TENNESSEE PROPERTY OWNER LIABILITY FOR HARM FROM DANGEROUS PREMISES
Tennessee property owners can be liable for injuries suffered by persons lawfully on the property when the owner was negligent in maintenance.
The law of premises liability covers the legal responsibility of property owners for injury and property damage caused by dangerous conditions on their property. Broadly, a property owner has the duty to maintain reasonably safe premises to prevent injury to people lawfully there. Premises liability cases commonly arise in apartment buildings, stores, malls and similar places, both inside buildings and outside on sidewalks and land, and in parking lots.
In Tennessee, premises liability attaches when a property owner's negligence causes injury or property loss to someone legally on the property. Here are some common instances in which people are harmed by the negligent maintenance or repair by property owners:
- A person can trip and fall on a poorly maintained sidewalk
- A patron can slip on a piece of produce on a dirty grocery store floor
- A tenant's guest could fall on an uneven stair in the common area of an apartment building
- A customer could slip and fall in an icy parking lot after the owner failed to clear slippery precipitation
- A child visiting friends could be injured when he or she picks up a loaded gun unsecured in the host home
- A person could fall into an unmarked trench or hole
- A dead branch could fall off an untrimmed tree and hit someone
- A fire could start from a negligently maintained electrical system or appliance
- A furnace in disrepair could emit harmful carbon monoxide
- A child could be hurt when poorly maintained play equipment breaks
- An improperly restrained pet or farm animal could harm a postal worker or utility service worker
- A customer at a store could slip and fall on a wet, unmarked floor
A wall or building could collapse if improperly maintained
Negligent security is a subset of premises liability law in which a property owner can be responsible when a lawful guest on the property is the victim of a crime that could have been prevented by the owner's reasonable actions. For example, in a high crime area, the owner of a store parking lot should keep it well lit and have adequate security to keep patrons safe from property crimes and violent crimes; or in a dangerous neighborhood, the owner of an apartment building should keep renters safe by installing locks or bars on first floor windows.
Get Tennessee legal counsel
Any Tennessean who is harmed by the negligence of a property owner should seek legal advice from a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to understand the legal options for recovery. Early involvement by an experienced Tennessee premises liability attorney allows him or her to launch an aggressive investigation of the circumstances that led to the injury. Information may become unavailable if witnesses are not contacted or the property owner has time to make repairs before pictures are taken, expert examination is made or testing of evidence performed.
Once the investigation is complete, the attorney can discuss whether the injured party should file a premises liability lawsuit. Legal counsel can also deal with the involved insurance companies on behalf of a client, negotiate a settlement on the client's behalf or represent the client's interests at trial if necessary.