Under a section of personal injury law known as premises liability, property owners owe a duty of care to those who visit them. They must keep their buildings, yards, sidewalks, parking lots, and other areas free from preventable hazards and repair any hazards they become aware of as soon as possible.
If someone gets hurt because of a hazard, this makes a property owner responsible for their injuries in many cases. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Georgia’s Premises Liability Law?
According to O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1, property owners or occupiers such as lessees are liable for any injuries that result from a failure to keep a premises safe. This means that those who own the property or oversee its maintenance must keep the buildings, property, walkways, stairs, and other areas safe.
To prove a premises liability case, the injured party will need to show:
- The owner was aware of the hazard.
- The owner should have been aware of the dangerous condition, even if they deny knowing it existed.
- The hazard directly led to the victim’s injuries.
- The victim suffered damages, such as medical bills.
In some cases, the property owner may not be the primary liable party in a premises liability accident. When a property is leased, the owner only remains liable if they are in possession of the property, meaning they continue to manage the upkeep and maintenance. When the owner no longer has any day-to-day control over leased property, the occupier may be the responsible party.
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What Is a Premises Liability Injury?
There are numerous types of premises liability accidents and injuries. These generally can occur in a few common ways:
- Trips, such as over uneven flooring or items in the walkway
- Slips, often on spills, leaks, or improperly cleaned floors
- Falls from a height because of missing or broken railings, uneven stairs, and more
- Drowning accidents
Falls are among the most common premises liability injuries.
These and other types of injuries can occur in several situations on a property. These include:
- Swimming pools
- Poorly-lit environments
- Elevators or escalators
- Animal attacks
Who Is Protected by Georgia Premises Liability Law?
We have established that property owners and occupiers owe a duty of care to those who are legally on their property. But who is that? Generally, there are two categories of individuals that are owed a duty of care:
- Invitees: Someone who is invited onto the property to benefit the owner and/or occupier, such as a customer or a person with an explicit invitation to visit.
- Licensees: Someone who is on the property lawfully for their own benefit, such as a salesman.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, property owners owe trespassers a duty of care under some circumstances, too. This could apply if they do not take proper care to keep children away from an attractive danger, such as a swimming pool, for example.
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Act Quickly to Ensure You Can Hold the Liable Parties Responsible
Georgia limits how long you have to hold a property owner—or another liable party—responsible for the injuries and damages you suffered in a premises liability incident. Under O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33, you may only have up to two years from the date the incident occurred to file a lawsuit. Being even a day late could bar you from a financial recovery.
Taking too long to act could also weaken your case. Some evidence does not last. In fact, a spill that caused your fall might be cleaned up before paramedics arrive. As time passes, witnesses do not remember as clearly, the video gets erased, and other opportunities to fully document what happened disappear.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Hold a Property Owner Legally Responsible?
While there is no rule requiring you to have a lawyer handle your insurance claim after an injury, it could be beneficial. Proving negligence and premises liability based on the facts of your case will often require:
- Specific knowledge of the state’s laws
- Experience knowing how to gather and analyze evidence
- The ability to accurately value your damages
Having a premises liability lawyer on your side will allow you to focus on completing your treatment and healing from your injuries while they navigate the complex process of proving your case and seeking a fair financial recovery. Many personal injury law firms represent clients based on contingency fees, which means your family will not need to pay anything upfront for the support and guidance you need.
Speak With a Team Member from Bader Scott Injury Lawyers for Free
You can discuss your options for taking legal action with Bader Scott Injury Lawyers today for free. We provide complimentary consultations for those hurt in a premises liability accident such as a fall. Our team of Georgia personal injury lawyers may be able to help you pursue and recover money damages to pay for your medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.