When most people think of a “personal injury accident” they envision a motor vehicle accident; however, there are actually a number of different types of injury scenarios that fall within the definition of a “personal injury accident.” If you were injured while on the property of another party, for example, the property owner (or occupier) might be liable for your injuries based on something known in the law as “premises liability.” The. only way to know with certainty that you are entitled to compensation for injuries through a premises liability lawsuit is to consult with an experience person injury attorney. In the meantime, however, a Smyrna personal injury attorney explains the basics of premises law in the State of Tennessee.
Were You Injured While on Someone Else’s Property?
Premises liability law begins by asking a simple question – “Were you injured while you were on someone else’s property?” If so, the owner, or in some cases occupier (such as a renter), of the property may be legally liable to you for damages. The law requires the individual or entity who is responsible for the maintenance of a property to keep the property safe. The extent of the duty owed to you by the owner/occupier depends on your classification as an invitee, licensee, or trespasser.
Why Were You on the Property in the First Place?
The second important question in a premises liability lawsuit is “Why were you on the property in the first place?” This matters because the law imposes different standards of care on the owner/occupier based on the classification of the victim. There are three classifications, including:
- Business invitee – an owner/occupier owes the highest duty of care to a business invitee. A business invitee is someone who is on the property, at the request of the owner/occupier, with the expectation of financial gain. For example, if you are the guest at a hotel, a diner at a restaurant, shopper at a grocery store, or client at bank, you are a business invitee. In each case, the business has invited you on to the property and the business hopes to gain something by your presence on the property. As such, the law requires the owner/occupier to fix known hazards on the property, do everything reasonably possible to identify hazards, and/or to warn invitees if a hazard cannot be fixed immediately.
- Licensee or social visitor – the duty of care owed to a licensee or social visitor is more than that owed to a trespasser but less than that owed to a business invitee. A licensee is someone who is on the property at the request of the owner/occupier but not with the expectation of financial gain on the part of the owner/occupier. The plumber who is called out to fix a leaky faucet, for example, is a licensee. A social visitor, as the term implies, is someone who is on the property with the permission of the owner/occupier for social reasons. A neighbor who came by to swim in your pool or guests at a birthday party are social visitors. An owner/occupier has a duty to repair known hazards and to warn licensees and social visitors about hazards that cannot be repaired immediately. The primary difference between a business invitee and a licensee/social visitor is that there is more of a duty to prevent, or to check for potential problems, where a business license is involved.
- Illegal trespasser – although most people are unaware of this, a property owner/occupier does owe a small duty of care to even an illegal trespasser. A trespasser is someone who is on the property without the permission of the owner/occupier, such as a burglar, someone using your land as a shortcut, or a hunter who wandered onto your land. The duty of care owed to an adult trespasser is simply to not intentionally harm him/her. In other words, a property owner/occupier cannot set traps to harm someone who wanders on the property; however, if that wanderer tripped over a log and hit his head, the property owner would not be responsible.
How Can a Smyrna Personal Injury Attorney Help?
If you believe that you are the victim of a premises liability accident it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Smyrna personal injury attorney right away to discuss your legal options.
If you have been injured in a personal injury accident State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Smyrna personal injury accident attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.