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Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Proving liability in a Knoxville slip and fall case can be difficult. The landowner or store operate predictably blames the plaintiff for the fall in most cases, denying any liability for their own negligence.

During the pretrial phase of the litigation, the trial court is often called upon to decide whether the plaintiff has enough evidence to take the case to trial in front of a jury. Unless there is a genuine issue of material fact appropriate for the consideration of the jury, the case may be dismissed prior to trial.

In many cases, it is the defendant who creates and maintains custody of such evidence – such as video surveillance, witness statements, photographs, and the like. Because this evidence is so vitally important to the plaintiff in building his or her negligence case, there can be serious consequences for a defendant who “loses” such evidence.

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Those who operate retail establishments such as stores or shoppes, owners of restaurants and bars, and other businesses are responsible for providing a reasonably safe environment to those who come onto their premises for a business purpose. When this duty is breached, a Knoxville premises liability lawsuit may result.

In such a case, the plaintiff has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant’s breach of the duty of care was the proximate cause of his or her injuries. If this burden is met, the plaintiff may be awarded substantial money damages for his or her pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses.

Premises liability claims must be promptly and thoroughly investigated, preferably by a person with the plaintiff’s best interests in mind. If an investigation is left up to the defendant and its insurance company, it may be difficult for the plaintiff to prove his or her case in court later on. For this reason, it is important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible if you have been hurt on someone else’s property.

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Seeking fair compensation following an east Tennessee slip and fall accident can be a complex endeavor. Depending upon the circumstances, there may be multiple defendants, some of whom point the finger of blame at one another. In some situations, one or more of the defendants may seek to avoid liability by relying on a particular statute. One possible statute that may prevent an injured party from seeking compensation for his or her injuries is the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act, which prevents an employee from suing his or her employer for negligence in most circumstances. When a plaintiff is able to make out a viable case of negligence against a property owner, he or she may be able to recover payment for several different types of money damages for his or her physical injuries.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appellate court case originating in the Circuit Court for Hawkins County, Tennessee, the plaintiff was a man who was injured in a fall while helping build a house for the defendant landowner. The plaintiff brought a negligence action against the defendant, seeking compensation for his medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages caused by the fall. In explaining why he did not seek workers’ compensation benefits, the plaintiff averred that the defendant had failed to have a certificate of insurability and had not insured him at the time of the accident; according to the plaintiff, his appropriate remedy was thus in tort, not in workers’ compensation.

The case proceeded to a jury trial, during which the defendant attempted to point the blame for the plaintiff’s injuries toward a third-party who was not involved in the lawsuit. According to the defendant, this third party was a handyman who was helping the defendant build the house. The jury found that the plaintiff was the employee of the handyman rather than the defendant, that the handyman was 60% at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries, that the plaintiff was 30% at fault for his injuries, that the defendant was 10% at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries, and that the plaintiff was not entitled to any money damages. The plaintiff appealed.

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A Tennessee personal injury case can involve multiple defendants, some of whom may point to finger of blame at one or more of the others. In some situations, the plaintiff may be able to settle his or her claim(s) against one or more of the defendants, leaving the defendants to continue to fight among themselves about how much each rightfully owes. When this happens, it is not usual for a liability insurance company to be substituted as a real party in interest.

Facts of the Case

In a federal district court case in which a decision was issued earlier this year, the plaintiff was man who was reportedly electrocuted while working at a fair and music festival in Memphis in 2016. The accident happened when a ride that was plugged into the same generator as the ride upon which the plaintiff was working became energized by an overhead powerline, causing electricity to flow through the first ride, through the generator, through the second ride, and into the plaintiff’s body.

The plaintiff brought suit against four different amusement companies in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Two of the defendants brought crossclaims against a third defendant, seeking indemnification and a defense. That defendant sought summary judgment on the crossclaims, urging that its contract with one of the two defendants did not obligate it to indemnify the two defendants for their defense costs in the case. The plaintiff and the two defendants filed a joint motion to dismiss the crossclaims based on a settlement agreement. As part of the settlement agreement, the plaintiff had the right to purchase an annuity; the first two defendants paid $2,075,000 to fund the annuity. The other two defendants did not contribute to the settlement payment.

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Negligence can arise in many different contexts – automobile accidents, medical malpractice, and even situations in which someone slips and falls on business premises. Slip and fall (or “premises liability” cases) are often hotly disputed, as the landowner typically seeks to avoid liability for the accident by casting blame on the injured party. However, some east Tennessee premises liability cases are successful, resulting in an award of monetary compensation to the plaintiff, so it is important to talk to a lawyer if you think you may have a claim.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a visitor who reportedly slipped and fell in an icy parking lot at the defendant hospital. The plaintiff had been at the hospital for some 12 hours on the day of her fall (for the birth of a grandchild); at the time of her arrival, the parking lot appeared wet but did not contain snow or ice. As the plaintiff returned her car that evening, she walked between two parked vehicles, slipping on a patch of ice that had apparently refrozen during the evening hours and fracturing her patella.

According to the plaintiff’s allegations in her complaint against the defendant, the defendant was negligent because it failed to remedy the dangerous condition created by accumulated ice in its parking lot, insomuch as it did not take affirmative steps to prevent melted snow from refreezing prior to the time of the plaintiff’s fall. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which the circuit court granted. The plaintiff appealed.
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Slip and fall accidents are common in grocery stores and supermarkets. In a Knoxville premises liability lawsuit arising from such an incident, the plaintiff has the burden of proof in establishing the defendant’s negligence. In order to prove negligence, the plaintiff must show that the defendant breached a duty of care that was owed to him or her and that he or she was injured as a proximate result.

In some cases, the plaintiff may alternatively allege that the defendant’s conduct rose to the level of recklessness – a more serious allegation that can possibly result in punitive damages. Not surprisingly, most defendants will staunchly resist such an allegation. It is the trial court’s job to determine whether or not the facts of a given case are such that a plaintiff’s recklessness claim may proceed.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant grocery store after he allegedly slipped and fell in water left behind by a floor-cleaning machine. In his complaint for compensatory and punitive damages, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant was both negligent and reckless. More specifically, he asserted that the defendant had used a machine that left water behind while it operated, that the defendant failed to schedule routine maintenance on its cleaning machines, that the defendant’s conduct created a hazardous condition that was not readily observable by its customers, that the defendant failed to post warnings about the dangers caused by the cleaning machine, that the defendant failed to develop or implement policies to prevent the risk of harm to customers, that the defendant had acted recklessly in failing to properly maintain its fleet of floor cleaners because the defendant routinely failed to replace the “squeegee” parts of the machines (which had a life of two to three months) until they were worn out and leaving water on the floor, and that the defendant was aware of – but consciously disregarded – the risk of injury. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss or strike the plaintiff’s punitive damages claims.

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When someone is hurt by the negligence of a corporation, the injured person may have multiple options as to where to file his or her claim. Generally speaking, most such claims are filed in a state court in the county in which the accident occurred.

However, in some cases, the plaintiff may prefer that his or her claim be filed in federal court, providing that there is diversity of citizenship between the parties and that personal jurisdiction exists.

The defendant in a federal case may resist jurisdiction and/or venue for one reason or another. In such an event, the district court in which the action is initially filed must decide whether it does, in fact, have diversity jurisdiction over the case and whether venue is proper in that particular court.

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A Knoxville or Maryville slip and fall accident can cause serious, debilitating injuries. Medical expenses can be considerable, and the plaintiff’s inability to work while he or she recovers can put a family into a financial hardship from which recovery is difficult.

If someone else’s negligence caused the fall, the plaintiff should consider speaking to an attorney about filing a lawsuit seeking compensation for what he or she has been through. As with other personal injury cases, time is of the essence.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appellate court case, the plaintiff was a middle school teacher employed by the defendant school system. In December 2014, she slipped and fell in the hallway outside her classroom. The floor had been mopped by the school’s custodians, but the teacher, who was in her classroom during the time they were mopping, was unaware that the hallway was wet. Although the custodians placed “wet floor” signs in the hallway, they placed them only on the the left side of the hallway, even though they mopped the entire hallway. At trial, the teacher testified that she did not see the signs. Continue reading

An east Tennessee premises liability case can arise from many different types of dangerous conditions – a slippery floor, a broken staircase, etc. In such cases, the plaintiff has the burden of proving liability.

This means that the plaintiff must provide evidence that shows that the defendant either knew of, or should have known of, the dangerous condition but did not take reasonable steps to remedy the situation.

Facts of the Case

In a recent premises liability case arising in Tipton County, the plaintiff was a construction worker who fell from scaffolding while working in a factory owned by the defendant. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was working for a sub-contractor of a company that had been hired to renovate the defendant’s warehouse. The plaintiff was using an electric screw gun powered by a 100 foot extension cord. As the plaintiff was working with the screw gun, the defendant’s employees continued to move products around the warehouse using a forklift. The forklift driver apparently did not see the plaintiff or the extension cord and drove the forklift in such a manner that it became entangled with the cord. The plaintiff fell approximately 10 feet, causing him serious injuries. Continue reading

When someone is hurt on another person’s property, the injured person may file a lawsuit seeking monetary compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages. The burden of proof is always on the plaintiff in an east Tennessee slip and fall case, however, and being successful at trial can be a very challenging task.

A seasoned personal injury attorney can help the injured person navigate the difficulties and potential pitfalls of a premises liability case seeking compensation for injuries suffered in a fall or other accident on a landowner or business’ property.

Facts of the Case

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