Category Archives: Landowner Liability

What Constitutes Gross Negligence Under the Recreational Use Statute?

The Texas Supreme Court recently analyzed an important question for Texas landowners:  What constitutes gross negligence under the Recreational Use Statute?  The court’s opinion in Suarez v. City of Texas City focuses on other issues such as governmental immunity as well, but also offers insight into how gross negligence is analyzed under the Recreational Use Statute. [Read full opinion here.] Legal Background As you may recall from this prior blog post, Texas has a Recreational Use Statute which essentially shields Texas landowners from liability if a person is injured on agricultural land while… Read More →

Questions from Tiffany’s Desk: Liability for Snakes on My Land

Question:  If someone is bitten by a snake on my land, can I be held liable? This is a great question and as I was working on this blog post, I came across a great quote in a Texas appellate court opinion that sort of summarizes this issue:  “A good deal of the vegetation in Texas stings, sticks or stinks.  Any number of insects and animals can hurt or even kill you.” Answer:  Although liability is unlikely, it is possible under certain circumstances. As you may recall from… Read More →

Questions from Tiffany’s Desk: Is that liability release worth more the paper it’s written on?

Question:  This is one I get a lot when I give presentations suggesting the use of liability releases before allowing people on your property to undertake certain activities like hunting or riding horses.  Are these releases enforceable?  As one gentleman put it, “Is a liability release worth any more than the paper it’s written on?” Answer:  If drafted correctly, a liability release is enforceable under Texas law and may allow the released party to avoid liablity.  Releases, however, are not favored and are narrowly construed against the released… Read More →

Tx Supreme Court Holds Recreational Use Statute Does Not Apply to Spectators at Sporting Events

A question had arisen in Texas appellate courts over the last several years:  Would attending a sporting event as a spectator fall under the definition of “recreation” thereby allowing the defendant to raise the Recreational Use Statute as a defense? Last week, the Texas Supreme Court answered this question in University of Texas at Arlington v. Williams.  [Read full opinion here.] Background The plaintiff attended her daughter’s high school soccer game at the University of Texas at Arlington football stadium.  She watched her daughter’s game through completion.  After… Read More →

Texas Landowner Liability Part IV: Liability of Landlord During Lease Term

Another important consideration for any landowner looking to lease land is the issue of what liability he or she may be subject to if someone is injured during the term of the lease agreement. In Texas, the general rule is that a landowner is not liable to the tenant or to others on the land for physical harm caused by any dangerous condition that existed at the time the lessee took possession of the land. As with most laws, however, there are several exceptions to this rule. A landowner… Read More →

Texas Landowner Liability Part III: Recreational Use Statute

There is an important statute that limits liability of certain property owners who open their land up for recreational uses.  Understanding that the vast majority of Texas land is privately owned, and hoping to encourage landowners to allow recreation on their land, the Texas Legislature passed the Recreational Use Statute.  This statute may be found at Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 75.   Essentially, where the statute applies, the landowner, lessee, or occupier owes the plaintiff the same duty as a trespasser–meaning that the landowner, lessee, or… Read More →

Texas Landowner Liability Part II: Premises Liability – Legal Status and Duty Owed

As we discussed in Part I of this series, when a plaintiff is injured due to a condition on the defendant’s land, he or she may recover only under a premises liability claim.  In analyzing this type of claim, the first question to ask is what duty was owed by the landowner.  The answer to this question generally depends on which of the three the legal categories the plaintiff fits: invitee, licensee, or trespasser. Invitee A person who enters the land with the owner’s knowledge and for the mutual… Read More →

Texas Landowner Liability Part I: Negligent Act v. Premises Liability

One of the most common questions I get from Texas landowners is under what circumstances they might be held liable is another person is injured on their land.  This is an important, and somewhat complex, issue that is very important for all landowners to be aware of.  In light of this, we will begin a multi-part series on Texas landowner liability that will continue for the next couple of weeks. Negligent Act v. Premises Liability When a plaintiff is injured on a defendant’s land, he or she has… Read More →

October 17, 2014 Weekly Round Up

Thank you all for your kind words after my big announcement last week.  I am happy to report that I am settled into my new office in Amarillo and back at it.  Yesterday, I had the chance to present on water law for the Big County Master Naturalists group in Abilene via webcam.  Welcome to those of you visiting the blog from that event! Here are some of the ag law stories in the news this week. Video Addresses Proposed Water Pipeline Project.  The Texas Tribune put together a… Read More →

Custom Farming Operations Should Consider Limiting Liability with Business Entity Selection

With the fall comes harvest time, which means we’ll be seeing more combines in the fields.  One of my favorite sights! Custom harvesting can be a great business venture for folks involved in agriculture as it can allow farmers to earn supplemental income using knowledge and equipment they already have from their own operations.  Farmers engaged in custom harvesting for others, however, should consider creating a separate business entity that will not only limit liability for their custom harvesting operation, but will also ensure that their own farm assets are protected in… Read More →