Georgia Premises Liability: Hazardous Conditions Cause Injuries to Visitors


September 10, 2010

A premises liability claim involves injuries that occur when someone is on the property of another.  This can include slip and falls, dangerous natural conditions, man made hazards, criminal attacks, and false arrest or imprisonment, to name just a few examples. If you are injured on the property of another, you may have a right to seek compensation for your injuries from the person who owns or is in control of the property.

A premises liability case can be based on injuries occurring in residential and commercial buildings, shopping centers and parking facilities, hotels and casinos, amusement parks, airports, healthcare facilities, nightclubs and bars, as well as universities and private schools.  Some governmental entities such as public schools may be immune from suit under certain circumstances. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we have been helping those injured on the premises of others for over 25 years.

The area of Georgia accident law that provides for the liability of an owner or possessor of property for those injured on the property is referred to as "premises liability." The degree of protection that is owed to a visitor and the obligations to make one's property safe to others depends on how a visitor to the property is legally classified. There are three basic classifications, each mandating a different standard of care to make the premises safe:

Invitees: This is a person who has a legitimate business purpose for being on the property for the benefit of both the property owner and the visitor. An invitee has either implied or express consent to be on the property. A common example would be a person visiting a department store to shop, but would also include a person who is hired to perform work on the property as well as members of an organization participating in a meeting. A property owner owes an invitee the highest obligation of care and must exercise reasonable care to make the premises safe.

Licensee: This class of visitor is basically a social guest. It may be friend, relative or neighbor who is visiting the property. This is someone who is not a customer or in a contractual relationship with the owner but is on the property for his own interests, such as to socialize or sell a subscription. An owner owes a licensee a duty to refrain from wantonly and recklessly exposing him to hidden hazards. A property owner may be liable if he or she knows or has reason to know of the hazard and fails to take reasonable steps to correct it or provide a warning. This lower obligation to protect a licensee applies as long as the property owner does not know the visitor is on the property. If the owner knows a licensee is on the property, the property owner owes him the same duty of care as an invitee.

Trespasser: A person who is trespassing is on one's property without permission. Property owners owe trespassers a duty not to willfully or wantonly injure a trespasser. Children who trespass are a little bit of a special case. A child may not understand the nature of a hazardous condition so the property owner may have a greater obligation with respect to a child, depending on the type of hazard.

The classification of a person on the property often dictates both the level of care required by a property owner and whether the owner will be liable. There are a large number of hazards or risks of serious injury that can be posed by another person's property.  Here are a few examples:

Slip and Fall: A slip and fall accident resulting from a hazardous condition on the premise can include such items as a foreign substance, such as a liquid on the floor, a naturally occurring condition, such as ice or snow, or a defectively waxed or polished floor.  Remember, these are just a few examples. 

Inadequate Security: When criminal assaults are inflicted on those who visit a business establishment, it is often difficult to obtain recovery against the attacker because their identity is unknown, there is no evidence, or they have no resources from which to pay a judgment. The issue is one of the forseeability by the owner or operator that such a criminal act would occur based on the frequency and volume of past similar criminal activity.  In addition, a lawyer must review any security already in place at the time of the incident to help determine the responsibility of the landowner.

Attractive Nuisance: An attractive nuisance is a man-made hazard which is likely to attract a child, such as a swimming pool. The basic idea is that a property owner should anticipate that a trespassing child may be attracted to the property by the nuisance and build a fence or barrier to keep children away from the hazard.  The doctrine of attractive nuisance is based on the fact that a child simply may not appreciate the risk of danger associated with the property.

Acts of Employees: An employer is generally responsible for the negligent or intentional acts of its employees within the course and scope of employment. If an employee does not exercise the appropriate level of care to protect those on the property, they may be liable for resulting injuries. A common example is overly aggressive security guards or loss prevention personnel that may expose an employer to liability for false imprisonment or assault.

This is only a small sampling of common hazards that may result in serious injuries or even fatalities to those who are on another person's property. When serious injuries occur from hazards that occur on the property of another, it is important that the circumstances be carefully investigated and that the purpose of the visit be analyzed and properly classified. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, our Georgia premises liability attorneys have been helping those injured by hazardous conditions on another person's property or business in Atlanta and throughout the State of Georgia for over 25 years. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia including, but not limited to, Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller and rural towns in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com.  No matter where are you are in Georgia, we can help and we will travel to see you.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.