Tennessee Premises Liability and Your Rights
Perhaps you or someone you know has been injured in an accident occurring away from your Tennessee home. You feel as if the owner of the property was negligent and caused your injury, but you are not sure. If you are correct, then you may have the legal right to bring suit. The laws governing this right are referred to as "premises liability."
What Is Premises Liability?
Basically, premises liability refers to the liability a landowner has for certain "torts," or damages, caused by many different conditions. The one thing all these conditions have in common is the fact that they are hazardous. Here are some common hazardous conditions that could lead to a premises liability lawsuit:
- Open excavations
- Uneven or damaged pavement
- Poor lighting
- Poor security
- Defective seating, such as chairs and benches
- Icy walking surfaces
- Standing water and/or wet walking surfaces
- Falling objects
The list can go on and on. But when you are injured by one of these conditions, and the injury could have been prevented by maintenance, premises liability law comes into play.
How Premises Liability Cases Are Born
Most of us spend much time outside our homes in the course of a normal day. And, of course, we are often on someone else's property. The law must decide why we are on that property in order to decide if someone was negligent when we are injured. There are four basic reasons for being on property other than your own. These four designations are:
- Invitee: A person who is invited onto someone else's property. For instance, if you enter a store to shop and slip on a wet, unmarked floor, then your legal status is invitee.
- Social Guest: This designation is pretty much what it seems. You are visiting a location with the direct permission of the owner. However, it is important to note that a social guest can be an invitee or a licensee.
- Licensee: A licensee is a person who is on the property by authority of law or by consent. An example would be a firefighter called to put out a fire.
- Trespasser: A trespasser enters a property without any right to do so. Surprisingly, the property owner can sometimes still be held liable if he or she knew that a trespass might occur and that a dangerous condition existed.
In order to successfully pursue a legal claim against a property owner, the injured party must prove that:
- The defendant is the legal owner of the property.
- The plaintiff is either an invitee or licensee to the property (except in rare instances in which a trespasser has brought suit).
- There was negligence that directly contributed to the injury.
When all these pieces are in place, a premises liability lawsuit is born.
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What You Should Do If It Happens to You
Many times we tend to let things go when, instead, we should be playing a more active role in our rights. Premises liability is one area of law that people sometimes let slide. Here are five things you should keep in mind if you are seriously injured on someone else's property:
- Do not blame yourself for clumsiness, awkwardness, or stupidity when some simple upkeep of the premises could have prevented your injury.
- Go to the doctor right away. By delaying medical attention, you could be missing a statute of limitations, not to mention making your condition worse.
- Get information from witnesses to your accident who saw the whole thing. Get their names and contact information. When you realize your medical bills may never be paid, it may be too late to begin gathering evidence.
- Do not sign the incident report right away when you are given one by the manager or security personnel in a store. Instead, thank them and explain that you will have to look it over later.
- Call a lawyer. If the injuries you sustain are serious and you fear that massive medical bills, loss of work, and pain are in your future, then you need legal advice as soon as possible.
At Bailey & Greer, we are experienced in all sorts of Tennessee premises liability cases. We know the pain and suffering that can come with life-changing injury or the death of a loved one. We offer the comfort and security of knowing that those who are to blame will be held responsible for your damages.
Call toll free today at 901-680-9777 to set up a free initial consultation. Don't wait until it is too late.
Bailey & Greer represents people with personal injury claims in Tennessee and Mississippi, including Memphis, Germantown, Bartlett, Cordova, Collierville, Arlington, Lakeland, and all of Shelby, Fayette, and Tipton counties.We have also handled cases in Arkansas, Georgia, and Missouri.