Gatlinburg Premises Liability Lawyer
At home, people are responsible for their own safety, at least in most cases. That’s because people control their environments when they are at home. When people are away from home, they don’t control their environments. Since a landowner controls the environment, the landowner is responsible for safety. For example, landowners must provide reasonable security and otherwise ensure that their business or personal property is reasonably safe.
Unfortunately for victims, not all property owners take this responsibility seriously. In contrast, the diligent Gatlinburg premises liability lawyers at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette Attorneys at Law always take our responsibilities seriously. We begin by thoroughly reviewing your case and determining your legal options. Then, we collect evidence that establishes your claim and refutes insurance company defenses. Our responsibilities also include proactive communication with our clients. We make sure they are never in the dark.
Duty of Care
Legal responsibility, or duty of care, is the first element in a premises liability or other negligence case. We should point out that these claims don’t “blame” anyone for fall or other injuries. If Sally unintentionally knocks over her neighbor’s mailbox, she must pay compensation. Likewise, if Sally’s neighbor falls at her home, Sally must pay compensation, as outlined below.
First, let’s talk about the duty of care in a premises liability claim. Tennessee law divides victims into three categories, mostly based on the relationship between the landowner and victim:
- Invitee: In the Volunteer State, this category includes business invitees, like customers and vendors, as well as social invitees, like social guests. Since the landowner gave the victim permission to be on the land and the victim’s presence benefits the owner in some way, the owner has a duty of reasonable care. This legal responsibility is one of the highest legal duties in Tennessee.
- Licensee: Most premises liability victims are invitees. The other two categories are much smaller. Basically, a licensee has permission to be on the land, but there’s no owner benefit. Kids who cut across a parking lot on their way to the movies are licensees. In these cases, owners must only warn victims about latent (hidden) defects.
- Trespasser: Briefly, no permission and no benefit means no duty. Homeowners and business owners cannot set booby traps for burglars and other trespassers. But otherwise, these victims are responsible for their own safety, even if they are away from home. A few legal loopholes protect a few childs trespassers in some cases.
Compensation in a premises liability claim usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. A Gatlinburg premises liability lawyer can also obtain additional punitive damages in a few extreme cases.
Owners are only responsible for fall, negligent security, and other hazards if they knew about the problem. Tennessee courts allow direct or circumstantial evidence of knowledge. In either case, the victim must prove knowledge by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Because of the standard of proof, victim/plaintiffs need less proof in direct evidence cases. A single smoking gun, like a restroom cleaning report, could prove knowledge as a matter of law.
Circumstantial evidence claims require additional proof. Most attorneys use the time/notice rule to prove constructive knowledge (should have known). The longer a hazard existed, the more likely it is the owner should have known about it and should have done something about it. For example, if a leaf of lettuce falls onto a grocery store floor, if the lettuce was crisp when the victim fell, the hazard probably just happened. But if the lettuce was wilted, it had probably been on the floor awhile, which means someone should have cleaned it up.
Contact an Experienced Sevier County Lawyer
Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Gatlinburg premises liability lawyer, contact Fox Farley Willis & Burnette Attorneys at Law by going online or calling 865-500-HURT. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.