Capitol Research Services of Texas > Reports

Premises Liability

  • Floor Amendment to Senate Bill 28 (1995)
  • Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code, ch. 95
  • Report: 34 pages
  • Transcripts: 41 pages
  • Other Documents: 125 pages
  • Fee: $195

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In 1995, several bills were passed by the Texas Legislature that comprehensively overhauled the tort system of Texas. Among these were S.B. 28 which primarily made amendments to joint and several liability law in Chapter 33, Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code.

Also during that session, H.B. 2279 regarding third party liability was filed. A hearing was held on the bill. Although H.B.2279 died in committee, an amendment was derived from it to address premise liability. This amendment was added to S.B. 28 on the House floor.

Rep. Combs explained her floor amendment to the House, in part, as follows:

REP. SUSAN COMBS: Mr. Speaker, Members, as you know I was very interested this session in working on an issue called third party liability, which is House Bill 2279. However, ah, this is, the amendment that I am laying out is not that but I think it is a good solu--good compromise. What this does, is it deals with the issue of a property owner who wants something constructed on his or her property. Whether the property owner is a corporation or not is irrelevant. What this says is, if you, the property owner, sign a contract with some group of people to build something and you did not have a great deal of control. You did not exercise or retain control over the manner in which the work in performed --


What this proposed amendment does is it recognizes the fact that there are a number of property owners who do not exercise control over construction projects beyond simply hiring someone to do it and who do not have any actual knowledge of any defect on the property. In that case, there is, there is no liability to that property owner for personal injury, death, or property damage to a contractor, subcontractor, or an employee of those, who is working on that piece of property who constructs, repairs, et cetera, an improvement on there. The key thing to remember here is that if the property owner did -- does have actual knowledge of a danger or a condition that leads to the injury, then they are exposed to liability. or if the property owner exercises control over it -- it's and "and" -- I'm sorry, you have to have both. The property is not immune or exempt from liability if they have exercised control and have actual knowledge of the danger. And this is to reflect the circumstance where someone will try to hire someone. Says, "Please go and do this." They may not live any place nearby. They are not aware of any conditions. They're exercising no control. And it's good public policy not to be liable.

As a practical legal matter, what this does is it puts into place the definition now called "licensee." We have three levels of liability that can be asserted against a property owner. If an individual is a "trespasser" versus an "invitee" versus a "licensees." Present law exposes a premises owner to liability under invitee standard where there was actual negligence. Here it's a little -- it's a higher standard. The premises owner must have had actual knowledge.



1. Tex. S.B. 28, 74th Leg., R.S. Master Bill History Report (1995)

2. Tex. S.B. 28, As Introduced, 74th Leg., R.S. (1995)

3. Tex. S.B. 28, Senate Committee Report, 74th Leg., R.S. (1995)

4. Tex. S.B. 28, House Committee Report, 74th Leg., R.S. (1995)

5. Tex. H.B. 4, 74th Leg., R.S. Master Bill History Report (1995)

6. Tex. H.B. 2279, 74th Leg., R.S. Master Bill History Report (1995)

7. Tex. H.B. 2279, As Introduced, 74th Leg., R.S. (1995)

8. CAPITOL RESEARCH SERVICES, Hearings on Tex. H.B. 2279 before the House Committee on State Affairs, 74th Leg., R.S., Tapes 2-3, Transcript (April 4, 1995)

9. S.J. of Tex., 74th Leg., R.S. 411-413, 1829-1832 (1995)

10. HOUSE RESEARCH ORGANIZATION, Tex. S.B. 28 Bill Analysis (May 3, 1995)

11. H.J. of Tex., 74th Leg., R.S. 1788-1792, 1823-1824 (1995)

12. Act of May 18, 1995, 74th Leg., R.S., ch. 136, 1995 Tex. Gen. Laws, 971

13. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann., ch. 95 (Vernon 1997)