Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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Rainy season can result in hazardous accumulations of water on property. In order to recover damages for injuries sustained as a result of slippery conditions on someone else’s property, you’ll need to bring an Atlanta premises liability lawsuit. In a recent Georgia appellate decision, a student slipped on a wet step and broke her ankle while getting off a county school district bus.

There had been rain that day. The bus driver testified there were checklists he had to follow to make sure the bus was working properly, but there weren’t mandatory procedures he was required to follow in case rain entered the bus. The bus driver didn’t see the student fall, but did remember it was wet that day. No other students fell or complained of slippery steps.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs sued the Board of Education alleging it had negligently failed to inspect or discover there was a dangerous condition and negligently failed to remedy the situation or give proper warnings. They also claimed the Board had hired a dangerous driver. They claimed the Board was both directly liable and vicariously liable.

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Georgia landowners may be held accountable for dangerous property conditions that injure a third party, even if the property is being rented to someone else. In a recent Georgia premises liability lawsuit, a plaintiff sued the defendant for damages after she stepped into a concealed hole while visiting a rental home owned by the defendant.

The defendant had leased the rental home to the plaintiff’s friend. The friend held a party at the house, which the plaintiff attended. During the party, the plaintiff went into the backyard and approached a chair circle. She stepped into a concealed hole that was hidden by overgrown grass. She felt a pain and heard a loud noise as her ankle broke. She also suffered a torn ligament.

The plaintiff sued the owner of the rental home. The complaint alleged the defendant hadn’t used ordinary care to keep the rental home premises safe. The defendant made a motion for summary judgment, claiming she didn’t know about any dangerous condition on the property, since it was in her tenant’s possession. The lower court granted the summary judgment motion. The plaintiff appealed. The trial court agreed with the defendant and granted the motion.

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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.

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Generally, government entities have sovereign immunity against an Atlanta car accident lawsuit, unless they’ve specifically waived that immunity. In a recent Georgia appellate decision, a couple sued the Georgia Department of Transportation for negligence stemming from a crash in which the wife and kids suffered serious injuries. In a motion to dismiss, the Department argued it had sovereign immunity. The lower court denied the motion and the Department appealed.

The case arose when the wife and two kids were driving down State Route 11. As the wife came to the intersection, a vehicle driving north was waiting in a passing lane to turn left onto a road that ran perpendicular. A third vehicle driving north swerved to avoid striking the left-turning vehicle and instead hit the wife’s car causing the three occupants to suffer serious injuries.

The wife and her husband sued the Department under the Georgia Tort Claims Act, claiming that it was negligent in the maintenance, building, and design of State Route 11 at its intersection with the other road. They claimed the Department had failed to give the minimum mandated sight distance for drivers coming to the intersection, failed to post enough proper speed warnings, and failed to slope the shoulder of Route 11 properly. They attached an engineer’s affidavit to their complaint. Among other things, the affidavit claimed the Department knew of the history of accidents, but hadn’t fixed the issue.

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Property owners should take steps to make their property reasonably safe for those they’ve invited onto the property. However, sometimes property owners ask visitors to sign waivers regarding accidents they may have on the property in order to avoid liability. In a recent Georgia appellate decision, the court considered a case in which the plaintiff sustained injuries during an event in which her daughter participated at the defendant’s facility. The defendant provided tumbling instruction, along with cheerleading team programs. It was hosting an exhibition of routines for parents on the day of the accident. The gym floor was covered with purple practice mats. There were two vendors there to promote services and goods.

The plaintiff’s daughter was part of a special needs team, which wasn’t a part of the defendant’s facility or teams, but rather a separate nonprofit that was allowed to practice in the facility. The special needs team was charged nothing for its use of the facility, but it was invited to be a part of the exhibition of routines. On the day of the accident, the special needs team performed later than was scheduled. Spectators whose children had yet to perform had to wait outside. Once they were let in, they were crammed together.

The plaintiff and her daughter couldn’t stay for the whole program after the special needs team performed. The mother went in search of her daughter. While walking towards her daughter’s team through the crowd, she fell from the mats about two feet to the concrete floor. Where she’d fallen hadn’t been demarcated with rope. After she fell, a facility employee called an ambulance. The hospital diagnosed her with four breaks that necessitated surgery and months of recovery.

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It can be challenging for a plaintiff to pursue damages in an Atlanta premises liability lawsuit because the property owner or manager has more information about dangerous property conditions than does the plaintiff. However, the situation is analyzed differently if a plaintiff has previously encountered a potentially dangerous condition on the property. In a recent premises liability lawsuit, the plaintiffs appealed from a summary judgment order in a premises liability case. The case arose when the plaintiff and her daughter were shopping at the mall. The plaintiff went into the mall through an automatic revolving glass door. She left the mall through the same door to ask her husband a question. When she tried to come back through the same glass door, the door started to revolve before she could exit into the mall. Her head was slammed back into the portion of the glass door that stayed still. As a result of the collision, she suffered injuries to her neck, teeth, upper back and mouth.

Later, the mall’s long-term maintenance employee said that the door was inspected every morning and the inspection reports didn’t indicate defects or malfunctions. The mall’s surveillance footage showed the plaintiff running into the glass pane. Moreover, the mall’s incident report showed she’d walked into the side section of the door and not the actual door. The revolving door also had a testing system that was automated. It, too, did not detect a defect or malfunction in the door at the time of the accident. The mall’s operations director testified at deposition he couldn’t remember any prior accident involving that door.

The plaintiff and her husband sued the mall’s owner claiming premises liability, vicarious liability and negligence, among other causes of action. They found an expert to testify that the door was defective because no sign had been placed on the door to let visitors know there were moving glass parts. The manufacturer had recommended a warning to this effect be placed there. The expert’s opinion was that the failure to put up a warning sign led to the plaintiff’s distraction and rendered the door hazardous.

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Special issues may arise if you try to recover damages in an Atlanta premises liability lawsuit after being injured on government property because the government is ordinarily shielded from liability under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. This holds true unless the government has specifically waived its immunity for certain circumstances. In a recent case, a Georgia appellate court considered whether sovereign immunity barred the plaintiff’s premises liability suit against the county.

The case arose when the plaintiff was fishing in a county park. When he stepped backwards, he fell through the dock. He was hurt. The parties disagreed about whether the plaintiff had paid to go into the park and fish. He claimed he did, and the County claimed he didn’t. He brought a premises liability lawsuit against the county asserting under OCGA § 15-3-1 that he was an invitee at the park and the county had failed to use ordinary care in keeping the property safe.

The County answered the complaint by alleging it was entitled to sovereign immunity, along with the protection of the Recreational Properties Act. Under OCGA § 51-3-22, a landowner doesn’t owe a duty to keep the property safe for recreational purposes, or to warn about dangerous conditions to those entering for recreational purposes, except as specifically set forth in OCGA §15-3-25. Under OCGA § 51-3-23, a landowner who directly or indirectly invites or lets someone use the property for recreational reasons doesn’t give assurances the property is safe for any purpose. Permitting a visitor’s use also doesn’t confer the legal status of a licensee or invitee to whom a duty of care is owed.

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When you stay at a hotel in Atlanta, you assume the hotel owner takes care to make sure the property is reasonably safe for visitors. Unfortunately, this is not always true. Additionally, you’re expected to stay aware of your surroundings and respond appropriately to them. If you are injured in a slip and fall accident at a hotel in Atlanta, you may be able to recover damages in an Atlanta premises liability claim, but only if the hotel had superior knowledge of the condition that caused your fall. In a recent Georgia appellate case, a plaintiff sued a hotel to obtain damages she’d suffered when she slipped and fell on a sidewalk at the defendant’s hotel.

The case arose when a grandmother and her grandchildren stayed at the defendant’s hotel. One evening they went to the hotel pool. There was nothing slippery on the sidewalk as they went from the hotel room to the pool, which was nearby. The grandmother stayed in the pool area for about an hour. There were about six other guests there. After an hour, the grandmother took the youngest child to the bathroom. It was evening, and the child was dripping water. There were lights over the sidewalk, which revealed it was slick and wet. Some enamel on the sidewalk was peeling. The grandmother told the child to slow down, realizing the area was wet. However, she slipped and fell on the sidewalk, and sustained injuries.

She sued the hotel for damages. In response to the hotel’s summary judgment motion, she filed an expert affidavit from an OSHA trainer who provided the opinion that the hotel hadn’t kept the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition and that the deteriorated paint on the sidewalk increased the risk of pedestrian slip and fall. The expert also opined that the grandmother’s fall was caused by the uneven surface of the sidewalk. The summary judgment motion was denied.

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When a property owner in Atlanta has reason to foresee there will be an injury-producing crime against certain visitors on his or her property, that property owner may be held accountable for the damages arising out of that crime in an Atlanta premises liability claim. In a recent Georgia appellate case, the court considered the sexual assault of a 12-year-old in an apartment building. Her conservator sued the apartment’s management company for its negligence, as well as negligent security. The court denied the company’s motion for summary judgment. The company appealed.

The case arose at a 9-story apartment building that provided Section 8 housing. The defendant company had taken some steps towards security. Visitors needed to sign in and there was a list of visitors banned from the building. The residents needed key fobs to come into the building, and there were security cameras as well as a security guard. The police were called, and the perpetrator pled guilty to child molestation and rape. Additionally, the plaintiff filed a premises liability action based on the theory that the defendants had negligently failed to keep the apartment safe and to adequately protect invitees, as well as negligent security under OCGA section 51-3-1.

The defendants asked for summary judgment on the grounds that the perpetrator’s intervening criminal act wasn’t foreseeable because there wasn’t proof of prior substantially similar criminal acts on or near the apartment complex. The lower court heard oral arguments on motions. It denied the motion for summary judgment on the premises liability claim. It found there was a jury question on whether the defendants should’ve foreseen the particular risk presented by the perpetrator.

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You can bring an Atlanta premises liability lawsuit against a homeowner or property owner or property manager that negligently fails to keep the property reasonably safe for a patron, customer, tenant or another invitee. In a recent slip and fall case, a defendant property management company appealed the denial of its summary judgment motion. The case arose when a woman and her daughter took a car to an area of their apartment complex. They were going to vacuum the car. The woman stepped out and went onto a landscaped area that had embedded rocks around the vacuum. When she tried to grab the vacuum, she fell and was hurt.

She sued the property management company on the grounds that she’d slipped on a foreign substance. The defense attorney asked her about what had caused her to fall and what caused her foot to slip. She testified she didn’t know. However, when her attorney asked her why she thought she fell, she answered that the rocks were very slippery. There wasn’t any water on the rocks, and she didn’t see any liquid on the ground.

The management company asked for summary judgment on the grounds that there wasn’t any evidence of a dangerous condition. The lower court denied the motion on the basis that there was proof from which the jury would be able to determine the rocks were slippery because of the water from car wash facility. The lower court asked for immediate review. The court granted interlocutory review.

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