Archive for the ‘Premises liability’ Category

Toddler killed, mother injured by falling tree branch at Tomball behavior center

An awful accident has taken the life of a 14-month old baby girl and hospitalized her mother with serious injuries.

Lyndi Lolmaugh and her daughter Tesa Grace were attending a volunteer event at the Cadwalder Behavior Clinic located at 3093 Quinn Road, Tomball, Texas. Lyndi was working with a group that was putting up a Christmas tree and decorations.  As mom and daughter were leaving, a 20-foot branch fell from a tree, crushing mother and child.

Don Merwin, who was working at the clinic at the time, spoke to Channel 2 News about the tragedy, saying that he and another volunteer pulled the tree limb off Lyndi and Tesa and called 911.  A life flight helicopter transported baby Tesa to Memorial Hermann, but despite the very best efforts of 14 doctors, Tesa later died from her injuries.

Lyndi is still recovering from her injuries at the hospital: she suffered a dislocated shoulder and a broken back.  Tesa’s grandmother Diane Glenn told Channel 2 that Tesa and Lyndi were new to the area and had recently moved to start a new life.  Neither had health insurance.  What an awful loss for this poor family to endure so close to Christmas.

A fund has been set up to help Lyndi and her family with expenses. You can help by clicking here.

Lyndi Lolmaugh hurt, toddler daughter killed

Witnesses say the branch fell approximately 20 feet to the pathway below

Lyndi Lolmaugh tree branch accident Tomball Texas

Child trapped in gate, injured, at Chelsea Park Apartments in Houston

The Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department were called upon yesterday afternoon to rescue a seven-year old boy who became trapped by a gate at the Chelsea Park Apartments in the 11000 block of Crescent Moon Drive in Northwest Harris County. Once he had been disengaged from the gate the young man was taken by life flight helicopter to the Houston Medical Center. Channel 11’s story doesn’t specify how he became stuck.

Shannon Elliott injured by debris falling from Urban Lofts apartments in Galveston

Shannon Elliott (26) and her 3-year old son were walking by the Urban Lofts apartments at 2208 Postoffice Street in Galveston Saturday night when they were struck by falling stucco that detached from the bottom of a third floor balcony. Shannon suffered serious head and neck injuries and remains in critical condition at UTMB. Shannon’s 3-year old son suffered bruising to his face and head, and his father collected him from hospital Sunday morning.
The Urban Lofts building is owned by Rusty Walla who had a work crew remove the stucco from the building exterior. According to a Galveston Daily News article published today, Walla bought and remodeled the building in 2006 and added the decorative stucco to the exterior in 2008 after Hurricane Ike. Engineers called to the scene of the accident Sunday morning said the building and the balconies were structurally sound: Walla said he added the stucco to resemble the building’s original 1920’s architecture.
If you have been injured by a dangerous condition on private property, contact Houston personal injury attorneys Smith & Hassler: premises liability law poses its own unique set of challenges, so it is vital you understand what Texas law requires you to prove in order to receive compensation.

Stucco fell from a 3rd floor balcony of Urban Lofts, seriously injuring Shannon Elliott

Workers remove stucco from Urban Lofts. Photo credit: Jennifer Reynolds, Galveston Daily News.

Jamie Teran seriously injured when golf cart falls from River Plantation Golf Course bridge

Around 5:30pm Sunday 12-year old Eddie Teran was riding on a golf cart with his uncle James Teran, 36, at the River Plantation golf course in Conroe. When they went to cross a bridge the golf cart hit an ornate wooden railing on a covered bridge, the railing gave way and the boy, his uncle and the golf cart went over the side of the bridge, falling about 30 feet. Channel 13’s story is hereThe Houston Chronicle’s story is hereThe Montgomery County Courier article is hereChannel 11’s story is here.

The Chronicle’s article indicates James Teran suffered serious injury, including a badly broken leg and a fractured skull. The Montgomery County Police Reporter states this was the second time such an accident has happened in the part few months: previously a teenage boy in a golf cart transporting soft drinks at a golf tournament crashed through the railing.

Given that the bridge is intended for golf cart traffic one would think the would be fall protection in place for open-sided golf carts passing over such a high bridge. The Montgomery County Police Reporter article describes the railing as “not much more than a porch railing,” which is clearly unsuitable for a bridge designed to carry golf carts because it is not a question of if a golf cart would hit the railing, it is a question of when. Jim Teran, Eddie’s grandfather and James’ father, told the Montgomery County Courier that it is easy for the tires of a golf cart to become stuck in the boards on the bridge, causing the driver’s ability to steer to be affected.

Jamie Teran is tended to by paramedics after his golf cart crashed through an ornamental railing

The golf cart fell about 30 feet to the stream below, seriously injuring Jamie and his nephew

A wooden railing to the side of this covered bridge gave way allowing the golf cart to fall

3-year old girl injured on Techno Jump Ride at 2012 Houston Rodeo

A 3-year old little girl suffered a head injury and bruising to her face after being thrown from the Techno Jump Ride at RodeoHouston today. According to witnesses, the little girl’s mom decided to get off before the ride started, allowing the girl and her 8-year old brother to continue the ride without her. RodeoHouston spokesperson Sarah Poole said that the little girl crawled out from underneath the restraining bar of the Techno Jump Ride then fell to the ride’s platform. The ride had apparently just started but had not reached its operating height. The little girl was in and out of consciousness as she was rushed to Texas Children’s Hospital. Ms. Poole said the girl met the height requirement for the Techno Jump Ride, and also said the ride was inspected on March 13th and passed inspection. Channel 11’s coverage of the Techno Jump incident is here. Channel 2’s report is here. The Houston Chronicle’s story is here.
Houstonians will recall that last year 47-year old Brian Greenhouse died at the 2011 Houston Rodeo when he fell 28 feet from the Hi-Miler Rollercoaster. A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Mr. Greenhouse’s family member settled for an undisclosed amount shortly before the commencement of the 2012 Houston Rodeo.

A 3-year old girl was injured when she fell from the Techno Jump Ride at the 2012 Houston Rodeo

Wyndham Oaks Apartments ceiling collapses on woman injuring her

31
Jul 2011
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Channel 13 News is reporting a premises injury to a woman at Wyndham Oaks Apartments located at 2410 S. Kirkwood Road in Houston. Apparently a female resident of the apartments fell asleep while studying in her bedroom for a college exam when the ceiling of her apartment suddenly collapsed in on her. The woman was trapped in the rubble. The Channel 13 News article states that residents on Wyndham Oaks says their ceilings and wall have been cracking for the past six months. Mr. Solomon Sampson, identified in the article as the injured woman’s father, said he had complained about the cracks to the apartment’s management, but the requested repairs were not performed. The woman was rescued from the rubble by the Houston Fire Department and was transported to an area hospital to be treated for her injuries.

The Wyndham Oaks Apartments web site states that the apartments were built in 1978 and remodeled in 2003, and there are 279 units in the property.  The web site also states: “You will find the ultimate resident experience at Wyndham Oaks. This desirable community reflects a tradition of elegant living and creates an atmosphere of serenity enhanced by lush landscaping and dramatic architecture.” Unfortunately the injured woman’s experience appears to have been anything but elegant and serene.

A sleeping woman was injured when her Wyndham Oaks Apartment ceiling crashed down on her

Under Texas premises liability law, a property owner may be liable for injuries to a person occurring on the property if the person was injured by an unreasonably dangerous condition that the premises owner either knew about, or should have known about, and neither warned the injured person about the condition nor made it safe. In this particular case it appears Wyndham Oaks Apartments were informed beforehand of the cracked ceiling and walls, however those conditions were not addressed prior to the ceiling collapse. If you have been injured due to the negligence of a property owner, contact Smith & Hassler for a free consultation with our experienced personal injury attorneys.

Smith & Hassler recently filed suit in Harris County Civil District Court for a Houston woman who fell and sustained a serious injury resulting in her losing the sight in an eye. She fell at her apartment due to a dangerous condition reported to the property management months before her injury occurred, yet the dangerous condition was never addressed.

Getting your medical bills paid for a slip and fall injury claim in Houston

18
Jul 2011
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You go to your local grocery store just as you have tens, maybe even hundreds of times before.  You collect a grocery cart and you’re walking through the entrance when your feet slip out from under you and the next thing you know you’re looking straight up at the ceiling tiles.  You feel a dull pain in your low back and you think you hit your head when you fell.  Another shopper helps you up and you see that you slipped in a puddle of clear liquid about the size of a dinner plate.  You fell and were hurt on the grocery store’s property so they have to cover your medical bills, right?  Not necessarily.

Slip and fall claims are among the trickier personal injury claims Smith & Hassler handles for clients.  It is NOT the law in Texas that merely because you fall on somebody’s property and were injured the property owner is automatically responsible for your medical bills.  You must be able to present evidence that the property owner’s negligence was what caused your fall.

Texas law requires that you prove that you were injured by an “unreasonably dangerous condition.”  Typically liquid spilled on a polished surface presents a slip hazard and would qualify as an unreasonably dangerous condition.  You must also have evidence that the property owner both failed to warn you of the dangerous condition (e.g. by putting out a sign) AND failed to try and make the condition safe (e.g. by mopping up a spill).

Slip and fall injury claims come down to what the property owner knew or reasonably could have known BEFORE you fell.  You will need evidence that the property owner either: (a) knew about the dangerous condition before you fell but didn’t take care of it; or (b) the property owner actually created the dangerous condition themselves; or (c) even if the property owner didn’t actually know about the dangerous condition, it had existed for long that through a reasonable inspection the property owner should have found it and taken care of it.

Smith & Hassler has handled hundreds of slip and fall claims for people injured on properties in the Houston area.  You can call us today and speak to an attorney about your specific case.  Premises liability can be tricky, so sound legal advice can be invaluable.

Park Avenue Apartments crime rate makes residents worry for their safety

15
Jul 2011
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Click2Houston.com has published an article about the Park Avenue luxury apartment complex located off Pearland Parkway: the apartment complex is apparently experiencing a tremendous upsurge in criminal activity, and residents are understandably worried for their safety. The complex is located in southeast Houston and according to the complex’ web site offers 10 different luxury floor plans for 1, 2 or 3 bedroom apartments.

Residents are particularly on edge after two men forced their way into a mother and daughter’s apartment, pistol whipped them both, and then stole their valuables and both of their cars. A single mom whose apartment was burgled 3 months before is quoted as saying those in charge at Park Avenue Apartments did not do enough to make she and her family feel protected after they were victimized by burglars. She said that there is no security, and the one security person who is present is not proactive and does not get out of his car.

According to the Houston Police Department, officers have been called out to Park Avenue Apartments 65 times since February, of which 21 calls were responding to burglaries. When Channel 2 went to the complex to speak to someone in charge, the property manager of Park Avenue Apartments pushed their reporter aside and threatened to have her arrested.

The Texas Supreme Court‘s decision in Timberwalk Apartments Partners, Inc. v Cain, 972 S.W.2d 749 (Tex. 1998) sets out what a Plaintiff must prove when alleging they were injured or sustained damages due to the failure of a property owner to provide adequate security.  In that particular case, a woman who had been raped alleged that the landlord of her apartment complex was in part responsible for the rape because the landlord failed to provide adequate security. The court held that a duty to protect another person from the criminal acts of a third person exists only when the risk of criminal conduct is go great that the risk is both unreasonable and foreseeable. Whether the risk of criminal conduct is foreseeable should be determined based on what the premises owner knew at the time of the incident, not what could have been known with hindsight.

The court decided that in determining whether certain criminal conduct on a landowner’s property could have been foreseen, courts should consider the following factors:

(1) whether any criminal conduct previously occurred on or near the property;
(2) how recently it occurred;
(3) how often it occurred;
(4) how similar the conduct was to the conduct on the property; and
(5) what publicity was given the occurrences to indicate that the landowner knew or should have known about them.

These have come to be known as the Timberwalk factors. With 21 burglaries since February at Park Avenue Apartments, a news story about the pistol whipping of the mother and daughter residents on Wednesday, a news article today, a visit to the Property Manager from a Channel 2 reporter who was kicked out and at least one resident who said she broke her lease and moved out due to concerns she had for her family’s safety, it certainly seems that Park Avenue Apartments is very much on notice that they have a crime problem on their property.

As of July 15, 2011, Park Avenue Apartments has 8 reviews showing up on Google and is rated by reviewers as 1.5 stars out of 5. The Park Avenue Apartments July 2011 community newsletter includes a crossword and a recipe for blueberry ice cream but does not warn or inform residents regarding criminal activity on the property.  The newsletter identifies the Property Manager as Shelly Porter and the Assistant Property Manager as Vanessa Schnell.

The Park Avenue Apartments complex brochure opening paragraph states: “Nothing offers more comfort than the pleasures of a cozy, secure and beautiful home, and nowhere offers a more ideal retreat than Park Avenue at Boulder Creek.”

Four-year old in serious condition after near drowning at Pine Lakes Apartments

15
Jun 2011
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Channel 13 Eyewitness News is reporting that a 4-year old boy narrowly escaped drowning when he slipped away from his mother and fell into a swimming pool at Pine Lakes apartments in North Houston on Greens Parkway near Sharmon. The little boy’s mom discovered him under the water, and when he was pulled out rescuers were able to resuscitate him. He was transported to hospital where he is in serious condition. Click2Houston.com’s report of the incident is available here and states the incident happened around 11:00pm when the mother was swimming and playing with her three children. When they had finished playing the mother took two of the children inside and had assumed the 4-year old has also gone inside with his aunt. She was unable to see that the 4-year old was in the pool because the water was discolored and the little boy has sunk to the bottom of the pool.

Ideally swimming pools are properly secured with a childproof fence and gate, whether it is a pool at a private residence or a shared pool at an apartment complex or fitness center. Swimming pools should also have rescue equipment on hand at all times, such as flotation devices or a pole that could be used by a non-swimmer to assist someone who has fallen in and needs help. Persons or businesses who control the pool area should make sure the pool and equipment are properly maintained, that warning signs are in place and that the pool does not pose a danger to those around it, particularly to children. If you live in a shared housing unit such as an apartment or condominium complex and you believe there are defects or dangers with the pool, you should notify building management right away, ideally in writing or by email. Discolored pool water poses a number of dangers, including an inability to see how deep the water is which may injure someone diving or jumping into the pool, and also the danger that some who falls into the pool cannot be seen.

Apartment balcony collapse in Kaufman kills Jose Martinez-Hernandez, 37

ABC Channel 13 news briefly reported a balcony collapse at an apartment complex in Kaufman, Texas that caused the death of 37-year old Jose Martinez-Hernandez. Kaufman is about 30 miles southeast of Dallas. Investigators say an engineer will inspect all of the balconies in the complex. The accident happened Saturday March 26th; Mr. Hernandez fell 12 feet. Reports from WFAA-TV indicate that residents of the complex say crews had been working on several balconies. That report identified the complex as Windtree Apartments in Kaufman.

Under Texas law, just because a person is injured on another’s property does not make the property owner automatically responsible for paying the injured person’s damages. There must be evidence of negligence on the part of the property owner and/or the person responsible for maintaining the property. Often in the context of an apartment complex a property management company is contracted by the owner of the complex to manage the apartments, including safety and maintenance. If you have been injured in a trip and fall or slip and fall incident on another person’s property and suspect the negligence of the property owner was the cause, call the experienced premises liability attorneys at Smith & Hassler for a free consultation.