Suppose you lose your footing at the base of a staircase in a shopping complex and plummet to the floor…knees first. Unfortunately, you didn’t spot a wet patch on the staircase, probably because it was dark. Though painful, you shrug it off. The next night, you are suddenly wakened by an excruciating pain in your back.
Maybe if that staircase wasn’t dark, you would have seen the water on it, and if you had seen the water, you might not have tripped over it. These are likely thoughts coming to your head when the doctor informs you of a sprained pelvis, and you connect the dots between your fall and injury.
After hospital bills, unpaid salary during time off work and some other losses incurred due to that fall, you are wondering if you can sue the company for damages you have suffered.
The ability of your slip and fall lawyer and yourself to substantiate three points is very critical to the case. These points are:
1. Liability: In carrying out their duty of care, the defendant was slack and neglectful
2. Negligence. The plaintiff was injured due to the negligence of duty by the defendant
3. Responsibility. A core aspect that brought about the plaintiff’s fall and subsequent injury was the breach of duty on the part of the defendant.
Duty of Care
Whenever carrying out an activity that could cause injury to another person, business and property owners have a duty of care in the state of Tennessee.
Different levels of duty of care are the responsibility of landlords on their buildings to all who enter them, whether tenants or visitors. Guests are the highest level of entrants and are all those who have been called upon to pay a visit to the building, either by the landlord or his tenants (whether those tenants are shop operators or residing in the building.). Maintenance and renovation of the building and property is an optimum duty of care the landlord has to carry out to prevent injuries to guests.
Building managers, tenants and trespassers are other levels of entrants to whom the premise owner has a certain level of duty of care to perform. Tenants are people who the landlord allows to be on his property when it is not a public place, and trespassers are people who enter property of others without prior consent of the owner. Keeping the property free from harm and regular maintenance activity is a limited duty of care the owner owes his tenants, as well as warning them of any dangers. As for trespassers, the property owner just has to refrain from intentionally causing harm, and no other duty of care is owed.
Under normal conditions, a worker or customer has a reasonable claim to being a guest. However, in a legal case, the safest bet you can have to claim damages has to be at least the status of why you are on the property.
Supposing you were on the property at a time you’re not supposed to be without the prior consent of the owner, the defense will play on that premise to persuade the jury that you were trespassing. Family members, social visitors are often put in the same category as tenants, not invitees.
It is essential to assert the fact that the defendant did not behave promptly in trying to avert the injury from happening, to prove negligence on the part of the defendant. Let’s say someone dumped a banana peel on the floor and shortly afterwards, you stumble and fall on the peel, the defense would claim the defendant had no amount of time to spot the banana peel and clean it up before your accident.
But if the banana peel was on the floor for thirty minutes or more before your accident, the judge/jury could conclude that the defendant was given an amount of time to find the problem and clean it up.
Was there a log showing regular checks on the property for dangers? Did poor lighting aid in causing the accident?
Did the plaintiff act carelessly or in any other manner that may have caused the accident? Over time, the claim of who takes responsibility for the accident has been the most difficult to prove. Did the defendant actually cause the accident?
A rule that allows the injured party to get back up to as much as 99% responsibility, but the volume of the damages given reduces appropriately. This rule is called the Comparative Fault Rule, and it is in effect in Tennessee.
A possible favorable judgment in court is on its way if your Tennessee slip and fall lawyer and you can fully assert the three clauses stated above.
Your Best Bet
Trying to stake a claim on this case is best done with a good lawyer, because it is usually a delicate case which could swing either way. Going on your own or with a fairly amateurish lawyer may not be so wise. It is best to call an experienced TN Personal Injury Lawyer who has dealt with Slip and Fall cases like Jeff Roberts. You can reach him at Jeff Roberts & Associates, PLLC at 615-425-4400.