Premises Liability 101 for Holiday Gatherings

No matter how you spend the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, most of us are thinking about preparing a delicious meal and spending quality time with family and friends. Premises liability may be the last thing on your mind. At Chad West, PLLC, premises liability cases are among the most common we pursue on behalf of our clients. From tripping hazards to food safety, premises liability cases commonly arise during the holidays.

Common Premises Liability Accidents

A small gathering of close family is unlikely to bring a premises liability lawsuit (although there are contentious exceptions). However, holiday events can mean a variety of risks for injury. If you or a loved one is injured because of negligence on the part of a property owner, business, rental company, retailer or other business, you may be able to seek damages. Here are some of the most common premises liability accidents to be aware of.

Poorly maintained facilities. Be aware of hazards like frayed carpet, uneven flooring, unforeseen steps or tripping hazards, faulty stairs or bad lighting. Low visibility in parking garages and other outdoor settings can conceal hazards that property owners should be responsible enough to warn visitors of. In premises liability cases, evidence of a prolonged hazard is important to proving that a property owner knew or should have known of a hazard and failed to warn visitors of the danger. A long-neglected floor could present a tripping hazard. A known leak in an ice machine or water line could leave customers vulnerable to a slip and fall accident. Such hazards will be easier to prove in a premises liability case if you can also show evidence that the hazard should have been repaired.

Intoxicated guests. Attending a holiday dinner or happy hour at a local restaurant? Restaurant and bar owners have a responsibility to not overserve guests. If someone has been overserved and causes a severe injury or fatality, that person can face criminal charges for their actions AND the restaurant or bar can face civil prosecution in the form of a premises liability lawsuit. In Texas, bars, clubs and restaurants that serve alcohol are known as “dram shops.” Under Texas dram shop laws, these establishments may be held financially responsible for injuries their patrons may cause if such injuries are the result of being overserved. These laws allow individuals to seek damages from alcohol-serving establishments in the event of injury or death. Dram shop laws present a kind of check on the financial incentives of bars and restaurant to continue serving a clearly intoxicated guest. If it can be shown that a staff member witnessed or should have a guest’s observed intoxicated behavior and failed to act to prevent harm, the bar can be held liable.

Food safety. Food poisoning is one of the most common Thanksgiving injuries, the result of improper handling of poultry which is a common cause of foodborne illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In most instances of food born illness, a food poisoning lawsuit would fall under a products liability claim as such illnesses are often caused by contamination at the production source. Premises liability lawsuits against restaurant proprietors or caterers are less common. In order to pursue a successful premises liability claim against food service provider, you would need to show that you were served contaminated or expired food. This would be an example of the restaurant or even the homeowner failing to provide a reasonable standard of care for guests.

No matter what your injuries, a Dallas premises liability attorney can help. If you or a loved one has been injured because of a business owner or proprietor’s negligence in overserving alcohol, failing to maintain a safe premises or serving contaminated food, reach out for a free case evaluation.

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