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An Experienced Tennessee Premises Liability Lawyer Explains How to Determine Fault in a Premises Liability Case

September 15, 2023 

premises liability lawyer

When you experience a slip and fall, dog bite, drowning, or any other injury on someone’s property in Tennessee, the law recognizes you as a premises visitor, and the property owner owes you a duty of care. However, if the property owner fails to meet this responsibility, resulting in your injury, you may have a premises liability case against them. 

Imagine strolling through a local store, and the next thing you know, you’re on the floor, having slipped on a wet patch. Whose fault is it? In such situations, determining fault and proving it can be challenging. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss how an experienced Tennessee premises liability lawyer approaches fault determination in a premises liability case and what else you need to know about premises liability cases.

Understanding Premises Liability in Tennessee

Property Owners and Their Responsibilities

At the heart of any premises liability claim is the core responsibility of property owners. In Tennessee, like many other places, property owners owe a duty of care to keep their premises safe. 

This includes regular inspections, prompt repair of known hazards, and adequate warnings for potential dangers. 

Whether it’s a slippery supermarket floor, a faulty staircase, or negligent security, owners must be proactive to ensure the safety of both invitees and licensees on their property.

Determining Fault in Premises Liability Cases

Fault isn’t always black and white. The key to determining fault lies in establishing negligence on the property owner’s part. Did they know about the dangerous defect and did nothing? Was there a reasonable expectation for them to be aware of the danger? 

The property owner could be liable if an accident occurred because of such negligence. However, if someone willingly exposes themselves to a known hazard, this can complicate liability claims. Here are some of the factors your attorney will examine to help determine fault:

1. Duty of Care

When it comes to premises liability cases, proving fault primarily hinges on whether the property owner owed you a duty of care and whether they breached this duty. 

To prove that the property owner owes you a duty of care, your lawyer must show that you were either an invitee, licensee, or trespasser on the property. 

The level of care owed to each category of visitors varies, with invitees being owed the highest duty of care because they are on the property for the benefit of the owner.

2. Breach of Duty

Once your lawyer establishes that the property owner owed you a duty of care, the next step is to prove that they breached this duty. 

This can happen in several ways, including failing to warn you of hidden dangers, not repairing known hazards, or not adequately securing potentially dangerous items on their property. 

If the property owner either created the danger or knew of it and did not fix it in a timely manner, the breach of duty is straightforward.

3. Causation

So the property owner was careless – what next? It’s not just about their negligence. We also need to link that negligence directly to your injury. Think of it as connecting the dots, and that’s where we come in. Your Tennessee premises liability lawyer must also show that the breach caused your injuries. 

In premises liability cases, causation can be tricky to prove because premises accidents often have several contributing factors, some of which may not involve negligence at all. 

Proving causation requires detailed investigation and analysis of the evidence and working with experts to reconstruct the accident scene.

4. Comparative Negligence

In Tennessee, we work with what’s called a modified comparative fault system. Think of it like a pie chart, where responsibility can be divided between parties. It determines how much compensation you might receive based on your share of the blame.  

Simply put, if you’re found to be partially at fault for your injuries, it can influence the compensation you receive. Let’s say you’re at a cafe and ignore clear warning signs before tripping on a power cord. If you’re found to be 20% at fault, your compensation might be reduced by that percentage. 

Engaging a skilled premises liability lawyer ensures you’re positioned favorably in such scenarios and that any shared fault doesn’t unduly impact your compensation.

5. Evidence

Your Tennessee premises liability lawyer isn’t just waiting for evidence to appear. They actively seek it out, ensuring every stone is turned to build a strong case for you. The evidence may include photographs of the accident scene, witness statements, security footage, and accident reports. 

Your lawyer may also work with expert witnesses like engineers and medical professionals to testify to the cause of the accident and the extent of your injuries.

Types of Premises Liability Accidents

Accidents happen, but they’re not all created equal. In Tennessee, there are various types of premises liability accidents that you should be familiar with:

Slip and Fall

Without a doubt, slip and fall incidents top the list of premises liability accidents. For example, you’ve just wrapped up a delightful dinner with a friend, and as you’re making your way to your car, an unexpected slick spot on the restaurant’s sidewalk takes you by surprise. 

In an instant, you’re on the ground, having hit your head and sustained other injuries. Now, if there’s no warning sign in sight, that oversight might very well point to negligence on the part of the property owner.

Swimming Pool Accidents

When it comes to private properties with swimming pools, safety should never be a compromise. In these scenarios, far too often an unlocked gate inadvertently becomes an open invitation for a curious child. 

Tragically, this oversight could lead to a life-altering incident like drowning. Such lapses in safety precautions not only shatter lives but also solidly ground a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner.

Negligent Security

When we talk about premises liability, we’re not just referring to the physical state of a property. It goes deeper than that. Property owners also have a legal duty to consider the safety and security of their visitors, especially in areas where there’s a potential risk from human actions. 

Imagine visiting a shopping center where the parking area is known for incidents, but the owners haven’t installed proper lighting or security measures. In a situation where someone faces harm due to such oversight, the property owner could be held responsible.

The Importance of Timely Medical Attention

After an accident on someone’s property, seeking medical attention is paramount. Not only is this crucial for your well-being, but it’s also pivotal for your liability claim. Here’s why:


Medical records serve as objective evidence of your injuries, showcasing their severity and the necessary treatments.


Delaying medical care might give the insurance adjuster or the defense team a reason to argue that your injuries aren’t as serious as claimed or even unrelated to the accident.

So, even if you feel your injuries are minor, always get checked. It’s better to be safe and have evidence on your side.

Navigating Settlement Negotiations

The vast majority of premises liability cases don’t go to trial. They’re resolved via settlement negotiations. Here’s what you can expect:

Initial Offer

After assessing your claim, the insurance company might present an initial settlement offer. Often, this is lower than what you may be entitled to.


With the help of your premises liability attorney, you can counter their offer backed by evidence, like medical records and expert witnesses.

Reaching an Agreement

It’s a back-and-forth dance, but with skilled negotiation from your legal team, most parties find a middle ground – a fair compensation that covers your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.

Every step taken is crucial for your claim’s success, from collecting evidence and understanding laws to skilled negotiation. Your choice of a premise liability attorney can make all the difference.

The Clock is Ticking: The Statute of Limitations

A critical point to remember when considering a premises liability case in Tennessee is the statute of limitations. You have just one year from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in the state’s civil court system. 

Time can fly, especially when dealing with injuries, medical appointments, and recovery. So it’s essential to act promptly. Delaying could mean missing the window to seek justice and compensation.

Your Fight is Our Fight: Standing Strong in Tennessee Premises Liability Cases

Have you been in a premises-related accident and don’t know what to do next? Are you searching online for an experienced “personal injury attorney near me“? Look no further. Tennessee Injury Attorneys has got your back.

Facing the aftermath of an accident is challenging. Between medical bills, recovery, and the unknowns of a liability case, it can be a lot to handle. That’s where we come in. Our team is experienced in premises liability cases, ensuring you get both the legal support and the compensation you are entitled to.

At Tennessee Injury Attorneys, we’re not just looking at files and papers. We see the people, the stories, and the families behind each case. And that’s what drives us. You become family to us.

Ready to take the next step? Call us at (901) 902-7926 or complete our online form to schedule your FREE consultation. When you need a dedicated advocate in your corner, Tennessee Injury Attorneys is just a phone call away. Let us fight for you!

Copyright © 2023. Tennessee Injury Attorneys. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

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(901) 902-7926

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