Modified Comparative Fault is Question for Jury in Knoxville Appellate Case: Wilson v. TMBC

The Knoxville, Tennessee Court of Appeals has stated that the facts of a disputed premises liability case should be considered by a jury. In Wilson v. TMBC, LLC, a man returned his fishing boat to the company he purchased it from for repairs. Following the repair, he purportedly climbed onto his boat at the request of one of the store’s technicians to inspect the installation of a new part. While exiting the vessel, the man was apparently injured when he tripped and fell out of the fishing boat. According to the man, he stumbled over a piece of the boat that was discarded by a boat company employee during the repair. After the incident, the man filed a premises liability lawsuit against the business.

At trial, the boat company asked the district court to issue a directed verdict in its favor. According to the business, the man failed to prove the company breached a duty to him, and the man was at least 50 percent responsible for his injuries. In general, a directed verdict is only ordered after a court determines that no reasonable jury could return any other verdict. The court agreed with the business and entered a directed verdict in favor of the boat company. In response, the man filed an appeal with the Knoxville court.

The Court of Appeals overturned the trial court’s decision to issue a directed verdict in favor of the boat company. According to the appellate court, the injured man submitted sufficient evidence to support a jury’s finding that the boat company’s worker negligently caused his injury. Additionally, the Knoxville court stated the percentage of fault attributable to the man was a question of fact for jurors to decide. Since the trial court should not have issued a directed verdict in favor of the boat company based upon the facts of the case, the Court of Appeals vacated the lower court’s decision and remanded the case for a new trial.

Courts in Tennessee follow a modified comparative standard of fault. This means that someone who committed negligence must be more than 50 percent responsible for an accidental injury before a plaintiff may recover damages for his or her harm. In other words, a plaintiff may not recover for an injury that he or she was at least as responsible for causing as was a defendant.

In a Tennessee premises liability case, a property owner has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care in an effort to avoid causing injuries to individuals such as customers who are legally on their property. If you suffered an injury because a property owner breached this duty, you have a right to have your case heard by a judge or jury. To protect your legal rights, you should have a knowledgeable local premises liability attorney on your side to help pursue the damages your injuries merit.

Please call Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. at (865) 524-5657 if you were hurt as a result of a property owner’s negligent act. To schedule a time to discuss your case, you may also contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

Wilson v. TMBC, LLC, Tenn: Court of Appeals 2014

Related Blog Posts:

Blount County Case Highlights the Importance of Hiring the Right Car Accident Attorney: Brown v. Juarez, April 30, 2014, Knoxville Injury Lawyer Blog

Knoxville Court Reverses Premises Liability Dismissal Because Inadequate Lighting Could Be Actual Or Constructive Notice — Christian v. Ayers, April 23, 2014, Knoxville Injury Lawyer Blog


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