When a Georgia property owner doesn’t take reasonable care with regard to the risk of injury to people he’s invited onto the property, he can be held accountable. However, he can’t be held accountable for injuries caused by dangerous conditions that are open and obvious to visitors. In a recent Georgia appellate decision, a university appealed the denial of summary judgment in a premises liability lawsuit.
The case arose when the plaintiff, a young woman, moved into her dorm room to start her freshman year. Her room included two lofted beds. One of the beds was higher than the other bed. By the time the woman got to her room, her roommate had already chosen the lower bed. The plaintiff wanted to lower her bed to be the same height as her roommate’s and submitted an online request to the university housing department. The request wasn’t answered.
Instead, because there was no ladder, the plaintiff had to step on her desk to climb onto the bed. She and her roommate rearranged the room so that they were both satisfied with it. After that, the plaintiff didn’t follow up on lowering the bed because she liked the new arrangement. After coming home from a Halloween party where she’d been drinking, she felt tipsy and went to bed, where she fell asleep. Her next memory was of falling out of her lofted bed. She blacked out and woke up on her back on the floor. Her roommate was standing over her asking if she was okay. As a result of the fall, she suffered serious injuries that required her to stay in the ICU and undergo surgery.