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Does a person's intent matter in a Tennessee negligence case?


When Tennessee residents suffer injury at the hands of another person, the injured individual deserves justice. This is easy to understand when the other person intentionally caused the injury, but injured persons may not realize they may have an equal right to justice in some cases, even if the injury was unintentional.

For instance, last week, this blog discussed the myths surrounding premises liability cases. Individuals can suffer serious injuries when they slip and fall or otherwise hurt themselves on someone else's property, even if the property owner did not intend for those injuries to occur.

Negligence law is based upon injuries that occur without intent. While intent, if present, may allow a separate claim to be asserted, intent is not part of a negligence claim. Rather, the law of negligence presumes that individuals hold a duty of care to others, and that duty can be violated in certain circumstances, even where the violation was not intentional.

For example, when an individual suffers an injury on a property owner's sidewalk that had a dangerous property condition, the injured person can in some situations hold the negligent property owner accountable for that condition. This is because the property owner in general has a duty of care that he or she owes to other individuals, which requires the property owner to maintain the sidewalk in a safe manner.

Accordingly, by showing the property owner owed this duty of care, and breached the duty by not keeping his or her property in a safe condition, the injured person may be able to make out a successful case for negligence. The injured person can then present evidence of the damages that have been suffered because of the injury, such as medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Source: Findlaw, "Tennessee Negligence Laws," Accessed July 3, 2015

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