Legal Question in Personal Injury in Texas
If a shopper enters a storeroom marked "employees only - no admittance" and is told by the stockboy to leave because the area is dangerous and then the shopper is injured after she climbs to retrieve a box and the boxes fall on her is the store negligent?
1 Answer from Attorneys
The answer is never so black and white as a "yes" or a "no." When a patron is in a public area, they are considered an "invitee." When they go into a store room, they become a "trespasser." The duty owed to an invitee is much higher than that owed to a trespasser. Because public areas are made available to the public, the invitee is owed a duty of reasonable care--this means the store must conduct reasonable inspections to find dangerous conditions and either correct them or warn the public adequately so they can be avoided. For a trespasser, the duty is only to warn against known dangers. So if the patron can prove the store was actually aware the boxes were positioned dangerously so as to allow them to fall easily, they might be able to hold them liable. But if she agrees that she climbed up on a shelf where she wasn't supposed to be and pulled them onto her, its going to be tough. My experience is that the injured person and the store rarely agree on what the real facts were--which makes it a jury issue.