniture.
In these situations, the guests are considered licensees. As a licensee, the owner of the house has a duty to warn you about dangerous, or potentially dangerous conditions on the property. However, this duty does not apply to conditions you are likely to notice and avoid.
If you were warned about a hazard and you did not heed the warning, you might not have a case. For example, if the owner of the house was renovating part of the house and you tripped over something in that part of the house, there might not be a case.
On the other hand, if there was a hazard you would not have discovered without a warning, and it causes an injury, there may be a case. For example, if a weak spot in the floor or staircase was not obvious, the owner of the house who invited you should have warned you about it.
What is a Bar/Restaurant Owner’s Duty to Their Customers?
Slip and fall claims involving alcohol may also arise because of accidents at bars or restaurants where alcohol was consumed. For example, bar patrons could slip and fall in the bathroom because of a cracked tile or spill. You might trip over furniture in the bar because of poor lighting.
When you go into a bar or restaurant, you are considered an invitee. In other words, you are on the premises for the benefit of the property owner.
Property owners owe invitees the highest duty of care. They must address unsafe conditions on the property or at least provide sufficient warning about potential hazards. Property owners should perform regular inspections to uncover slip and fall hazards and other dangerous conditions. If there was a wet floor sign in the bathroom and you walked into a slippery area and fell, the property owner may be immune from liability.
Bar and restaurant owners should expect some of their customers to become somewhat intoxicated and should act appropriately to protect these customers from harm.
Actual or Constructive Notice of Hazardous Conditions
Whether you were an invitee or licensee at the time of your slip and fall, the property owner cannot be held liable unless he or she had notice of the obstacle that led to your accident.
There are two types of notice: actual and constructive.
- Actual notice means the property owner knew of the condition.
- Constructive notice means the owner should have known about the issue.
Was the Risk Foreseeable?
Another consideration is whether the risk was foreseeable. Property owners cannot be held liable for risks that were not foreseeable. The question is whether a property owner acting with reasonable care would have discovered the risk.
How the Victim’s Intoxication Could Affect a Claim For Compensation
It is probably going to be more difficult to prove a slip and fall claim if the victim was impaired by alcohol. The property owner could argue you fell because you were intoxicated, not because the property owner failed to address a hazardous condition.
Alcohol Impairment Makes People Prone to Falling
There is research showing alcohol use increases the risk of falling and suffering an injury. There is extensive research showing that alcohol consumption impairs your balance, coordination, reflexes and judgment. These could be compelling points in the minds of members of a jury.
Property owners may argue that someone who was not impaired would have avoided falling because he or she would have been more likely to see a hazardous condition and avoid it. It is often assumed that people who are drunk are not paying as much attention to their surroundings as someone who is sober.
The Burden of Proof is on the Victim
As the burden of proof in a personal injury claim is on the victim, your lawyer may need to prove that the obstacle that caused you to fall was a risk for any reasonable person, whether that person was drunk or sober. For example, if you slipped on a wet spot in the bathroom but there was no wet floor sign, it may not matter whether you were drunk or sober. The property owner may still be liable for your damages. The same argument may be used if there was bad lighting.
Some other examples of hazards that are dangerous for any visitors to a property, whether they are impaired or not, include:
- Broken railings on staircases
- Loose wiring
- Objects lying in walkways that are regularly used by patrons/guests
- Electrical cables on the floor
- Potholes in the parking lot
- Slippery surfaces in the parking lot
Another argument your lawyer may be able to use is that you were overserved by the bartender. In Texas, bartenders could potentially be held liable for overserving someone who gets in a car and causes a crash. If people who are drunk are more likely to fall and the bartender overserved you, the bar may be at least partially liable for damages from a slip and fall.
Can I Be at Fault if I Was Drunk When I Fell?
You may share fault for your damages. The property owner’s lawyer may argue someone who was sober would have been more likely to avoid the obstacle in question or avoid falling because of unimpaired balance and coordination. Your lawyer might point out the property owner could have done more maintenance or done a better job warning guests about the problem. If this happens, you may be found partially at fault and your compensation award will be reduced according to your percentage of fault.
In Texas, you cannot bear more fault than the parties you are seeking compensation from. If you are 51 percent or more at fault, you are barred from seeking any compensation for your damages.
Injured in a Slip and Fall? Call Anderson Cummings
Slip and fall claims are difficult to prove. For example, your lawyer must establish that the property knew or should have known about the hazard. He or she must also contend with arguments from the defense that you should have avoided the dangerous condition.
This is why you need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to manage your case. Anderson Cummings’ licensed attorneys have extensive knowledge of Texas law and know what it takes to build a robust case.
No upfront fees or legal obligations. Call to learn more: (817) 920-9000