Regardless of why someone owns real property, land ownership is never truly passive. As a landowner, you are responsible for what happens on your property when you hold it open to the general public, but also have obligations to people you invite, and sometimes to those who may be trespassing. At the same time, you have rights when you own property that others cannot infringe on. To effectively bring or defend a lawsuit or enforce your property rights, you need an experienced attorney who specializes in real estate litigation.
Premises Liability Lawsuits
If you own property, you may potentially be liable if someone else is injured on it. Owners often face premises liability claims for:
- Slips and falls
- Inadequate security
- Defective stairways
- Patio collapses
When you are facing one of these lawsuits, the plaintiff has the burden of proof. You are not an absolute guarantor of everyone’s safety when they are on your property. Instead, you have a legal obligation to act reasonably under the circumstances. The mere fact that someone was injured on your property does not mean that you did something wrong.
However, you need an experienced real estate attorney when you are facing premises liability lawsuits. There have been cases with large jury verdicts, and you cannot afford to take any risks. The plaintiff must have the evidence needed to prove their case, which means they must convince a judge or jury that the landowner was the cause of their loss. But they need more than just their own word to win their case. An experienced attorney can help you prevail.
We can help you marshal your proof if you are sued in a premises liability case, including by showing:
- The plaintiff was careless and responsible for their own injuries
- The condition that injured the plaintiff was open and obvious, and they should have known about it
- What you did or did not do was not the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injury
Enforcing Your Own Property Rights
Sometimes, as a real estate owner, you need to file a lawsuit yourself. You have the right to the use and enjoyment of your own property. If someone’s actions deny you that right, you have the legal ability to file a lawsuit. You can both seek damages and an injunction to get the conduct to stop.
One common type of lawsuit that a real estate owner will file is a nuisance lawsuit. This could be a lawsuit against an adjoining property owner or someone else who is doing something to interfere with the use of the real estate or that may lower its value. In some cases, a landowner will file a nuisance lawsuit when someone else is doing something that invades the landowner’s property without actually being physically present. Some examples of a nuisance lawsuit could include:
- Someone is continuously making loud noises that disturb those in the neighboring area. This could involve suing a nightclub or bar that has noisy patrons at all hours of the night or a neighboring homeowner who frequently has loud parties.
- A neighboring property owner is discharging pollution that makes its way onto your property and impacts your health or property value.
- Someone else is trespassing or encroaching on your property.
In order to win a nuisance lawsuit and get an injunction or damages, you must prove the defendant created an environment that interfered with your enjoyment of the property without your consent. You must also show that any reasonable person would be upset or annoyed with the defendant’s action and that you suffered damages.
Injunctions to Maintain Your Property
Real estate owners may also file a lawsuit to maintain the integrity of their property. Someone else may be taking actions that encroach on your property. Owners of neighboring properties may have boundary line disputes where one owner may have crossed the dividing line onto their neighbor’s property. Neighbors may have issues about where the boundary lines are or disputes because one owner has intentionally done something to move or cross a boundary line.
Land is a valuable asset. If someone is doing something that physically takes away some of your land or reduces your property value, they are taking value from you. The first thing to do is to get it to stop. If notifying the party and stating your position does not work, you will often have no other choice than to file a lawsuit. These are lawsuits where time is of the essence. The longer the conduct continues, the more it will impact the value of your property.
Call a Houston Real Estate Litigation Attorney
The David Toy Law Firm works with property owners to protect their legal rights. We can defend you if someone else has sued you for something that has happened on your property. We can also file a lawsuit on your behalf if someone else is interfering with your right to enjoy your property. Call us today at (713) 322-7911 or contact us online to discuss your legal issue and learn more about how we can help you.