July 23, 2019

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Tennessee Premises Liability Law

Memphis Law Firms

Premises liability is the area of law that pertains to injuries sustained on someone else’s property. Property owners, business, owners, landlord, and others in control of property have a duty to provide a safe environment to customers, employees, guests, and others who are invited to the property, and to warn them about any hazards they may encounter.

Trespassers and Children

In Tennessee, there is no duty of care to provide safe conditions for adult trespassers, but property owner can be held responsible for intentionally creating hazards to trap or harm them (booby traps).

Children are a different story. Under the attractive nuisance doctrine and the playground doctrine, property owners have a duty to protect trespassing children from hazards, under certain circumstances.

The playground doctrine places responsibility on property owners who know that children regularly paly on their property, even if they are not supposed to. An attractive nuisance is a hazard that is likely to entice a child, such as a swimming pool, trampoline, or old car.

Slip and Fall Claims

Slip and fall, or trip and fall, is one of the most well-known types of premises liability, but often very misunderstood. Slip and fall injuries can be permanently debilitating and in some cases are fatal. Examples of hazards which can lead to an actionable slip and fall accident include:

  • Spills which are not cleaned up in a timely fashion
  • Floors which are slippery with residue from cleaning products, grease, and other substances
  • Slimy overgrowth due to filthy conditions, leading to slip and fall and often resulting in serious infection
  • Damaged flooring
  • Uneven flooring
  • Wet floors which are not marked with warning signs
  • Unmarked step up or step down
  • Poor lighting
  • Low obstacles
  • Open cabinets or drawers in pathway
  • Cords across pathway
  • Loose or bunched up rugs
  • Slick flooring materials
  • Damaged or missing banisters or railings
  • Porch collapse
  • Damaged stairs
  • Lack of fire exits
  • Faulty wiring and other conditions leading to fires

Comparative Negligence and “Open and Obvious”

Tennessee uses modified comparative fault, which means that if you are more than 49% to blame for your injuries, you cannot recover compensation.

Tennessee also allows the open and obvious defense in premises liability cases, meaning that if a hazard is easily seen and can be avoided, then the injured party assumes some or all of the blame for their own carelessness.

Defendants often try to use the open and obvious defense to bar premises liability claims, even when the hazard was not obvious at all.