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Woman walking up some stairs
June 7th, 2024

Do Commercial Property Owners in Texas Have a Duty to Keep Steps and Stairs in Good Condition?

Do Texas commercial property owners have a duty to keep steps and stairs in good condition? According to the law, they are obligated to make a reasonable effort to ensure that the property is safe for visitors. This includes steps and stairwells in areas open to the public, as well as those limited to employees.

If you have been injured in a trip and fall, understanding your rights is important. The circumstances of your accident will determine whether you have a viable case for compensation or not. Let a skilled personal injury attorney help you make the most of your claim.

Understanding the Duty of Care

Business owners owe something known as the duty of care to most of the visitors to their property. They are obligated to take reasonable steps to prevent injuries, which includes maintaining steps and stairwells in safe working order.

Whether or not a party upheld their duty is a central question in a premises liability lawsuit. If a person with a legal right to be on the property was hurt by a dangerous hazard, the property owner could be liable for any damages. The extent of this duty depends on the identity of the visitor. For starters, there are substantially more protections for individuals who are legally present on the property versus trespassers. Authorized visitors are also broken down into two groups: licensees and invitees.

Licensees

A licensee is an individual who is on the premises of a business with permission, but they are there for their own purpose. This might include door-to-door salespeople instead of customers. The property owner is required to warn these individuals about known hazards but does not necessarily have to resolve them.

Invitees

Invitees enjoy the most protection under the law. They include invited guests who are there for the benefit of the business—namely paying customers. The property owner not only has to warn them of any hazards but also take reasonable steps to address these issues in a timely manner.

Trespassers

A person is a trespasser when they enter the premises of another person without their consent or knowledge. When it comes to a business open to the public, this could involve someone breaking in after hours, entering a store after being asked not to return, or being in restricted areas of a building. The proprietor owes few obligations to trespassers outside of refraining from injuring them intentionally.

When is Care Considered Reasonable?

When it comes to keeping steps and stairs in good condition, Texas businesses are required to use a reasonable amount of care. But what constitutes reasonable? The answer depends largely on the circumstances, but in general, it means taking the same steps that the average property owner would.

Businesses are not required to guarantee everyone’s safety with absolute certainty. There are factors that can lead to a fall outside of the control of the property owner. The right attorney can make the case that the business did not act reasonably in their effort to protect the public from harm.

Talk to an Attorney in Texas About the Duty of Commercial Property Owners

While there is an obligation for businesses to make sure their property is in working order, they are not required to prevent any potential accident on steps or stairs. If you believe you were hurt due to a company failing in this duty, reach out today for a private consultation.

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