All property owners in the state of Georgia have a responsibility to maintain a safe, hazard-free environment for any guest that visits their property. If you were injured as a result of a property owner’s failure to exercise that responsibility, you may be able to recover damages by filing a premises liability lawsuit. The personal injury attorneys with the Don Turner Legal Team can handle a variety of premises liability cases, from slip and fall accidents to injuries caused by structural defects.Elements of a Premises Liability Case
You can bring a premises liability claim against the person who owns the property you were injured on or the person or company that controlled said property at the time of your injury. Note that while landlords are responsible for injuries that occur within the common areas of their buildings, they are generally not responsible for injuries to tenants in occupied dwelling units, unless that injury was the result of a hazard that the landlord knew or should have known about and the tenant did not.
A property owner is not automatically liable for any injuries that happen on the property they own or control. In order to establish a premises liability claim, the person who was injured must prove that the property owner was negligent. There are four elements that must be proven in court in order to establish negligence on the part of the property owner:
- The property contained hazardous conditions that could have easily been removed by the owner or adequately warned about, in cases where the hazards cannot be reasonably removed. Examples of hazardous conditions include wet surfaces, overgrown trees and bushes, unfenced swimming pools, concealed sinkholes, broken stairs or railings, unsecured electrical cords, and gas leaks.
- The individual who owned or controlled the property knew or, through the exercise of ordinary care, should have known about the hazardous conditions on their property.
- The property owner failed to exercise their duty of care by removing the hazardous conditions from their property or adequately warning others about the presence of these hazards.
- The property owner's failure to remove or warn about the hazardous conditions on their property caused someone to suffer significant injuries.
Georgia is a comparative negligence state. This means that they will determine how much each party contributed to an accident through their negligence. For example, if the hazardous condition was in plain sight, to the extent that a reasonable person could have avoided it, the injured party could be found negligent as well. If an injured person is found to be more than 50 percent responsible for the injuries they suffered on someone else's property, then they will not be able to recover damages.Duty of Care
Property owners owe a duty of care to individuals on their property. However, the extent of this duty of care varies, depending on whether the injured party was an invitee, licensee, or trespasser:
- Invitees are people who were invited onto the property, either expressly or implicitly, and provide some benefit to the owner of the property or business. This includes customers of various businesses, ticket holders at concerts, and patients at hospitals and medical establishments. Property owners owe invitees the greatest duty of care. This includes inspecting the premises for any hazards, warning invitees of any dangerous conditions, and fixing or warning for any hazards.
- Licensees are people who are on the property lawfully but do not benefit the property owner with their presence. This includes friends and family, neighbors dropping by, religious missionaries, and solicitors. Licensees are owed a lesser duty of care. Property owners have a duty to warn licensees of dangerous conditions but not to inspect the premises or repair hazards.
- Trespassers are people who entered the property without express or implied consent, even if they did not intend any wrongdoing. Property owners owe the least duty of care to trespassers. As a general rule, property owners are not liable if a trespasser is injured on their property. However, they will be held liable if willfully injure any trespassers, unless they have a reason to believe that they are in imminent danger of serious bodily harm.
Georgia's "attractive nuisance" doctrine is meant to protect children who are injured after unlawfully entering someone else's property. Under Georgia law, an attractive nuisance is something inherently dangerous, which children might want to play on. Examples include swimming pools, trampolines, tree houses, wells, and even rooftops, if the roof can easily be climbed on by children.
Young children don't understand the danger presented by certain hazards the same way an adult might. This means that if a property owner knows or should know that children might trespass onto the property, they have a duty to warn children of dangerous conditions and remove hazards when possible. They can be held liable for any injuries to children if they fail to exercise a duty of care.
Note that the attractive nuisance doctrine does not apply to conditions that are dangerous on their surface, such as open pits, poison, sharp objects, or clearly aggressive leashed animals. It also does not apply if the child was an invited guest on the property. The attractive nuisance doctrine is meant solely to protect children who would otherwise be treated as trespassers if they were adults.Our Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
Contact the Don Turner Legal Team today if you or someone you love has been injured as a result of a property owner's negligence. Our personal injury lawyers have years of experience handling premises liability cases and can help you get the compensation you deserve.