What is premises liability?
The area of law called premises liability governs situations when a person is injured or killed on or near property owned by another person or business. Under Georgia law, property owners have a duty to keep their property safe for those who enter. This is also known as duty of care. There are many nuances in duty of care law, you can read more about it here.
In the state of Georgia, and many other states, premises liability lawsuits can be brought against a property owner, homeowner, property manager, landlord, government entity, or business that fails to keep their premises reasonably safe for use by a customer, patron, tenant, or guest.
What makes a property unsafe?
Many things can make a premises unsafe for guests, customers, and tenants.
Here are a few examples of conditions that can be potentially dangerous to a person who visits a premises:
- Cracked or uneven sidewalks
- Inadequate security
- Falling merchandise
- Unmarked steps
- Slippery floors due to spills or mopping
- Broken smoke alarms
- Broken glass
- Mold or mildew
- Gas leaks
- Dangerous or aggressive dogs
There are two ways a property owner can be held accountable:
- Demonstrating that the property owner or one of their associates or employees had actual knowledge of the potential hazard and chose to neglect it.
- Demonstrating that the property owner or one of their associates or employees had constructive knowledge of the potential hazard and chose to neglect it.
Georgia Law and the duty of care to keep premises safe
Under Georgia law, property owners and commercial entities must keep their property safe by exercising reasonable care. All guests of a property can expect reasonable safety measures when entering, present on, or exiting a location. This duty of care is stated in Georgia Statute O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1:
“Where an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.”
Only invitees can expect duty of care
Under this statute, only guests who are invited to the premises will be extended this duty of care. If someone enters a property as a trespasser, the same concern for reasonable safety is not owed. An invitee can be understood as anyone who lawfully enters a premise, such as a tenant under contract, a patron of a restaurant, a patient at a hospital, or a ticket holder at a concert or event. All invitees are lawfully entering a location and both parties mutually benefit from the invitee entering a premises.
What cases qualify as Premises Liability cases?
There are many unfortunate outcomes of dangerous premises, some of the most common kinds of premises liability cases include:
Dog Bite cases
Injuries that result from a vicious dog or any other pet can sometimes be a result of negligence on the part of the pet or property owner. If a dog attacks, bites, scratches, or causes injury because of the owner’s negligence, a premises liability claim can be taken against them.
Escalator and Elevator accidents
If an elevator or escalator is not functioning properly and a person is injured, premises liability laws can apply. This does include situations of poor maintenance, malfunctioning emergency controls, protruding parts, and even clothing being caught in between moving parts. However, premises liability laws might not cover a guest who was injured by, for example, climbing on or improperly using an escalator.
Slip and Fall cases
Slip and fall cases occur when the ground or floor of a premises is dangerous for a number of reasons. This can include cracked pavement or concrete, slippery, uncleaned spills, unsafe debris, broken stairs, and uneven ramps. When a property owner does not properly clean or maintain the floor or ground, they can be subject to premises liability laws.
Swimming Pool Accident
These accidents involve drowning or near-drowning because of improper lifeguard supervision, negligent child supervision, inadequate fences, and improper signage.
These kinds of claims usually occur on the behalf of someone who was raped, assaulted, abducted, or killed because the owner of the premises failed to provide adequate security.
If you have been the victim of a premises liability-related injury, call (678) 819-5200 for a free consultation with an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney.