The term premises liability refers generally to the legal responsibility of the owner and/or occupant of real property for injuries that someone may sustain while on the property due to a dangerous or defective condition that exists there. Responsibility in such cases is not automatically imposed, but depends on whether the owner is perceived as having created, or allowed, a dangerous or defective condition to exist on the property. Contact our team of Savannah, GA premises liability lawyers if you or a loved one have suffered an injury as a result of being on someone else’s property.
Property owners have a duty to properly manage, supervise and operate their property to minimize unnecessary risk of harm to others. When you enter another’s property, you are considered either an invitee or a licensee. Depending on which, the owner of the premises has a duty to take varying levels of precautions to preserve your safety and keep you from harm.
If you have been injured as a result of unsafe conditions on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation. This includes money that you may need to replace any lost wages, to repay costly medical bills, or to pay for ongoing medical treatment. However, your rights when injured on someone else’s property depend upon your legal status while on the property. An experienced injury lawyer in Savannah, GA with extensive successful experience handling premises liability cases can help you determine if your case is valid or not.
When bringing a premises liability claim, it is important to first identify who owns or possesses the property. The law states that a person is considered to possess the property when that person:
- Occupies the land with the intent to control it
- Previously occupied the property with the intent to control it and no other person has subsequently occupied that property with the intent to control it
- Is entitled to immediate occupation of the property, if no other person is in possession of the property
Under Georgia law, whether or not you can recover for injuries sustained on someone else’s property depends on what your legal status was when you received the injuries. The property owner’s duty is higher for some people, such as business invitees. You will fall into one of three categories:
- Invitee – an invitee was expressly or impliedly invited onto the property for business purposes. In Georgia, guests of an apartment tenant are business invitees on the apartment premises.
- Licensee – a licensee has the owner’s permission to be on the property, but was not specifically invited, such as a social guest
- Trespasser – a trespasser is on the owner’s property without permission
A landowner owes the highest duty of care to an invitee. For an invitee, a landowner must actively look for and correct problems with the premises. If an issue cannot be fixed, the landowner must warn invitees of the problem. When these duties were not fulfilled, you may have a case against the property owner.
The most common instance of premises liability arises when an invitee enters upon the property of another. An invitee is an individual who is publicly invited onto the land, such as a customer who enters another’s store. A landowner still owes the same duty of care for activities conducted on the premises: that of an ordinarily prudent person. However, the landowner has a greater duty of care regarding any dangerous conditions on the property. The landowner has a duty to warn the invitee of all concealed dangerous conditions on the land that the land occupier either knew about or could have discovered through reasonable inspection. This imposes a duty on the landowner to inspect the premises for any dangerous conditions and protect all invitees from such conditions.
There are many types of premises liability claims. Common premises liability claims include:
- Elevator or escalator accidents
- Negligent security
- Construction accidents
- Toxic chemical exposure
- Slip and fall accidents
- Unsafe stairs
- Dog bite injuries
- Swimming pool and/or drowning accidents
Slip and Falls
The most common premises liability claim is a slip and fall claim. Slip and fall cases occur when you or someone you love slips, falls and gets hurt due to the fault of another property owner.
Almost anything can cause someone to fall. Some common reasons include:
- Improper concrete maintenance
- Holes in the ground
- Sloping of the ground
- Snow or ice
- Bumps in carpet
Many factors are taken into consideration when determining liability for a slip and fall claim. The courts will look at how long the unsafe condition has existed, if any efforts have been made to fix or improve the dangerous condition and whether or not the carelessness of the claimant played a role in sustaining their injury. It is important for the state, city, business owner or landowner to maintain and upkeep the property making sure the premises do not pose any threat of harm to people who pass through. If the property owner fails to repair any defects, remove foreign objects, warn people of hidden dangers or design the grounds in a safe and appropriate way then they are considered to be negligent in the eyes of the law. Any imminent threat of harm or danger should be announced up front so if someone slips and falls they can say that they have been properly warned.
It can be a challenge to find both the physical proof and the witnesses necessary to prove your slip and fall claim. At Roden + Love, our attorneys understand the most important questions to ask and where to look for the answers. Not only can our Savannah premises liability attorneys take the legal burden off your shoulders, but we can also provide much needed support and advice during your difficult times.
Static Condition Claims
A static condition or defect can be defined as something which is not inherently dangerous in and of itself. Static conditions or defects are typically found in places where such conditions or defects are expected. For example: cracks in sidewalks, depressed areas in pavement, manholes, curbs, and drainage culverts. Static condition cases quite often also involve the “plain view” doctrine. With the plain view doctrine, the alleged effective condition is in “plain view” so that it can be avoided where a plaintiff exercises ordinary care for his own safety, or is looking where he is walking. Jeter v. Edwards, 180 Ga. App. 283, 349 S.E.2d 28 (1986). Where a static defect is in plain view, or open and obvious, there is no duty to warn.
When evaluating static condition cases it must be understood that a person is not required to look constantly at the area in which he is walking. To say that a plaintiff could have seen a static defect had he been looking may not always be enough.
Most often a static condition is present for weeks, months or even years on the premises without any change. Unless someone complains of the condition or is injured during this extended time period, the business owner has no reason to believe that the condition presents a hazard. The business owner is required to inspect the premises for dangerous static conditions and should have knowledge of anything on the premises which does not comply with building codes or standards.
There must be evidence showing that the business owner or occupier had superior knowledge of the existence of the static condition that caused the injury and the danger presented by that condition for the business owner to be liable for an injury caused by a static condition. If the owner has superior knowledge of a hazard on the premises he or she has a duty to warn about it.
Static condition claims are highly complex. An assessment of a static condition claim should reviewed by an experienced premises liability attorney at Roden + Love. Our Savannah, GA premises liability attorneys will review all of the circumstances and facts of your case and help you determine the best course of action to pursue. Victims injured while on another’s property may be eligible to collect premises liability damages, including medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages. Contact our office today at 844-RESULTS for a free consultation.