Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Texas heard a case that required the justices to determine if a homeowner’s comment to the mailman, “don’t slip,” was sufficient to warn him about the icy conditions on a sidewalk and driveway. In the end, the Court determined that the warning was sufficient.
The Facts of the Case
The facts of the case are fairly straightforward. The plaintiff in the case was the defendants’ mail-delivery person. One day in January, the plaintiff was delivering mail during a particularly cold day. The National Weather Service had a hard freeze warning in place.
On his route, the plaintiff would occasionally walk either on residents’ sidewalks or through their grass. On the day of his fall, the plaintiff approached the defendants’ home on their sidewalk. After the mailman delivered mail to one of the defendants, she told him “don’t slip.”
On his way down the defendants’ sidewalk, the mailman slipped and injured himself. He then sued the homeowners for failing to do anything about the icy condition of their sidewalk.
At Trial and on Appeal
Before trial, the homeowners were successful in having the case dismissed. They were able to convince the court that the warning “don’t slip” was sufficient to put the mailman on guard that slippery conditions may exist.
On appeal to the intermediate court, however, the decision was reversed. The intermediate court explained that the warning was too generic in nature to actually put the mailman on notice of the icy conditions.
On Appeal to the Texas Supreme Court
The Texas Supreme Court agreed with the lower court and with the defendant homeowners, holding that, although the warning was generic, it was sufficient when taken in context.
The Court began by outlining the four elements that any premises liability plaintiff must satisfy in order to succeed on a claim:
- The property owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the condition causing the injury;
- The condition posed an unreasonable risk of harm;
- The property owner failed to take reasonable care to reduce or eliminate the risk; and
- The property owner’s failure to take reasonable care to reduce or eliminate the risk was the proximate cause of the injury to the invitee.
The third element was at issue in this case: whether the homeowners warned the mailman that there was a dangerous condition. All other elements were not contested on appeal. The Court ended up agreeing with the lower court and with the defendant homeowners, holding that, although the warning was generic, it was sufficient when taken in context.
Have You Been Injured in a Tennessee Slip-and-Fall Accident?
This case took place in Texas, but similar laws apply here in Tennessee. If you have recently been injured while on the property of another, and you believe the accident was caused by a dangerous condition that you should have been warned about, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries from the negligent homeowner or landowner. To learn more about the law of premises liability in Tennessee, and to speak to a dedicated personal injury attorney about your potential case, click here or call 615-200-1111 today to schedule a free initial consultation.
See Related Blog Posts:
Possible DUI Accident Claims One Man’s Life in Cheatham County, Nashville Injury Lawyer’s Blog, published August 18, 2014.
Domino-Effect Accident Leaves Three Dead in Tennessee, Nashville Injury Lawyer’s Blog, published July 15, 2014.