What Is the Statute of Limitations for Premises Liability in Tennessee
Injuries can happen at any time. Many times, it is not the victim's fault. Car accidents, slip and fall incidents, animal bites, and trips are some of the common causes of Americans checking in with bodily harm.
If that injury occurred on someone else's property, the victim may be able to take legal action against the owner- but they have to do it within a certain amount of time. This is due to the premises liability statute of limitations.
What is the statute of limitations for premises liability in Tennessee law, and what does it mean for those who intend to claim compensation? Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also answer What is the cause of action for premises liability?
The Short Answer: What Is the Tennessee Statute of Limitations for Premises Liability Claims?
Tennessee law set a one-year statute of limitations on premises liability claims. This means that an injured person has 365 days from the date of the accident to submit a claim against the property owner.
What Is Premises Liability?
In short, premises liability is an arm of personal injury law that applies to bodily harm sustained on someone's property due to a dangerous condition or negligent action that led to the incident.
Under Tennessee law, everyone who owns property (private, residential, commercial, or industrial) has a duty of care to anyone who visits the premises. That duty includes providing safe conditions and removing any dangers that could potentially cause harm.
If a property owner is found to have been negligent in their execution of that duty of care and someone is injured because of it, they could be liable for the damages awarded to the victim.
A a property owner is not automatically liable for every injury- this law only applies if something they did or failed to do was the primary cause of the accident.
Sometimes, the property owner is partially responsible, but the victim's actions also lead to their injuries. In these circumstances, it becomes more complicated, and if the victim is more than 49% to blame, they cannot regain compensation.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is the maximum time limit for a person to submit a claim following an incident or accident. It means people cannot wait many years to bring forward a case and seek compensation.
Why Does a Statute of Limitations Apply to Premises Liability Claims and Personal Injuries?
The purpose of the statute of limitations on premises liability and personal injury is the limit the time that can pass between an injury occurring and the responsible party people held liable. It is important for several reasons. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can help with questions such as What is the premises liability law in Tennessee?
If claims are not brought about promptly, crucial evidence is more likely to be lost, and it can be harder to prove what happened.
People move, and properties change hands. If someone waits too long to make a premises liability claim, the property may no longer be owned by the same person.
It is important that the right person is held accountable. Five years after an accident, the responsible person may have moved, changed occupation, no longer be associated with the premises, or have passed away.
There is usually a pressing need to recover compensation in personal injury claims and wrongful death cases, whether or not premises liability is relevant. Putting a time limit on proceeding helps speed things up and emphasize urgency.
What Happens If a Person Does Not File a Premises Liability Claim On Time?
If premises liability cases are not submitted within the one-year statute of limitations, the victim is unlikely to be able to claim compensation or seek justice for their injury.
Usually, a claim made after the one-year deadline will be automatically dismissed.
Are There Any Exceptions?
There are some cases where exceptions may apply, but it is not the norm. Most people who miss the deadline cannot make a claim, but some may be able to find a way.
If the victim dies of their injury, the case becomes a premises liability wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations is still one year, but it is from the date of the death, not the injury.
Somebody who is incapacitated and unable to pursue legal action because of their injury until after the statute of limitations has expired may be able to apply for an extension beyond the one-year limit.
Injury victims who are legally minors can also apply for an extended statute of limitations until they come of age.
When Is a Property Owner Liable in a Personal Injury Claim?
A property owner can only be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit if their actions or lack thereof contributed in some way to the accident. Somebody who slips on an unmarked wet floor in a retail space could sue the owner. However, someone pursuing damages for medical malpractice caused by a doctor would sue the person or practice, not the owner of the hospital building.
Examples of Personal Injury Claims where Property Owners are Liable Under Premises Liability Law
Here are some possible circumstances where premises liability would apply.
A car accident that is caused by poor road conditions or hazards that should have been removed by the owners of the property
Dog bites and other animal attacks in private residences
Slips, trips, or falls that happen due to wet floors, uneven surfaces, or dangerous fixtures
Injuries sustained at amusement parks or other public attractions
Crimes committed against guests on any property
Accidents in hotels, restaurants, or other hospitality establishments
Drowning incidents in unfenced pools
Essentially, any injury cases that happen on someone's property when a dangerous condition exists, or a negligent action occurs could come under premises liability law- and the property owner could be at fault and liable to pay damages.
The Tennessee Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Premises liability and personal injury usually go hand-in-hand, since it is often a personal injury claim that is made against the property owner.
The statute of limitations for a personal injury case in Tennessee is also one year, so the same rules apply whether or not a premises liability case is present.
How Is Premises Liability Proven in Tennessee?
As previously mentioned, premises liability laws only apply if the injuries sustained were a result of the owner's negligence, more so than the guest's negligence. The victim must be able to prove that the owner is more to blame than they are.
There are three stages to proving fault in a premises liability claim.
Prove that the person who owns the property showed negligence in their care or use of the property.
Show that the injury that occurred happened as a direct result of that negligence.
If the victim's actions contributed in any way to the injury, they must prove that the owner is more to blame than they are.
Proving Negligence in Duty of Care
The level of care owed depends on the nature of the guest's presence.
Invitees (people invited onto the property by the owner in a business setting, including patrons in a retail space, office, or hospitality establishment) are owed the greatest duty of care.
Licensees (people with consent- express or implied- to be on the property, such as friends and family) are still owed a duty of care, but at a lesser level.
Trespassers (those who do not have permission to be there) are usually owed no duty of care- except for children who are harmed and some dog attacks on adults.
Depending on the level of care owed, the extent of the owner's negligence may vary. Leaving swimming pools unprotected, dangerous dogs off of leashes, and hazardous structures unprotected are generally considered negligence across the board.
However, messy conditions inside a property may only be considered negligence for invitees.
Actual Knowledge VS Constructive Knowledge
Actual knowledge is when the property owner has clear knowledge of the dangerous condition. Constructive knowledge means they should know about it. The owner can be held liable either way as long as there is clear proof.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help?
An experienced personal injury lawyer can ensure the legal process gets underway in a timely manner so as not to miss the statute of limitations deadline. They can take the lead on putting together a case and handling settlement negotiations while the victim focuses on physical and emotional recovery.
It is also a good idea to have an expert Nashville premises liability attorney who can prove the fault and maximize the chances of securing the maximum possible compensation for out-of-pocket expenses, medical bills, lost wages, and the pain and suffering tied to emotional distress caused by the accident.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Go to War for Nash Victims Quickly and Relentlessly
The legal services of Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys in Nashville, Tennessee, are beyond reproach. As leading experts in premises liability law and personal injury, they go to war for clients to hold responsible parties accountable and recover damages on their behalf.
Arrange a free consultation today and beat the clock on the one-year Tennessee statute of limitations for premises liability claims.