How many times have you heard someone say “accidents happen” as a sort of universal explanation for injuries? In reality, many of the injuries that we attribute to an “accident” are actually the result of someone’s negligence. For example, if you slip on an ice-covered sidewalk outside the local pet store or you become violently ill after eating at the restaurant down the street, your injuries ae likely not the result of an accident but are the result of the business’s negligence. Can you sue a business if you are injured on their property? A Murfreesboro personal injury attorney explains how the concept of premises liability may lead to liability on the part of the business where you were injured.
Tort Law Basics
“Torts” is the area of the law that addresses injuries to your person or your property. Premises liability falls under the larger umbrella of tort law, focusing on injuries to your person that occur while you are on the property of another. Most types of torts, including premises liability, use a negligence standard when determining if the defendant is liable for damages. Negligence is a legal term that is based on the breach of a duty of care the defendant owed the victim. For example, in the case of premises liability, a property owner or occupier has a legal duty to keep the premises free from hazards that are known to the owner/occupier or that could reasonably have been uncovered.
Premises Liability Accident Examples
A visitor on the property of another can be harmed in an infinite number of ways; however, some common examples of accidents that fall under the purview of premises liability include:
- A diner who becomes sick from food poisoning
- A shopper at a grocery store who slips and falls because of liquid spilled in an aisle
- A guest at a hotel who is robbed in the parking garage where there was inadequate security.
- A hotel guest who falls down the stairs because the hotel failed to make necessary repairs to a broken handrail.
- A guest at a party who falls down the steps because of inadequate lighting
The Victim’s Status
The extent of the duty owed to a visitor on the property depends on the visitor’s reason for being on the property in the first place. The law classifies visitors to a property into three categories:
- Invitee – an invitee is someone who is lawfully on the property, by invite of the owner/occupier, and from whom the owner/occupier stands to gain financially. Examples of an invitee include a diner at a restaurant, a guest at a hotel, a shopper at a grocery store, or a client in an office. In all of these examples, the property owner/occupier expects to profit from the visitor’s presence in the property. The law imposes the highest duty of care on the owner/occupier when the visitor is an invitee.
- Licensee – a licensee is also lawfully on the property by invitation of the owner/occupier but without the expectation of financial gain. Examples of a licensee include a plumber who is there to fix the sink, a social guest at a party, or a delivery person dropping off merchandise. The law imposes a similar, but less strict, duty of care when the visitor is a licensee.
- Trespasser – a trespasser is a visitor who is not lawfully on the property. An owner/occupier is only required to refrain from intentionally harming a trespasser.
Am I Entitled to Compensation in a Premises Liability Case?
If you are the victim of a premises liability accident, the owner and/or occupier could be required to compensate you for both your economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are your out of pocket expenses, such as medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages are what most people refer to as “pain and suffering.”
Contact a Murfreesboro Personal Injury Attorney
If you have additional questions or concerns about injuries you sustained as a result of an accident that occurred on the property of a business in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro personal injury attorney immediately. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.