Is a Leaky Bathroom Faucet Always a “Dangerous Condition”?
When you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident as the result of a property owner’s failure to correct a known dangerous condition on their premises, you have the right to seek compensation for your personal injuries. It is critical to understand, however, that not all hazards are legally classified as dangerous conditions. Tennessee courts have repeatedly made it clear that a business owner is not legally obligated to protect its customers from “any or all risks.” Rather, an owner is only liable when for conditions that are “reasonably foreseeable” to likely cause harm or injury.
Court Dismisses Injured Restaurant Patron’s Lawsuit
Recently, the Tennessee Court of Appeals rejected a slip-and-fall lawsuit centered on the presence of a utility faucet in the bathroom of a chain restaurant. The plaintiff was a customer at the restaurant. He used the bathroom before his meal without incident. But when he went to use the bathroom a second time–about one hour later–he slipped and fell on a puddle of water on the floor.
Shortly thereafter, the restaurant manager and the plaintiff’s son entered the bathroom, assisted the plaintiff, and located the source of the water–a leaking utility faucet located underneath a vanity.
The plaintiff subsequently sued the restaurant’s owner and other parties for negligence, specifically alleging the utility faucet constituted a “dangerous condition.” In response, the defendants argued the restaurant’s management had no “actual or constructive” notice of the leaking faucet prior to the plaintiff’s accident. Indeed, the defense cited the plaintiff’s own testimony that there was no leak or puddle of water the first time he used the restroom. In addition, the defendants asserted the mere presence of the utility faucet was not a “dangerous condition” under Tennessee law.
The courts agreed with the defense. Affirming a trial court’s earlier ruling on summary judgment, the Court of Appeals noted that “faucets under sinks in commercial restrooms are quite common” and the defense presented unchallenged expert testimony from a plumber who confirmed the faucet at-issue “complied with the International Plumbing Code.” Given this, and given that the restaurant manager testified there were no “previous issues” with the utility faucet, the appeals court held summary judgment was appropriate. Essentially, the Court of Appeals said there was no way that a reasonable jury could find the faucet constituted a dangerous condition.
How Can Our Clinton Slip-and-Fall Accident Lawyers Help You?
Every slip-and-fall accident is unique. What may constitute a dangerous condition in one case may not in another. This is why if you have been injured in an accident, you should speak with an experienced Clinton personal injury attorney who can review your case and help apprise you of your legal options.
No attorney can guarantee you a favorable outcome in litigation. But at Fox, Farley, Willis & Burnette, Attorneys at Law, we promise to provide first-rate legal representation. Call us at 865-457-6440 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our legal team today.