Recently, an appellate court reversed a lower court’s decision to grant the summary judgment motion of a property management in a Georgia slip-and-fall lawsuit. The case stems from an accident where a 60-year-old woman slipped and fell at her apartment complex. According to the facts as laid out by the court, the plaintiff was walking to get the mail when she tripped on an undetermined obstruction.
Evidently, the plaintiff sued the owner of the complex and the property management company under a premises liability theory. The trial court denied the owner’s motion for summary judgment but granted the property management company’s motion. The woman appealed the decision and argued that the property management company should be liable because they had sufficient control over the property.
Under Georgia law, owners and occupiers have specific statutory duties to the property they control. These individuals and entities must exercise “ordinary care in keeping the premises safe”. In certain instances, property management companies are considered independent contractors. However, these contractors may have the status of an occupier if they are in control of the property. In fact, in some cases, Georgia property management companies have the same duties as the actual owner of the property. The transfer of responsibility may lead to the owner not owing a duty to an injury victim if they surrender possession to the independent contractor.
Georgia slip-and-fall victims who want to recover from the culpable party must be able to establish two main elements. First, they need to prove that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous aspect of the property. Additionally, the plaintiff must be able to show that they exercised ordinary care and still did not have knowledge of the hazard.
In this case, the property management company attempted to defeat the plaintiff’s claim by arguing that they did not have the approval to repair the ramp. The property management company cited an agreement between themselves and the owner, which stated that they could not make any capital improvements, except in the case of an emergency, without approval from the owner. The property management company argued that the owner would not provide the requisite authorization. However, the appellate court found that the property management company had some level of control and possession of the complex. The court also found that the dangerous ramp could constitute an emergency; in which case, owner approval was not necessary. The appellate court ultimately reversed the property managements favorable summary judgment motion.
Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Slip-and-Fall Accident?
The personal injury attorneys at McAleer Law can help you bring a Georgia slip-and-fall lawsuit. Establishing liability can be confusing and overwhelming when there are multiple potentially liable parties. An attorney at McAleer Law can help you determine what your rights and remedies are, and who may be responsible for your injuries. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you sustained. To learn more, contact the dedicated Atlanta personal injury attorneys at McAleer Law by calling 404-622-5337 to schedule a free initial consultation.