Have you been injured on someone else’s property? If you have, chances are that you may have a premises liability claim. Georgia law requires that property owners, homeowners and commercial entities exercise reasonable care to keep their property safe for visitors to their property. If a property owner does not maintain their property or take proper safety precautions, their negligence could seriously injure you.Examples of Premises Liability Cases
While not every injury sustained on someone else’s property may lead to a premises liability case, here are some common examples of situations that may give rise to a premises liability claim that most people are familiar with:
- A person slips and falls in a supermarket due to water or food substance on the floor that has not been cleaned up
- An object falls from a shelf in a store and lands on a shopper
- Due to a lightbulb that is out at nighttime, a guest on your property trips on uneven pavement and breaks a bone
- A swimmer in your swimming pool drowns due to failure to provide supervision
- A tenant is attacked in a common area of a housing complex due to inadequate security
- An unsecured dog bites and attacks a visitor to your home
This is not a comprehensive list of situations where a premises liability cause may be relevant. However, it should show that there are a variety of situations in which a person injured on another person’s property may be able to recover for the property owner’s negligence in providing reasonable care to protect visitors from injury.Reasonable Steps a Georgia Property Owner must take to avoid a Premises Liability Claim
The type of steps that a property owner must take to keep their property clear of dangerous conditions or hazards is entirely dependent on the circumstances. However, there are many common situations where generally acceptable steps to be taken have been established over time. These steps can include:
- Posting warning signs around and promptly removing foreign substances on the floor in supermarkets
- Defrosting and removing ice on walkways
- Putting up fences and gating a swimming pool
- Making regular maintenance and repairs on the general premises
- Leashing dogs and insuring that they are unable to attack visitors
Georgia courts look at a number of issues when determining liability in a claim under premises liability. These can include:
- What the property was being used for at the time of the injury
- The foreseeability of the accident that occurred
- The circumstances under which the visitor entered the property (what type of visitor were they)
- The reasonableness of the efforts made by the owner to repair a dangerous condition or warn visitors of a dangerous condition
Georgia premises liability law differentiates the types of visitors when it comes to determining the level of care a property owner owes their guests. Businesses like grocery stores, shopping malls and restaurants owe the highest level of care to their customers and others that they want to visit their property. People who are invited onto the premises are called “invitees” and are owed the highest level of care.
Friends, family members and other social guests who come to your home are known as “licensees.” Because these types of people are invited to your property for a non-business purpose, property owners owe a lower level of care to these people.A Note About Trespassers and Attractive Nuisances
Property owners have little to almost no obligation to trespassers on their property. This is due to the fact that property owners do not invite trespassers onto the property and their presence is generally not known or foreseeable. Because of this, property owners have almost no duty of care to a trespasser. This does not mean a property owner may booby trap their property to stop trespassers, and owners may still need to post proper signage to warn everyone of man-made hazards.
There is one large exception about the duty of care owed to trespassers and that is when a property owner has an attractive nuisance on their property. An attractive nuisance is a man-made hazard that is attractive to children to come and play on but is dangerous to the children. The most common attractive nuisance is a pool but can also include railroad tracks, construction sites and machinery.
Every property owner owes a duty of care to trespassing children to protect them from their own curiosity. Therefore, reasonable steps must be taken in securing an attractive nuisance. For example a pool should be surrounded on all sides with fences, locked by a gate and have proper signage to stop children from injuring themselves.Recovery In A Premises Liability Case
Depending on the circumstances and extent of your injuries due to the accident, you may be able to recover the following in a premises liability case:
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Immediate medical expenses to treat your injuries
- Future medical expenses for rehabilitation and continuing care
- Damages for pain and suffering
Punitive damages, those intended to punish the wrongdoer, may be available in cases where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the owner’s actions showed willful misconduct, malice, or fraud in indifferently causing the victim’s injuries.How Can a Georgia Attorney Help Me With My Premises Liability Case?
If you have been injured due to a property owner’s negligence, it is important to contact a premises liability attorney immediately. Chances are that a property owner will offer you a quick settlement in hopes of minimizing their liability. A Georgia premises liability attorney will review the facts of your accident and help guide you through the process of recovering damages for your injuries. They can also collect evidence, interview witnesses to the accident, gather all relevant medical records and proof of your injuries, negotiate settlement offers and if necessary, zealously represent your interests in a court of law.
If you or someone you know has been injured due to the negligence of a Georgia property owner, contact our injury attorneys at the Atlanta based The Angell Law Firm, LLC. The experienced attorneys here will sit down with you for a free confidential consultation to review the facts of your case and advise you on how to best proceed. We also can make house calls and hospital visits anywhere in Georgia or surrounding areas.