Premises liability refers to a type of personal injury claim where the plaintiff suffered an injury on another person’s property because of negligence on the part of the property owner. Property owners in Georgia are required by law to make sure that their premises are safe even if it is private property.
Ensuring the safety of premises includes inspecting for potentially dangerous conditions, warning other people about such conditions, and/or fixing such conditions. If the conditions cause harm to a victim, the owner of the property could be liable even if they didn’t know about the condition.
A premises liability lawsuit, just like other negligence-based cases, is usually complex and involves legal rules and exceptions that can be at times confusing. If you sustained injuries in an accident such as a slip-and-fall, you should make sure that you hire an experienced Atlanta premises liability lawyer that’s knowledgeable of the premises liability law in Georgia.
Our skilled personal injury attorneys in Atlanta at Calvin Smith Law have decades of experience providing tailored representation to our client since each case is unique. We are proud to offer all our clients exceptional service. To get in touch with us to discuss your options, call (404) 383-7552.
What Are Some Examples of Premises Liability Injuries?
Premises can be hazardous in many different ways that may lead to somebody suffering a personal injury or even a fatality. The most common types of premises liability cases include the following:
Slip/Trip and Fall
It involves injuries that occur when a person falls because a stair, ramp, sidewalk, floor, or other surface is slippery, uneven, cracked, or broken; unsafe debris isn’t removed; a leak isn’t repaired; a spill isn’t cleaned in timely fashion; carpeting becomes wrinkled or loose; temporary warning signs aren’t used; and/or steps or curbing aren’t adequately marked.
It involves claims that a person suffered either injuries or a fatality after an elevator stopped suddenly after an abrupt plummet or collapsed, the elevator’s door opened but there wasn’t any elevator, which resulted in a fall down the shaft, an elevator that’s mis-leveled caused a tripping hazard since it failed to stop even with the outside floor, and/or malfunctioning elevator doors entrapped or struck passengers as they tried to exit or enter.
It involves claims that an escalator passenger sustained entrapment or trip and fall-related injuries due to incorrect installation, poor maintenance and/or negligent inspection contributed to instances of excessive speed, defective equipment, unsafe gaps between steps, dangerous protruding metal parts, malfunctioning emergency controls, sudden acceleration or deceleration, shoe entrapment, or other articles of clothing getting caught in between the escalator’s moving parts.
Vicious Dog Bite
It involves injuries that occur when a dog or other animal attacks, chases, mauls, or bites somebody because of the owner negligently failing to control the animal or give warning of its propensity to chase or bite.
Inadequate Fire Safety
It involves claims on behalf of or by fire victims that suffered burn injuries or died because of overcrowding, malfunctioning fire alarms, defective or absent smoke detectors, building code violations, inaccessible fir exits, inadequate fire protection equipment, deficient sprinkler systems, or other fire hazards contributed to the starting or unnecessary spreading of a fire and/or failure to protect the occupants of the building in case of a fire.
Hot Beverage Safety
It involves claims by burn victims that sustained serious scalding injuries after hot team water, coffee, or other hot beverage was spilled due to the negligence of another person or because the hot liquid was not packaged properly.
Negligent Supervision of Children
It involves minors and infants that sustain bodily injuries or are victims of molestation, assault, or abduction because an individual (e.g. coach, minister, teacher, babysitter, chaperone) or business entity (e.g. summer camp, YMCA, dance studio, school, daycare center) negligently failed to adequately protect or supervise a child for whom they have assumed temporary responsibility.
Swimming Pool Accidents
It involves near-drowning, actual drowning, and submersion injuries due to negligent child supervision, inattentive or untrained lifeguards, inadequate barriers or fences to prevent children from accessing the pool, inadequate signage or markings, pool drain entrapment, or the failure to follow or have appropriate protocols for preventing drowning.
Recreational Water Illness
It involves claims by an individual that suffers an infectious waterborne illness after attending or using a commercial or residential hot tub, swimming pool, interactive fountain, water amusement park or other aquatic recreation venue whose pool water was contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites (such as E.coli, Norovirus, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Salmonella, Shigella) due to negligent sanitation practices, inadequate water disinfection, tolerance of unsafe swimmer hygiene
It involves claims of invasion of privacy against companies that operate or own hotels, fitness centers, and retail stores when hidden cameras or peepholes are used for conducting video voyeurism or other surveillance of patrons while they were using a changing area, hotel room, locker facilities, restroom, or other areas where somebody would reasonably expect to have some privacy.
It involves claims of wrongful death, injury, malicious prosecution, or false imprisonment that occur because an untrained or aggressive security guard, bouncer, or loss prevention employee was overzealous or negligent, used unreasonable or excessive force, and/or falsely accused somebody of shoplifting or other crime that they did not commit.
It involves defective construction, poor maintenance, disrepair, negligent overloading or inadequate inspection that leads to the failure of a railing thus allowing somebody to fall from a balcony or deck, or which leads to either the partial or complete collapse of a balcony or deck that’s attached to or inside of an apartment, house, theatre, lodge, convention center, auditorium, or other building.
It usually involves head injuries due to merchandise that falls on a customer while he/she is shopping in retail stores such as Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Costco, or other locations where items are stored or stacked on shelves high above ground level.
It involves claims on behalf of victims of crime that were raped, abducted, assaulted, or killed because the operator or owner of a hotel, apartment, hospital, shopping mall, concert arena, or other similar location negligently failed to offer sufficient security.
What Are Common Injuries in Premises Liability Cases?
If property owners do not keep or make their premises safe from hazards in Atlanta, GA, the consequences can be serious for visitors and guests. Exposed electrical wires, holes in concrete where people walk, broken stairs, unattended swimming pools, or failing structures can all lead to life-altering injuries.
The most common types of injuries in premises liability cases include:
- Foodborne Illnesses
- Animal Wounds or Dog Bites
- Dislocated and Broken Bones
- Muscle Strains and Torn Ligaments
- Neck and Back Injuries
- Brain and Head Injuries
If you sustained an injury on another person’s property, you could have a claim. If you have any questions, it is advisable to consult an experienced premises liability attorney near Atlanta who will help you determine whether or not you have a valid claim as well as how that’s likely to proceed. We offer free legal consultations at Calvin Smith law. You can get in touch with us by calling (404) 383-7552.
How Can an Atlanta Premises Liability Lawyer Help My Claim?
For a lot of civilians, the legal aspect of personal injury claims tends to be challenging to navigate. The challenges become even more pronounced when it comes to premises liability cases. In such cases, you will be required to prove that it is the defendant’s responsibility to uphold the property’s safety. You will also be required to prove negligence on the defendant’s part. Finally, you will be required to show that you have suffered damages due to this negligence.
You should prioritize hiring a premises liability lawyer in Atlanta considering just how complex a premises liability lawsuit/settlement usually is. Below you will find some of the important means through which your attorney can help. A premises liability lawyer in Atlanta will do the following:
Evaluating your case is a critical step in the decision to either go to trial or settle. Not all cases can benefit from one or the other without first considering all the facts carefully. Since an attorney is knowledgeable of the legal process, he/she is best placed to do the evaluation.
Identifying the Liable Parties
In any personal injury or premises liability case, there could be just one or multiple liable parties. The Atlanta premises liability lawyer will check the background of your case to identify potentially liable parties. Is it an Atlanta, GA landowner? Is it the owner or landlord of a recreational facility? Your attorney will also give you an honest assessment of your level of negligence. Participatory negligence may compromise your ability to receive fair compensation, which is why it deserves due attention too.
Witness Identification and Interviewing
Witnesses can help strengthen the claim that the owner of the property hasn’t exercised due care. They can also narrate the events that led up to the attack or injury from a more objective standpoint. While witnesses obviously play a critical role, it can be difficult to reach out to them on your own. A dedicated premises liability attorney, however, can identify which witnesses are relevant. Atlanta premises liability lawyers have the resources at their disposal, which allow them to better reach out to witnesses and invite them to take part.
Computing the Value of Your Claim
It is important to properly value your premises liability claim since your attorney will need to have an estimate for basing the negotiated settlement on. The valuation of the claim must be approximate to your pain and suffering, general damages, and your monetary losses. With the assistance of an Atlanta premises liability lawyer, you can be sure that thee claim won’t be undervalued or overvalued.
Seeking Out the Right Experts
Accident reconstruction may be necessary to illustrate negligence because the accident happened on specific premises. To do that, the Atlanta premises liability attorney will hire accident scene reconstruction experts. Premises liability accidents and injuries occur due to poor facility maintenance. Your lawyer may also need to reach out to engineering professionals to illustrate certain structural issues.
Representing You During Negotiations
Not all cases go to trial. Both parties can agree to negotiate and reach a settlement. A settlement might be time-efficient, but it can still be stressful. The defendant’s insurance provider might try working their way out with a very minimal settlement. If you don’t have an Atlanta premises liability lawyer representing you, it can be very difficult to accurately value your claim yourself. It is why you need your attorney present, even during settlement discussions.
Filing a Lawsuit and Observing Deadlines
A dedicated premises liability lawyer will be a trusted ally when it comes to litigation. The lawyer, will also ensure that you observe filing deadlines to avoid technical lapses. Your lawyer can represent you during court hearings while you recover from the injuries and seek treatment.
Premises Accidents That Involve Children
Georgia law recognizes the fact that children are usually attracted to dangerous conditions, such as unattended trampolines or swimming pools and thus impose a duty on property owners to ensure that their premises are always free from hazards likely to attract and injure any trespassing children.
A property owner can be held liable for injuries suffered by children under the doctrine of an attractive nuisance if the following elements are satisfied:
- The property owner knows or should be reasonably aware that children are likely to trespass on the property
- The property owner knows or should be reasonably aware of the existence of a hazard that’s likely to cause serious injury or even death to trespassing children
- The trespassing children aren’t aware of the dangerous condition or, due to their youth, the children aren’t aware of the danger the hazardous condition presents
- The burden associated with fixing the hazard is minor compared to the risk it presents
- The owner of the property failed to exercise reasonable care in addressing the dangerous condition
The attractive nuisance doctrine doesn’t apply if the child is a guest on the property; it is only applicable to trespassing children. In general, proving liability is much easier if the injured child is an invited guest on the property containing the dangerous condition.
What Types of Damages Are Available to the Injured?
If an injured person is successfully able to demonstrate that someone else was actually responsible for their injuries, the law in Georgia allows for the awarding of different types of damages in premises liability lawsuits. They are:
Special damages refer to those to which a specific dollar amount can be assigned. It usually includes things such as lost wages and current and future medical expenses resulting from the injury. The injured must prove that a certain amount of money was lost for special damages to be awarded. If the injury resulted in permanent or ongoing disability, the injured will have to calculate the future costs of the injury too.
General damages refer to those that can’t be assigned a specific dollar amount. Factors typically considered when general damages are being calculated include:
- Fear or shock associated with the injury
- The pain suffered as a result of the injury
- Impact of the injury on the future employment of the person
- Whether the injury interferes with the enjoyment of life, quality of life, or normal living
- The severity of the injury
It can be difficult to quantify things such as mental anguish, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, anxiety, and grief. That’s why general damages often vary depending on the specific circumstances and experience of the injured person.
Think about the difference between an accident that resulted in a broken limb and one that led to permanent paralysis. Both accidents probably caused pain and suffering, interfered with the victim’s quality of life, and caused shock, fear, and anguish. A court, however, will probably find the long-term consequences and level of anguish that’s associated with paralysis is greater than that associated with a broken limb. General damages are thus likely to be higher in the paralysis case.
It refers to the damages reserved for injuries resulting from the malicious, willful, or wanton misconduct of someone. Punitive damages are aimed at punishing those responsible for the injuries and hopefully ensure that they never do it again.
Punitive damages in Georgia can only be awarded if proven by clear, convincing evidence that the actions of the defendant showed willful misconduct, fraud, oppression, wantonness, malice, or the entire want of care that would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.
Are There Damage Caps for Premises Liability Claims?
In Georgia, there’s usually no limit or cap on the general or special damages that an injured person can be awarded.
One key exception, however, is premises liability lawsuits against the government. Georgia law can limit the number of damages that can be recovered in such cases. For instance, the maximum that any individual may recover for 1 incident when suing the state of Georgia through the Georgia Tort Claims Act is $1 million.
Unlike special and general damages, Georgia law doesn’t have caps on punitive damages in most cases. The cap on punitive damages in $250,000 in many premises liability lawsuits. In the rare event that it is proven that the defendant was either impaired because of drug or alcohol use or the defendant’s “specific intent to cause harm” then there won’t be any cap on punitive damages.
Punitive damages are also generally not awarded in cases against local or state government.
What Are the Time Limits for Filing a Premises Liability Lawsuit in Georgia?
Georgia sets specific time limits regarding when you can file a lawsuit. It is referred to as the statute of limitations. If you file your personal injury claim after the expiry of the statute of limitations, it is almost guaranteed that the case will be dismissed. It is thus important to know about these dates and file your claim in time.
The injured person will in most cases have 2 years after the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia. The statute of limitations, however, can be longer in some instances. For instance, if the injured person is below 18 years, the statute of limitations can be extended until they reach age 18, although the person’s parents will have just 2 years from the date of the injury to pursue a claim for medical expenses. In case the injured individual is legally incompetent because of mental illness or intellectual disability, the statute of limitations can be extended until when the disability is resolved.