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Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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

While Tennessee premises liability law imposes a general duty of care on landowners, including those who own retail stores, restaurants, and the like, proving fault in a particular case can sometimes be a difficult endeavor. This is because slip and fall, trip and fall, and fall-down lawsuits tend to be extremely fact-specific.

Two customers who suffer identical injuries could have very difficult outcomes, depending on the particular hazard that caused their accident, how that hazard came to be, how long it had been in existence, and whether any store employee was aware of – or, in the exercise of due diligence, should have been aware of – the dangerous condition that led to the customer’s injuries.

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If you have kids, you may have noticed a disturbing trend among businesses and organizations that cater to young people; birthday party venues, sports team organizers, and even some churches are requiring a signed release before a child is allowed to participate in recreational activities and other “kid-friendly” events.

The reason, of course, is to attempt to avoid liability in the event that a child is hurt (or, even worse, killed) due to the negligence of the entity asking for the release. The practice is so prevalent that one would be led to think that liability insurance has ceased to be available in this country.

The fact is that liability insurance is widely available and, in most cases, quite affordable. (It’s called “a cost of doing business.”) If no insurance company is willing to assume a particular risk, perhaps this is an indication that the activity in question is too dangerous for minor children anyway.

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Negligence lawsuits are comprised of four basic elements:  duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation. Typically, the question of whether or not a duty existed in a particular case is a legal question that must be resolved by a judge, while the issue of whether that duty was, in fact, breached is a question for the trier of fact (the jury).

In a recent case, the plaintiff in a negligence action asserted that the defendant owed a duty to use due care in holding a ladder that the plaintiff was using, but the defendant denied that such a duty existed. (It should be noted that the parties to the litigation were a father and son, but, in reality, any judgment obtained by the son would likely be the responsibility of the father’s liability insurance company.)

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