Premises Liability Attorney in Winchester & Tullahoma
A hazard on a personal or professional property that causes injury could be grounds for a premises liability case. This type of personal injury case requires the injured party to prove that the person responsible for the property owed a duty of care and was negligent in performing that duty.
Premises liability cases often arise after slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents in supermarkets and restaurants. Spills and debris on floors have been known to cause many falling injuries, and in such cases, a court will consider whether the person responsible for the property knew about the hazard, whether injury was foreseeable, and, if so, what the gravity of a resulting injury might be.
For plaintiffs, a favorable outcome in a premises liability case depends in large part upon their lawyer’s ability to prove someone’s behavior or inaction meets all the factors that constitute negligence. John R. Colvin has years of experience successfully representing plaintiffs in Tennessee premises liability cases.
If you think you might have a case, call our office today for a no-cost consultation, at (931) 962-1044.
In premises liability cases, a court considers the ‘foreseeability’ of injury, meaning whether a property manager knew injury was a likely outcome of some defect or hazard. But simply proving that an injury was foreseeable is not necessarily grounds for negligence. Some other factors that determine negligence are:
- The magnitude of the foreseeable injury
- The importance or social value of the defendant’s activity
- Whether safer, alternative conduct was a reasonable, affordable option.
Those points were discussed in detail in a Tennessee Supreme Court opinion from 2009 regarding landlord liability.
In that case, the court reviewed whether the Memphis Housing Authority owed a duty of care to a tenant who was killed by a stray bullet when another tenant fired a gun at someone during an argument. To establish whether a duty of care existed, the court first considered whether the MHA knew of the risk to its tenants.
The man who fired the gun had previously used a knife to attack another tenant. He then harassed the victim over a period of time. The MHA was aware of his behavior, and according to its own policies should have evicted him after the knife attack.
The supreme court found that although the law provides some protection for the MHA because public housing serves a social value, safer conduct – in this case, evicting someone who was a danger to others – was a reasonable expectation. And because the MHA was aware of the shooter’s tendency toward violence, a serious injury was foreseeable. The court’s opinion reversed a previous Tennessee Court of Appeals judgment in favor of the MHA.
Limits on Tennessee Premises Liability Claims
Tennessee civil code states a landowner owes no duty of care to a trespasser, other than to avoid deliberately and “wantonly” injuring that person. However, a different rule applies if the trespasser is a child.
A landowner who is aware of a hazard on his property that is likely to attract children, and who knows that hazard poses a risk of serious injury or death, could be found liable in an accident. This law, which is also called the attractive nuisance doctrine, holds that children may be unaware of risks and their severity, when they trespass on a property because they were lured by a hazard.
Finding Fault in Property Premises Liability
In another Tennessee Supreme Court case that tests the boundaries of negligence, the court found a trial court erred when it granted a retailer’s motion to dismiss.
The plaintiff in this case was a woman who was in a store parking lot, putting groceries into the trunk of her car when a drunk driver backed into her, pinning her between the two cars. Prior to the accident, the driver had tried to fill a prescription inside the store, but the pharmacy staff believed she was intoxicated and asked her to leave. According to staff, the woman had on previous occasions been in the store while intoxicated.
The supreme court found the store owed a duty of care to protect the public from the intoxicated woman. But because the store’s staff allowed the drunk woman to leave, knowing she would be driving, and did not contact the police, the court found the store was grossly negligent.
Pushing for Accountability
Whether it’s due to an error in judgment or a deliberate disregard for safety, when someone’s actions or inaction causes injury to others, that person should be held accountable.
If you’ve been injured because of a danger on another’s property, you may be entitled to compensation. Schedule your free consultation today – fill out our contact form, or call us at (931) 962-1044.