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Premises Liability: What Every Victim Should Understand

premises liability

If you are considering filing a premises liability case in Georgia, you have a good chance of success. 39% of premises liability succeed at trial. Compare that to 38% of product liability trials and 19% of medical malpractice trials.

Premises liability law protects you from injuries and illnesses that occur while you are on someone else’s property. Families can also file wrongful death lawsuits based on this law.

Are you wondering if your injury or illness falls under this Georgia law? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading this article to learn about premises liability law and how it may apply to you.

Examples of Premises Liability Law in Action

Premises liability is a type of personal injury claim. It can happen when you get injured on someone else’s public or private property.

The most common type of public premises liability case is a slip-and-fall accident. By public, we mean the accident happened on public property. For example, a retail clothing store is public property.

In this example, say you are shopping for a new suit in a physical retail store. A store employee mopped recently but forgot to put up a wet floor sign. As a result, you slip, fall, and break your leg.

If you were an employee of the store, your injury would fall under worker’s compensation law. But because you are a customer and the store has a duty to keep you safe, your injury falls under premises liability law.

Premises liability cases can also occur on private property. One of the most common types of private premises liability cases is when a property owner’s dog bites you while you are on their property.

To file a lawsuit, you must prove you had the right to be on the owner’s private property. For example, say the owner invited you onto their property. In that case, they had a duty to keep you safe from their pets.

Other Common Types of Premises Liability Cases

Dog bites and slip-and-fall accidents aren’t the only events that lead to a premises liability case. These cases can also come about because of the following:

  • Escalator and elevator accidents
  • Fires
  • Falling merchandise
  • Deck and balcony collapses
  • Inadequate security
  • Aggressive security
  • Recreational water illness
  • Swimming pools
  • Negligent child supervision
  • Hot beverages
  • Peepholes

If you are a victim of one or more of these events, you may have a premises liability case on your hands. However, your attorney must first prove some basic elements required to file your case. We will talk about them next.

Premises Liability Law Basics

In the above cases, we mentioned how the store owner and property owner had a duty to keep you safe. This duty refers to one of the four requirements your lawyer must prove in order for you to have a case.

These requirements include:

  1. A standard of care
  2. A breach of the standard of care
  3. You (the plaintiff) were injured or contracted an illness
  4. Your injury or illness occurred as a direct result of the owner’s breach of care

Now, what do all these phrases mean? The standard of care means that property owners are responsible for keeping others safe while on their property. The level of duty depends on many factors.

The second requirement means that the property owner neglected your safety by creating unsafe conditions. Subsequently, your injury or illness happened as a direct result of that neglect.

It isn’t enough for you to slip and fall or get attacked by a dog. These events must result in an injury. If they don’t, you can’t file a premises liability lawsuit.

Last but most importantly, your lawyer must prove your injury directly resulted from the owner’s breach of care. You can’t file a lawsuit if your injury or illness results from your own carelessness.

For example, say the property owner warned you to stay away from their dog or the clothing store employee did put out a wet floor sign. Here, the owners tried to prevent your accident, meeting the standard of care.

Comparative Negligence

Negligence refers to the property owner’s breach of the standard of care. Breaches can happen intentionally or due to the owner’s failure to practice the standard of care.

In Georgia, negligence is measured on a comparative basis. In other words, a judge would consider your own negligence in addition to the property owner’s negligence in the accident that caused your injury.

Let’s go back to the example we used a moment ago — you ignored the private property owner’s warning to stay away from their dog. Instead, you walked up to the dog and tried to pet it. Then, the dog bit you.

In this case, a judge may find both you and the property owner negligent. You were negligent for approaching the dog despite the owner’s warning. The negligent owner is also responsible for not crating or leashing their dog.

The judge will then assign a percentage of fault to each party. For example, let’s say the judge assigns 75% fault to the owner and 25% fault to you.

You can still get compensation for your injuries. But the award amount will be 25% of what you would have gotten had your share of fault been 0%. So if your award amount is $100,000, you will only bring home $75,000.

Also, Georgia isn’t a pure comparative negligence state. In pure comparative negligence states, you can still file a lawsuit against the property owner even if a judge finds you 75% at fault for the accident.

Georgia is a modified comparative negligence state. That means you can only be 49% responsible for the accident. If your share of the fault exceeds 49%, you can’t file a lawsuit at all.

Need a Premises Liability Lawyer in Athens, GA?

Premises liability laws protect victims of accidents that happen on someone else’s property, whether private or public. You may have grounds for a lawsuit if you were less than 50% responsible for your accident.

Have you determined that you have a premises liability case on your hands? If so, the personal injury lawyers at Cook & Tolley are here to help. Request a consultation with Cook & Tolley today for advice about your case.

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