Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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

Ideally, an east Tennessee personal injury lawsuit would proceed as follows:   the plaintiff files the complaint, the defendant files an answer, the case is tried, a judgment is entered, and the case is over. Unfortunately, things do not always work out that way.

A case recently considered by the Tennessee Court of Appeals definitely did not proceed in the usual fashion. It involved two separation actions in general sessions court, two appeals to circuit court, and yet another appeal to the court of appeals. Perhaps not surprisingly, the case still isn’t over.

Facts of the Case

When someone falls in a store or in another place of business, there may be multiple parties who could potentially be named as defendants – corporations, subsidiaries, parent companies, holding companies, land management companies… the list goes on and on.

When an east Tennessee premises liability lawsuit is filed against multiple defendants, some of those parties may be dismissed, either voluntarily as part of the plaintiff’s litigation strategy or by the trial court on motion of the defendant(s). In cases of a voluntary dismissal, the plaintiff may have the option of refiling the claim within a certain time period.

Additionally, when a defendant asserts fault by a non-party as part of a comparative fault defense, the plaintiff may be able to amend his or her complaint to add those individuals or businesses as party defendants.

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Serious injuries can result from a fall on another party’s property – broken bones, sprains, strains, disc herniations, and other, sometimes permanently disabling medical problems can all occur when premises are not maintained in a reasonably safe condition.

In an east Tennessee premises liability lawsuit, a person injured on another party’s property may seek compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering caused by the fall.

However, the burden of proof in a slip and fall case is always on the plaintiff – the injured person – to prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. Often, such cases fail for lack of proof, not because the defendant was not negligent but because the plaintiff was unable to provide competent evidence of the defendant’s breach of the duty of due care.

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Not every lawsuit is concluded by a jury’s verdict in favor of one party or another. While many cases are settled through an agreement between the parties, some are resolved via a legal proceeding known as a “motion for summary judgment.”

When a defendant files such a motion in a negligence case, including an East Tennessee slip and fall case, the argument is that, even if all of the factual disputes are resolved in the plaintiff’s favor, the defendant cannot be held liable. There is judicial economy in motions for summary judgment in that a case is resolved without the need for a jury to determine factual disagreements; however, a motion can only be granted if the opposing party could not win his or her case even if the jury found all of the factual disputes in his or her favor.

Facts of the Case

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