Regardless of what they use their property for or what types of people they invite onto that property, all landowners in Georgia have a duty to keep their premises in safe condition so to minimize the risk of any visitor getting hurt. However, the extent of this duty can change in different situations.
Guidance from an Athens premises liability lawyer can make a huge difference in how successful your claim for damages is. A trustworthy personal injury attorney can be a valuable partner through every stage of your legal proceedings.
Primary Elements of a Premises Liability Claim
The first step to holding a property owner liable for an injury that happened on their land is to show that they owed a duty under Georgia law to protect others from foreseeable harm. Official Code of Georgia § 51-3-1 says that landowners in Georgia only owe “ordinary care” in terms of maintaining their land in safe condition and inspecting it for unknown hazards to “invitees.” Invitees are people who visit for the landowner’s benefit. Under O.C.G.A. § 51-3-2 and 51-3-3, property owners are only liable for injuries to other lawful and unlawful visitors caused by the owner’s “willful or wanton” misconduct.
Potential hazards on a property include defective steps or staircases, broke hand railings, poor lighting, tree branches or equipment left in a yard, fire hazards, and more.
Once a duty of care is established, the plaintiff must then prove the landowner breached their duty in some way that directly led to the injury. Finally, the plaintiff must show that every personal loss that they have listed in their claim was a direct result of the incident. An Athens premises liability attorney can provide vital assistance in showing how a property owner or manager acted in a negligent manner.
How Comparative Fault Could Impact Financial Recovery
Another legal restriction on premises liability lawsuits is the “modified comparative fault” system that Georgia courts follow. Under O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33, courts may assign a percentage of fault to a plaintiff they believe bears partial blame for causing or worsening their own injuries. For example, a plaintiff might be partially blamed if they wore inappropriate footwear, were engaging in horseplay, or failed to quickly seek medical care after an incident. The court can then reduce the plaintiff’s final award in proportion to their share of total fault.
Furthermore, O.C.G.A. § 51-11-7 prohibits any person to receive compensation if they were believed to have been 50 percent or more at fault for the incident. In addition to proving a landowner at fault for an event, a property liability lawyer in Athens can push back against the belief that the plaintiff was primarily at fault for what happened. This could be done with video evidence or witness testimony.
Get in Touch with an Athens Premises Liability Attorney
Everyone should feel safe when approaching a friend’s house or entering a place of business. While no personal injury claim is ever simple, claims based on premises liability can be especially challenging to manage by yourself.
A knowledgeable Athens premises liability lawyer can work with you to assemble your case and press the negligent party for compensation. Call today to learn more during a private consultation.