Premises liability is a legal concept that governs when a property owner is liable for an injury that occurs on their property.
All states have premises liability laws, but the specifics of the law differ from state to state.
In this article, we'll look at the premises liability laws in Tennessee.
Premises liability comes into play any time someone is injured on someone else's property. The most common example is when a person slips and falls on someone else's property (commonly referred to as a "slip and fall" case). But there are countless situations that could implicate premises liability laws, including:
In Tennessee, property owners have a duty to exercise "reasonable care" to protect people on their property from "unreasonable risks of harm."
If a property owner fails to exercise reasonable care, the property owner will be liable for any harm that results.
"Reasonable care" is a legal term, so what does it actually mean? What does a property owner need to do to keep visitors safe?
Let's look at the following real-life example:
There are 3 defenses that are commonly raised in premises liability claims:
Tennessee allows plaintiffs to recover both economic and non-economic damages:
In rare cases, when the defendant acted maliciously, fraudulently, or recklessly, plaintiffs may be able to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish defendants and deter similar actions in the future.
In most cases, Tennessee law caps the amount of non-economic damages you can receive at $750,000 and the amount of punitive damages you can receive at $500,000. However, if you suffer a catastrophic injury, the non-economic damage cap is increased to $1 million.
Tennessee has a "statute of limitations," which sets forth the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. If you fail to file a lawsuit by the deadline, you are permanently barred from filing the lawsuit.
For most premises liability cases, the statute of limitations is 1 year.
In other words, you have 1 year from the date of your injury to file your lawsuit.
Still have questions?
Take a look at our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about premises liability below:
It doesn't usually snow a lot in Tennessee, but even a little bit of snow can be dangerous. Property owners are responsible for shoveling snow (which is considered a dangerous condition). However, Tennessee courts have held that property owners have a reasonable amount of time to do so.
In Clifford v. Crye Leike Inc., the Tennessee Court of Appeals held that the defendant didn't act unreasonably when the landowner decided not to start removing accumulated snow until after the storm subsided.
The government owns property all over Tennessee, from public parks to the post office to public roads. The same premises liability laws apply to government-owned property as apply to privately-owned property. There are, however, certain procedural differences, including a pre-suit notice requirement. If you plan on suing the government, talk to an attorney who has experience doing so first.
Under Tennessee law, property owners don't owe a duty of care to trespassers.
However, a different rule applies if the trespasser is a child. Under the attractive nuisance rule, a property owner can be held liable to a trespassing child if:
The attractive nuisance doctrine is most commonly raised in cases in which children are injured in swimming pools.
Property owners have a duty to minimize dangerous conditions that they should know about, including criminal acts. If considering whether or not a property owner is liable for the criminal act of a third party, the court will consider:
Premises liability cases can be complex, especially when the property owner is a corporation or government entity. You can locate an experienced Tennessee attorney in the Enjuris Lawyer Directory.
Once you've located an attorney, take a few minutes to prepare for your first meeting.
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more