School Bus Driver’s Slip and Fall Lawsuit Against City/County Government Survives Summary Judgment, Per Tennessee Court of Appeals

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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.

Facts of the Case

In a recent Tennessee Court of Appeals case, the plaintiff was a school bus driver who slipped and fell on a “buckled and cracked portion of the pavement” in a parking lot owned by the defendant city/county government. The plaintiff had parked her bus in the asphalt parking lot (which also served as a driver training range) at a school so that she could board a shuttle to travel to a training center located across campus. The bus driver filed suit against the government in the Circuit Court for Davidson County, alleging that the parking lot had been in a state of disrepair for a sufficient length of time such that the defendant either knew or should have known of its dangerous condition. She sought monetary compensation for her injuries. The circuit court granted summary judgment to the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed.

Holding of the Court

The Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Nashville reversed the circuit court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of the defendant. In so holding, the court found that the plaintiff had filed a motion to amend her complaint to include allegations of negligence per se, asserting that the defendant had violated various building codes by failing to maintain the parking lot where the plaintiff fell. However, the circuit court had failed to rule on the plaintiff’s motion before considering the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

The appellate court ruled that the circuit court had committed a reversible error in not ruling on the plaintiff’s pending motion prior to awarding summary judgment to the defendant. Accordingly, the court vacated the summary judgment order and remanded the case back to the trial court judge for consideration of the plaintiff’s motion to amend and for an order presenting a “reasoned explanation” for either granting or denying the amendment sought by the plaintiff.

Have You Been Hurt on Someone Else’s Property?

Experienced Knoxville premises liability attorney Mark Hartsoe at the Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C., can help if you or a loved one has been hurt in a fall in a store parking lot, retail establishment, mall, or other place of business. Talking to an attorney as soon as possible after such an accident is very important, since evidence quickly disappears in these types of cases; if you can’t prove that the landowner was negligent, you are unlikely to recover fair compensation. To schedule an appointment, call us now at 865-524-5657. We have offices in both Knoxville and Maryville; if necessary, we can also travel to your home to discuss your case.

Related Blog Posts:

Federal District Court Denies Summary Judgment to Tennessee Sporting Goods Store After Customer Falls in Parking Lot

Federal District Court Denies Summary Judgment in Tennessee Woman’s Premises Liability Case Against Retail Store

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