United States: Unreasonable Risks Of Harm In Texas Premises Liability Cases

In the typical Texas slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall case occurring on a business owner's premises, the plaintiff is a business patron (invitee). This class of plaintiff is afforded the widest protection in a premises case. To recover damages in a slip-and-fall case or trip-and-fall case, a plaintiff who is an invitee must prove:

  1. Actual or constructive knowledge of some condition on the premises by the owner/operator;
  2. That the condition posed an unreasonable risk of harm;
  3. That the owner/operator did not exercise reasonable care to reduce or eliminate the risk; and
  4. That the owner/operator's failure to use such care proximately caused the plaintiff's injuries.

A condition poses an unreasonable risk of harm for premises-defect purposes when there is a "sufficient probability of a harmful event occurring that a reasonably prudent person would have foreseen it or some similar event as likely to happen."

When invitees are aware of dangerous premises conditions—whether because the danger is obvious or because the landowner provided an adequate warning—the condition will, in most cases, no longer pose an unreasonable risk because the law presumes that invitees will take reasonable measures to protect themselves against known risks, which may include a decision not to accept the invitation to enter onto the landowner's premises. (Austin v. Kroger Tex., L.P., 2015 Tex. LEXIS 559, 58 Tex. Sup. J. 1154 (Tex. 2015))

The following restaurant or bar conditions were examined by Texas courts to determine if they constituted an "unreasonable risk of harm."

1. A Bar Fight

(Del Lago Ptnrs. v. Smith, 307 S.W.3d 762 (Tex. 2010))

A patron was seriously injured when a fight broke out among bar customers. The owners observed, but did nothing to reduce, an hour and a half of verbal and physical hostility in the bar. The owners had a duty to protect the patron because the owners had actual and direct knowledge that a violent brawl was imminent between drunk persons. The duty arose because the owners were aware of an unreasonable risk of harm at the bar that night.

However, a bar proprietor does not always or routinely have a duty to protect patrons from other patrons, and a duty to protect the clientele does not necessarily arises when a patron becomes inebriated, or when words are exchanged between patrons that lead to a fight.

2. Elevated Booth in a Restaurant

(Messer v. Tex. Roadhouse Rest., 2007 Tex. App. LEXIS 3610, 2007 WL 1373880 (Tex. App.Waco 2007))

Plaintiff was escorted by a waitress to an elevated booth, and took an inside seat beside the wall and away from the drop-off. The Plaintiff forgot about the drop-off when she exited the booth and fell to the floor, suffering fractures of the wrist and pelvis and other injuries to the shoulder and back. A motion for summary judgment for the restaurant was reversed. The court determined that the following evidence created a fact issue on whether there was an unreasonable risk of harm:

  1. Photographs of the elevated booth;
  2. An incident report prepared by the manager on duty at the time which stated that the lighting was "dim" on the occasion in question;
  3. Plaintiff's deposition testimony that the area was dimly lit and she was unaware that the booth area was elevated.

3. Sprinkler Valve Box on Lawn

(Villalon v. Kollman & Kollman, 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 3040 (Tex. App. Amarillo 2015))

Plaintiff alleged she stepped into a hole in the lawn next to a restaurant. The hole was a sprinkler valve box. Although the box had a lid, the plaintiff did not know if the lid was off the box or placed on it but in an improper manner. The unreasonably dangerous condition in question consisted of either a covered sprinkler box appearing on the lawn or an uncovered or improperly covered sprinkler box appearing on the lawn.

Summary judgment for the restaurant was affirmed. There was no evidence suggesting either that others stepped into the box when the lid was affixed or that restaurant employees knew that others had stepped into the hole when the box was covered.

4. Hardwood Floor in Restaurant

 (Welcome v. Tex. Roadhouse, Inc., 2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 13800, 2014 WL 7335183 (Tex. App. Houston [1st Dist.] 2014))

The Plaintiff slipped on a restaurant's hardwood floors as she was walking to the ladies' room and broke both of her arms as she tried to break her fall. She testified that although she did not see what actually caused her fall, she assumed that it was the peanut and peanut shell debris on the restaurant's hardwood floor, coupled with the fact that the floor was slightly slanted. Two other witnesses testified to having visited the restaurant before this accident and noticed a slight slant in the floor where the Plaintiff fell. One witness testified that she had almost fallen there many times. None of the witnesses, however, saw the Plaintiff's feet when she fell or reported the slant in the floor to the restaurant.

The jury determined the restaurant was not negligent and the Plaintiff appealed. The Court concluded that the Plaintiff did not conclusively establish that there was a condition on the restaurant's premises that posed an unreasonable risk of harm to her and other invitees.

5. Slipping in Vicinity of Wet Floor Sign

 (Golden Corral Corp. v. Trigg, 443 S.W.3d 515 (Tex. App. Beaumont 2014))

As the Plaintiff stepped onto a restaurant's tile floor, her left foot slipped toward a yellow sign that contained language warning of a wet floor. Her left foot hit the sign before she hit the floor. Plaintiff testified that she did not see the warning before she fell. Nonetheless, a surveillance video admitted into evidence during the trial showed that before she fell, a yellow sign approximately three feet tall with a "Caution Wet Floor" warning on each of its four sides, had been placed on the tile floor in front of the food station where she fell.

The appellate court, reversing a judgment for the Plaintiff, noted that a premises owner's duty to keep its premises safe for invitees against known conditions that pose unreasonable risks of harm is discharged by warning the invitee of unreasonable risks of

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions