Landowner liability cases are one of the most common types of personal injury cases. While many of these incidents occur on commercial property, such as a slip-and-fall in a wet hallway or on uneven flooring, rural landowners are also at risk. Here in South Central Texas, most rural lands are either agricultural lands or vacation properties. The amount of compensation available to victims largely depends on the type of property where the incident occurred.
There is so much scenic land in South Central Texas that both legitimate visitors and trespassers flock to it regularly. Every once in a while, a story appears about trespassers who sue landowners following injury on the property during their unauthorized stays. What happens if a person goes onto a piece of land for recreational purposes, like hunting or fishing, and is injured?
Remote Property Owners
This label applies to vacation and seasonal property: the owner may visit several weekends a month or several months out of the year, but other than those times, the property is unsupervised and unoccupied.
If a trespasser enters the land for recreational purposes, or any other purpose, the landowner is liable for injury caused by obvious defects, like uncovered wells, large sinkholes, rickety bridges, or unrestrained attack animals.
Trespassers often attempt to argue that they are really social invitees, because the landowner has tolerated trespassing in the past, and that the landowner must ensure that the property is clear of latent defects as well, like loose floor boards on a walkway or a bad foundation that leads to a cabin collapse. But the law specifically disallows this argument.
To qualify under Section 75 of the Civil Practices and Remedies Code, the land must be “suitable” for cultivation, forestry, or grazing, though it need not be used for any of those purposes at the time.
Under Section 75.002, an agricultural landowner is not liable for any injuries to a trespasser who enters the land for recreational purposes. These activities are limited to hunting, fishing, swimming, hiking, camping, bird watching, watersports, and a few other activities. Important exceptions apply regarding attractive nuisance and intentional injury, so there is still a possibility for a successful lawsuit in these cases.
Although there are exceptions, landowners must keep their property safe for all possible visitors. For a free consultation in this area, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury lawyer. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.