Slip and fall accidents are some of the most difficult personal injury claims to win. Victims are often not taken seriously—by the property owner, doctors, or their own family—and the claim of negligence can be very hard to prove. However, if you are seriously injured in a fall in a store or restaurant, you should not let these obstacles prevent you from at least consulting an experienced attorney about whether you have a case or not. You could be owed compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, and you do not want to throw that away because an uninformed person convinces you that you don’t stand a chance of winning.
What We Will Help You Prove
In Tennessee, as in other states, slip and fall accidents fall under an area of the law known as premises liability. Any time unsafe or hazardous conditions on somebody’s property result in a visitor’s injuries, the owner could be held liable. This includes incidents such as dog bites, swimming pool accidents, assaults, elevator accidents, and more. In a slip and fall or trip and fall accident, it must be shown that a hazard such as spilled liquid, snow or ice, torn carpeting, broken stairs or handrail, or unsecured electrical cords caused your fall. This is not as simple as it may seem. In a Tennessee premises liability claim, you must prove all of the following:
- The property owner was negligent. You must show that the owner or manager of the property created or permitted a dangerous condition to exist on the premises. For example, if an employee mopped up an area of a grocery store and failed to put up a warning sign indicating that the floor is slippery, this could be considered negligence.
- The dangerous condition caused your injury. You must be able to provide a direct link between the hazard and the fall that caused your injury. For example, you slipped on spilled liquid, fell to the ground, and broke your arm.
- The owner knew about the hazard. The final—and often most difficult—point you must prove is that the owner or manager knew or should have known about the dangerous condition that caused your fall and did not do anything to fix it. On a snowy day, for example, a manager should know that the walkway to his building will be hazardous and should take action to make it safe.
The insurance company and lawyers for the property owner will fight you on all three of these points, but our team will gather evidence necessary to prove your case, such as witness statements, surveillance video, medical records, and expert testimony.
Who Is Protected in Tennessee?
Slip and fall laws do not apply to everyone who may be injured on someone’s property. Traditionally, property owners only have a duty of care to invitees and licensees. If a trespasser or intruder is injured, he or she cannot hold the property owner responsible. Over the decades, Tennessee courts have modified the rules regarding premises liability. During this time, some premises liability legal definitions you may see from time to time include:
- An invitee is a person who comes to a property for a purpose that is mutually beneficial to both parties, such as someone going to a store, movie theater, or work. Invitees are entitled to the highest level of care.
- A licensee is a social visitor who is welcome on someone’s property without necessarily having been invited, such as a friend or neighbor.
- A trespasser is someone who is not welcome on the premises. While the property owner cannot intentionally injure the trespasser, if the intruder is injured in a slip and fall, the property owner is not liable.
You may find your motives for being on the property questioned by the owner or his lawyers in order to avoid responsibility for your injuries, but we will be by your side to protect your right to a recovery.
Contact Our Premises Liability Lawyers for a Free Consultation
It can be hard to know what your rights are when you are injured on someone else’s property. Call our Smyrna office to schedule a meeting with our attorneys to discuss your options. We proudly serve the cities of Nashville, La Vergne, Smyrna, Murfreesboro, Franklin, Chattanooga, and ALL Tennessee residents.