Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2021/04/Screen-Shot-2021-04-19-at-3.42.14-PM.pngApril 2021:  Playa del Carmen, Q.R. Mexico— A criminal investigation into the death of a 13-year-old boy at an Xcaret water park has been opened.  In a press release, the Attorney General of the Mexican state made the announcement after it was notified of the death of the child via a private hospital.

According to the Attorney General, staff from the hospital reported the drowning death of Leonardo Luna-Calvo, 13.  In their official news release, Attorney General of Quintana Roo said, “the rule of law in Quintana Roo is firm and there will be no privileges for any group or person who intends to omit the responsibility that corresponds by law.”

National Water Safety expert Jesse Guerra, Attorney Of Counsel to Carabin Shaw Law Firm said,” Waterpark management needs to inspect what they expect from employees responsible for Public Safety at their facility on a daily basis.  Tragic situations like this are preventable if safety measures are strictly followed.”

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collection-of-construction-safety-helmet-38070-300x197The Supreme Court of Texas recently issued an opinion in a case involving a property owner’s liability for injuries an employee contractor sustained while working on the property. The case arose when the two construction workers suffered injuries while working on a condominium project owned by the defendant. The defendant hired an individual instead of a general contractor to manage the project. A high-voltage power line hung behind the property, and the defendants told the project manager about the line because it was “too close” to the building. The project manager advised the plaintiffs to begin the project even though the power line was still intact. While working on the project, electricity shot down the rebar, and the power line snapped, causing the workers to suffer burns and other serious injuries.

The workers filed a negligence lawsuit against the power company and the defendants. The trial court entered a judgment per a jury finding that the property owner was liable under ordinary-negligence and premises-liability theories.

The defendant appealed, arguing that the employee’s evidence was not legally sufficient under Chapter 95. In response, the plaintiffs argued that the Chapter does not apply, the defendant waived some arguments, and the evidence was legally sufficient. Amongst several issues, the defendant argued that they could not be held liable because the danger was open and obvious. Under Texas law, a danger is open and obvious when the invitee possesses “knowledge and full appreciation” of the hazard’s extent and nature. Typically, when the danger is open and obvious, the property owner does not maintain a duty to warn of the danger or make the premises safe. Inquiries regarding whether a danger is open and obvious are not subjective but rather what a reasonably prudent person would have known. Courts will look to the totality of the “particular circumstances.”

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pexels-ian-panelo-3087484-200x300Many Texas companies hire independent contractors because of their cost-effective nature. With an independent contractor, companies can use the contractor for a particular project when it needs to be done and are free from being tethered to the particular contractor when the work is complete. When a contractor’s actions cause an accident, however, there is a question of liability on the company’s part. Is the contractor or the company responsible? It can often be a complicated question.

For example, in a recent Texas Supreme Court opinion, the court considered a case involving the liability of a company that hired an independent contractor. When a Texas utility company entered into a contract with an independent contractor, the utility company issued a work order for the independent contractor to remove a utility pole. To remove the pole, it needed to be pulled out of the ground, and then the hole would be filled with dirt. The independent contractor completed the project and filled the hole, and another company that the utility company contracted with to inspect the work of its contractors confirmed that the job was complete. The plaintiff was mowing her lawn when she stepped into a hole that was two and a half feet deep in the area where the pole had been removed. The plaintiff sued the utility company, its independent contractor, and the company responsible for checking the contractor’s work for negligence. The trial court and court of appeals sided with the defendants by granting summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the utility company owed a duty to her to ensure that the independent contractor performed its job in a safe manner. Because the removal of the pole was inherently dangerous work and the utility company had a contractual right to control the independent contractor, they owed her a duty. However, the court disagreed and sided with the defendants, arguing that there was no duty on the part of the utility company to the plaintiff.

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CS-San-Antonio-9-300x300Recently, a Texas district court issued an opinion in a lawsuit stemming from injuries a man suffered during a workplace altercation. According to the record, the plaintiff worked in a storeroom of a clothing store that is operated by a larger company. The plaintiff and another employee became involved in a verbal altercation requiring intervention from a supervisor. The supervisor presented the parties with the options to either quit their jobs, change shifts, or continue working together-they chose to continue working together. About a week after the verbal altercation, the men became involved in another argument, and the employee punched the plaintiff. Both of the men were terminated from their positions. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the parent company, arguing that they were liable for his injuries because of negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent supervision, retention, and monitoring. A jury found in favor of the plaintiff, and the company appealed.

Among other issues, the company argued that they were not liable because the men were not employees of the parent company, but rather of a subsidiary. The company argued that the plaintiff did not establish that the defendant had an employment relationship with any of the parties involved, or that they controlled the subsidiary’s safety policies. Therefore, the jury’s finding was not supported by the evidence.

Under Texas laws, the court will sustain a sufficiency of the evidence challenge if there is a complete absence of an essential fact, the trial court is barred by the law to give weight to the evidence offered to prove a vital fact, if the preferred evidence is no more than a “mere scintilla,” or the evidence established the opposite of a vital fact. Evidence rises to a sufficient level if it would allow fair-minded people to differ in their conclusions. Further, if the evidence does not create more than a slight suspicion, it is not sufficient.

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Every year nearly 500 people in the US die from what is a preventable death: accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.  Nearly 50,000 people in the U.S. end up visiting emergency rooms each year due to CO poisoning. There are many ways to protect your family, loved ones, guests and renters.  Whether you’re at home or traveling, there are steps you can take to help keep yourself and others safe from CO poisoning.

Owners of hotels, rental properties and homes have legal obligations to make sure their properties are serviced and do not pose a risk of renters, friends, family or guests developing CO Poisoning.  Winter temperatures now mean an increase in heating systems running for hours which adds to the carbon monoxide risk.

Surprisingly, fumes are produced by more than furnaces.

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pexels-oliver-king-4067795-300x200Many Texans spend the majority of their time at work. As a result, San Antonio workplace accidents are very common, even for those with jobs that are not physically demanding. Indeed, an on-the-job accident can occur at any moment, and for almost any reason. Thus, all employees need to understand their options when it comes to recovering after a work-related accident.

There are two types of claims that a worker can bring after an on-the-job accident. The first, a workers’ compensation claim, is the more common of the two types of claims. The workers’ compensation system provides employees a simplified way to obtain compensation for a work-related accident without needing to prove that their employer was at fault. Because the workers’ compensation program is a no-fault system, these claims are typically quicker to process than traditional personal injury claims.

The main drawback of workers’ compensation claims is the availability of damages. Injured employees who successfully bring a Texas workers’ compensation claim can obtain benefits for their medical expenses, lost wages, and any decrease in earning capacity. However, unlike a personal injury case, a workers’ comp claim does not entitle an employee to non-economic damages.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/07/Screen-Shot-2020-07-29-at-6.49.41-PM-1024x568.pngJuly 29, 2020, AUSTIN — A person is dead after drowning in a central Austin apartment complex pool just before midnight last Sunday. According to Austin-Travis County EMS, the accident happened at the La Casita Apartment complex in the 2900 block of Cole Street, just east of Interstate 35. 

ATCEMS said medics performed CPR on an adult person after they were taken out of the water. About 40 minutes later, ATCEMS said the person was pronounced dead on scene.

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Swimming Pool Safety Tips

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architecture-blue-building-cool-261372-300x200Every year, hundreds of residents enjoy the outdoors by swimming at their local apartment, hotel/resort, or community swimming pools. A beautiful breeze and the refreshing waters of swimming pools make these gathering places a fun activity for families. No wonder that the pools are the center of summer fun where family members of all ages relax and enjoy the outdoors together.

Despite the benefits and pleasures swimming pools provide to its users, there are also risks involved.

In fact, swimming pool accidents are one of the most common types of accidents reported in an apartment complexes, hotel complexes, or community neighborhood pools.  If a serious injury happens due to negligence or worse yet, a drowning, at one of these public venues, you do have someone to turn to for help and advice at Carabin Shaw

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agriculture-animal-beef-bull-301600-300x201The Supreme Court of Texas, recently issued an opinion addressing the reach of the Texas Farm Animal Activity Act (Farm Act). According to the court’s opinion, the defendants owned and operated a 760-acre cattle farm. In 2005, they hired a part-time ranch hand to work the cattle and perform other duties at the ranch. After training the ranch hand, they allowed him to work alone while the owners tended to their other businesses. On the day of the accident, the owners instructed the ranch hand to move 20 head of cattle from one end of the ranch to another. When the owners returned, they found the ranch hand dead behind the barn. It was indicated in the medical report that the ranch hand died from blunt force and crush injuries, most likely from being trampled by the animals.

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the ranch hand’s family against the owners, alleging that they were negligent in failing to provide a safe workplace, failing to train the ranch hand and warn him of the dangers of working cattle, and failing to supervise him. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants finding that the Farm Animal Activity Act (Farm Act or Act) barred the plaintiffs’ claims; however, the court of appeals reversed, and the defendants petitioned the court for review.

The Farm Act (the Act), which is an expansion of the Equine Activity Act, limits liability for injuries to a participant in a farm animal activity that results from an “inherent risk” of the activity. One example is when someone is injured while competing in a horse race. The Act applies whether a person is an amateur, professional, pays, or participates in the activity for free. The are about 40 specific examples of these activities included in the Act. However, notably, ranchers’ and ranch hands’ involvement with the animals is not mentioned in the the Act.

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city-road-landscape-landmark-158854-200x300The Supreme Court of Texas recently issued an opinion stemming from the death of a student who was shot by a University peace officer. The student’s parents filed a lawsuit against the University and the peace officer. In response, the University argued that governmental immunity protects it from being sued for injuries related to law-enforcement activities.

Sovereign immunity, otherwise known as governmental immunity, protects government officials and entities from certain civil lawsuits. However, Texas waives this immunity in specific situations. That said, plaintiffs still frequently face difficulties recovering in these cases. Texas courts have not extended this immunity to private entities, even if they perform some governmental duties. In some cases, institutions will purport to possess these protections, even though they are private institutions.

In evaluating whether the law provides governmental immunity to an institution, courts will examine whether the party acted as an arm of the state government, and if its conduct fits within the purpose of the doctrine. Generally, private universities do not act as an arm of the state. Even if a university performs law enforcement activities that may protect the public, the doctrine does not extend to these institutions. Although Texas Education Code allows private institutions to hire peace officers, the individual officer’s immunity does not extend to the private institution.

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