In Tennessee and elsewhere, winter weather can pose various threats to personal safety. While most people take care when they walk outside, slip-and-fall accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. Property owners must address all known hazards that can lead to injuries by those who use their walkways and parking lots.
Potholes and damaged surfaces can become hazardous if they fill up with water or melted snow and then freeze over. Stepping into such a trap can cause serious injuries that can have devastating consequences. However, many people may not realize that having such a fall when there is no one about to help them up can be fatal. Hypothermia -- when the body cannot produce heat faster than what it is losing -- can set in within a short period when a person is exposed to extreme cold weather.
Everyone has experienced shivering and losing feeling in their feet and hands, but some may not realize that these are initial hypothermia symptoms. A person who cannot get up after a fall in freezing conditions may experience the slowing of his or her heart rate within minutes. Very soon, confusion sets in, extremities become numb and speech slurs, If help does not arrive quickly, the person's core temperature can drop low enough to cause a fatal heart attack.
Victims who survive slip-and-fall accidents -- or family members who lose loved ones in such tragic circumstances -- may have viable premises liability claims. If a negligently maintained walkway or another part of a property owner's premises was the cause of the fall, that property owner along with other responsible entities could be named as defendants in a civil lawsuit. Proving negligence may be challenging, and the help of an experienced Tennessee premises liability attorney may ease the process and could result in full compensation for monetary and emotional losses.