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Can I Sue a Business if I Was Hurt on Their Property?

Law Office of Joshua S. Reed July 27, 2023

Every day in Tennessee, millions of people patronize businesses. Those businesses may be retail, service, professional, healthcare, or manufacturing. You take for granted that visiting a business will be safe, but what if it is not? What if you are injured while you are on property maintained by that business?

Hundreds of premises liability claims are filed by injured business patrons in Tennessee every year. Nationally, of those cases that go to trial, the injury victim prevails less than 40% of the time. This statistic indicates how difficult premises liability claims can be. For that reason, if you are hurt while on a business property, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you, like the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed. 

If you want to pursue a premises liability claim if you have been injured on a business’s property in Knoxville or Farragut, Tennessee, or in Anderson, Blount, Clinton, Maryville, Oak Ridge, or Union counties, we can help. 

What Are Premises Liability Claims? 

Property owners owe a reasonable duty of care to eliminate unsafe conditions on the property, thus helping ensure the safety of those who visit it. When hazards on the property cause injury to someone, those responsible for maintaining it are liable under Tennessee law. 

For example, a grocery store has a duty to keep aisles clear of tripping hazards that may cause a shopper to trip and fall. A convenience store should keep floors free of substances that may cause someone to slip and fall. A business must keep stairs and handrails in good condition for customer safety. Snow, ice, and slick hazards should be monitored and remediated to make walking safe for patrons. 

If you are injured in an event caused by an unsafe condition or hazard, you can hold the business liable for the damages you incur, such as medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.  

What Constitutes Liability of a Tennessee Business? 

A Tennessee property owner's duty of care is a reasonable one. In other words, the business should remove or warn of hazards that a reasonable person would know to be unsafe. The burden of proof of liability rests with the injury victim pursuing a personal injury claim or suing the business in a personal injury lawsuit. Evidence must prove the business knew about a dangerous condition or should have known about it, but failed to correct it or provide adequate warning of it. This isn’t always easy to prove.  

For example, if it begins to snow, the property owner should reasonably know the sidewalk may become hazardous for patrons. The owner should therefore begin to remediate the dangerous situation by clearing and salting the sidewalks. If they do not, and someone slips, falls, and is injured, the owner is liable for their damages. However, the owner is also given time to address the hazardous condition. If it just began snowing when the patron slipped, a claim may be difficult to prove. 

Another business owner has crumbling concrete steps in front of their business. The owner does not repair the steps or place cones or other warnings near the hazard. If a patron comes out of the business and falls due to the crumbling steps, the owner may be liable for their lack of diligence in addressing the problem. 

While Tennessee liability laws protect those invited onto someone’s property, it doesn’t protect those who are injured while trespassing, with one exception. The exception is referred to as the “attractive nuisance doctrine,” and applies largely to children. If there is something on the property that attracts a child onto it and the child is injured due to a hazard while there, a personal injury claim may still be pursued, even if the child was on the property without permission. An attractive nuisance may be a pool, a dog, cat, or other animal, an abandoned appliance, or something else that a child would be curious about. Business owners have a responsibility to keep their property free of such nuisances.

What Should I Know About Filing a Personal Injury Claim?

One of the most important things you should know about personal injury claims in Tennessee is that you have only one year from the date of the accident that caused your injury to sue the negligent parties. Within that year, you must either settle your premises liability claim with the business owner’s insurance company or file a civil suit against the business in court. Once suit is filed, the clock on the statute of limitations stops ticking. Some cases take months or even years to go to trial, and you can still settle with the insurance company even after you have filed a lawsuit. 

You should also be aware of Tennessee’s observance of comparative negligence, which can hold you partly responsible for the injury-causing accident. If you are, your settlement will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you. 

For example, if a business did not salt an icy sidewalk during the period after it began to get icy, but you ran down the sidewalk to enter the business, slipped on the ice, and fell, you could be found partially at fault. Of course, the business had a responsibility to salt the sidewalk, but because you should have known that the surface might be slick, you should not have been running. 

Put an Experienced Attorney in Your Corner 

If pursuing a premises liability claim appears to be daunting to you, don’t walk away from one without consulting the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed. We tackle difficult personal injury claims every single day, so we should talk about yours. If a business’s negligence caused your injuries and damages, you deserve compensation.  

If you have been injured on a business premises in Knoxville, Farragut, or the surrounding Tennessee counties, put some muscle in your corner. Call the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed now.