Georgia Premises Liability Law
In Georgia, the law requires property owners and operators to keep their property in a safe condition and to be responsible for the safety of invited guests and visitors who are injured due to dangerous conditions on their property. The most popular terminology for a premises liability claim is “slip and fall,” but a premises liability claim can arise from any dangerous condition that causes an injury to a guest or visitor. Dangerous conditions that could cause injuries to visitors and raise a claim for premises liability include:
- Lack of security at a place of business;
- Negligence in an apartment complex or hotel security resulting in assault, rape, or even death;
- Injuries to children due to dangerous conditions on any property.
- Dog bites by dogs known to be dangerous or have a propensity towards biting;
- Dangerous conditions, such as unstable decks.
Just because you were injured on someone’s property in Georgia does not mean you automatically have a claim for your injury. In Georgia, you have to prove that the owner of the property knew or should have known about the dangerous condition that caused your injury AND that there is no way you would have known about the danger by exercising reasonable care. That means you have the duty to be careful and watch where you’re going. Examples of the responsibilities of the property owner are outlined below.
What does the owner of a property need to do to protect its guests?
1. Regular inspections and maintenance. Let’s take a grocery store for example. If a patron slips and falls on some clear liquid and is injured in a Kroger, can s/he recover damages for injuries? That depends on whether Kroger knew or should have known about the liquid spill and cleaned it up before the customer fell. If Kroger implemented policies and procedures to inspect and monitor the floors and aisles to make sure there were no spills, then, in theory, an employee would have discovered the spill. However, Kroger’s responsibilities are not so intense that it needs to have someone hovering over each aisle at every second of the day. It is likely that if Kroger could prove that its employees walked and inspected the aisles every 15 minutes, then it would not be liable for the patron’s fall. On the other hand, if an employee saw the spill and just left it there, then Kroger knew about the spill and would be liable for the customer’s fall. Now, the customer would have to prove that Kroger knew about the spill in order to actually recover in Georgia court.
2. Remove known dangers. When a property owner in Georgia knows about danger and does not remove it, then the property owner can be held liable for injuries that occur on the premises (unless the person who is injured should not be there. For example, s/he was trespassing). Let’s use the owner of a dog who bites and injures a visitor. Let’s assume that the owner of the dog knew that the dog was dangerous because it had bitten others in the past. The owner had the obligation to keep the dog away from the visitor in order to avoid the bite and would be on the hook for the visitor’s injuries.
The rules of liability in Georgia seem fairly simple. However, proving that a property owner or a business owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition is fairly complex. Investigating the events surrounding the injury is imperative and can be costly. Eyewitnesses, camera footage, property/business records, and employee testimony are just a few of the ways to discover whether a Georgia property owner is liable for a slip & fall on its premises. Filing a lawsuit is required to force property owners to provide video footage or for employees to testify.
Since proving premises liability in Georgia is fairly difficult and expensive, someone looking to make a claim must have a fairly bad injury, such as a broken bone or fracture in order to make it worth his/her time and money to bring and investigate a claim.
If you have been injured due to a dangerous condition and would like to determine whether you have a premises liability case in Georgia, please contact The Davis Injury Firm LLC for a consultation with a slip & fall attorney.