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TN Court of Appeals Dismisses Personal Injury Lawsuit Brought By Self-Represented Plaintiff


If you have been injured in an accident that occurs on someone else’s property, you may naturally assume the owner’s negligence caused what happened. But assumptions do not necessarily mean you have a viable personal injury claim. It is important to thoroughly investigate the circumstances leading up to your accident. An experienced Tennessee personal injury lawyer can prove invaluable in this area, as they have been through this process many times before.

Unfortunately, some victims decide to go it alone and represent themselves in filing a personal injury lawsuit. This is never a good idea. While judges may afford some degree of leeway towards self-represented plaintiffs, they still have a duty to treat both sides fairly. And when the other side is represented by counsel, this commitment to fairness often puts the plaintiff at a significant disadvantage.

Court: No Evidence Store Knew About Potentially Dangerous Magazine Rack

A recent decision from the Tennessee Court of Appeals, Lyon v. Castle Retail Group, LLC, illustrates what we are talking about. This case involves a plaintiff who was injured while shopping at a grocery store in Memphis. She subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the store owner, at all times representing herself without the assistance of a lawyer.

According to the plaintiff, she was waiting in the checkout aisle of the store when she “reached down to retrieve an item and tripped and fell.” The plaintiff said her foot got “caught on a piece of metal which she did not see protruding from the base of a magazine display rack.” As a result of her fall, she sustained serious injuries.

The store–the defendant–maintained it had no prior record of anyone tripping on the magazine rack in question. The defendant produced testimony from its employees, who said they “inspected the magazine rack after Plaintiff’s fall and found no dangerous or defective conditions.” The store manager also conducted an investigation of the scene around the checkout lane and found nothing else that might have caused the plaintiff’s accident.

In response, the plaintiff produced photographs taken after the accident by one of her friends. She said the photos showed “the metal protruding into the aisle as a trip hazard.” Viewed with photographs taken of other magazine racks in the store, the plaintiff alleged this showed the defendant “conducted its business in a manner that was likely to cause injury” to customers.

The trial judge disagreed and granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff, still representing herself, appealed. But the Court of Appeals agreed with the trial judge–the plaintiff’s lawsuit failed because she failed to present any credible allegation that the defendant “had actual knowledge of metal protruding out from the magazine display rack.” Nor could the plaintiff prove the defendant had “constructive notice” of such a problem. There was no evidence of any prior accident involving the magazine racks. The Court said the plaintiff’s accident appeared to be a “random occurrence,” which was not enough to support her lawsuit.

Speak with a Tennessee Personal Injury Attorney Today

While having an attorney is no guarantee of success in a personal injury case, not having one will only make things more difficult for you. Especially in these kinds of premises liability, corporate defendants have the benefit of experienced lawyers on their side who deal with these types of claims every day. This means that your best chance for success as a plaintiff is to work with an equally skilled Nashville personal injury lawyer. Contact the offices of Fox, Farley, Willis & Burnette, today if you have been injured in an accident and would like to schedule a free consultation.




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