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.