Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability lawsuit requiring the court to determine whether the defendant landowner was immune from liability under Georgia’s recreational-use statute. Ultimately, the court determined that the recreational-use statute did provide immunity to the landowner, and the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

Four-WheelerThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving spouse of a man who died while riding a four-wheeler on the defendant’s property. The deceased was a member of a hunting club that was set up by a friend. The friend had arranged to lease some of the defendant’s land solely for the purposes of hunting. The lease contemplated that others would be accompanying the decedent’s friend, but no one else was granted explicit permission to use the land in the lease.

On the day of the accident, the plaintiff’s husband was riding a four-wheeler, scouting out a good location to hunt. During his scouting expedition, the man ran over an old well and fell inside, where he sadly died.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit involving the death of a student while at school. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss the state’s official immunity doctrine as it applied to the defendant teacher’s decision to leave her classroom and ask another teacher to keep an eye on her students.

ClassroomUltimately, the court concluded that the school’s written policy to “never” leave the students unsupervised left some discretion in the hands of teachers. Thus, the teacher’s actions in leaving the class were discretionary, and she was entitled to official immunity.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the parents of a student who died after falling and breaking his collarbone while in class. At the time of the accident, the teacher in charge of the class had left momentarily and had asked the teacher of a neighboring classroom to keep an eye on her students.

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Landowners have a duty to those whom they invite or allow onto their property. The nature and extent of the duty owed to a visitor depends on several factors, most notably the relationship between the parties. Thus, trespassers are owed the least amount of care and business invitees the most.

Broken GlassWhen someone is injured on the property of another party, they may be entitled to compensation through a Georgia premises liability lawsuit. However, in order to succeed in a lawsuit against a defendant property owner, the victim must establish that the defendant violated the duty owed to the plaintiff. Most often, this is by failing to take some corrective action regarding a dangerous condition on the property.

One element of a Georgia premises liability lawsuit that is a frequent subject of litigation is the “superior knowledge” requirement. Essentially, a premises liability plaintiff must not only show that the defendant landowner knew (or should have known) of the hazard, but also that the landowner had superior knowledge of the hazard. A recent case illustrates how the Georgia Court of Appeals applies this rule.

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All Georgia personal injury cases must be brought within a certain amount of time, as described in the applicable statutes of limitations. The statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury. While there are some exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations, that will be the governing statute of limitations in most personal injury cases.

Dilapidated GarageOther causes of action have different statutes of limitations. For example, lawsuits involving personal property are subject to a four-year statute of limitations. In some cases, it may not be clear which statute of limitations applies, and the parties must litigate the applicable statute of limitations. This was the situation in a recent Georgia personal injury opinion in which the parents of a child were seeking compensation for the medical bills they incurred after their son was injured in the plaintiff’s home.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs rented a home from the defendant. While the plaintiffs were living at the home, their minor son was injured when he leaned up against a brick wall and the wall collapsed. Initially, the parents filed the lawsuit on behalf of their minor son. However, once the son turned 18, the parents voluntarily withdrew the case so that their son could proceed on his own behalf.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability lawsuit filed by the surviving spouse of a man who was killed in a farm accident. The case required the court to determine whether the defendant farm owner could be held liable for the death of the plaintiff’s husband. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s husband assumed the risks involved with the work he was doing at the time he died, and therefore his wife was not entitled to pursue a claim against the farm owner.

TractorThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s husband was a long-time employee of the defendant farm owner. The defendant and his son trained the plaintiff’s husband on the various tasks that he was to perform around the farm, and they made all necessary tools available for use.

One day, the defendant asked the plaintiff’s husband to remove two large tires from a tractor. The defendant told the plaintiff, however, not to remove the wheels by himself and to get assistance from someone else around the farm. Later that day, the defendant’s father-in-law was playing with his granddaughter when he saw the plaintiff’s husband removing the wheels of the tractor by himself. One of the wheels was easily removed without incident, but the plaintiff’s husband was having difficulty removing the second wheel.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability case involving a woman who fell while exiting the defendant church after a funeral. The court was tasked with determining whether the plaintiff’s allegations were sufficient to survive a defense motion for summary judgment, based on the allegation that the defendant had no knowledge of the dangerous condition. However, since the court concluded that the lack of a handrail may have constituted a dangerous condition, and there was evidence to show that the defendant had knowledge of the lack of a handrail, the court concluded that summary judgment was not appropriate.

Dark StairwayThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was attending a funeral at the defendant church. After the services, the plaintiff began to leave out the front door where she had entered. However, the deacon told her to exit out the back door.

As the plaintiff was leaving out the back door, there were two steps. The plaintiff testified that the steps were dark and steep, and she could not see how many there were. As she tried to navigate her way down the steps, she fell, resulting in serious injuries. The plaintiff also testified that she tried to reach for a handrail as she fell, but one was not installed.

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Earlier this month, the Georgia Supreme Court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability case that was brought by a woman who was seriously injured when a tree that had previously sustained major damage fell on her while a maintenance worker was attempted to safely lower the tree to the ground. The case presented several interesting questions regarding the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Ultimately, the court affirmed a lower court ruling that permitted the plaintiff’s case to proceed toward trial.

Fallen TreeThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a tenant at an apartment complex owned and operated by the defendants. During a particularly nasty storm, a tree on an adjacent piece of property sustained major wind damage and toppled over, landing partially on top of the apartment building. The plaintiff was concerned about the danger the tree posed and contacted the defendants, asking them to remove the tree.

After several attempts at contacting the defendants, the tree remained suspended from the apartment building. The plaintiff knew a fellow resident who occasionally worked for the defendants, performing maintenance throughout the complex when it was necessary. The plaintiff contacted the maintenance worker and arranged to have him take down the tree.

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Earlier this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability case involving the tragic drowning death of a young child at a condominium swimming pool. The case required the court to determine the condo association was liable for the child’s death. Finding that the association was not negligent in any way, the court dismissed the case against the association.

Pool WaterThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in this case was the father of a young boy who drowned in a swimming pool that was located at the condominium complex where his aunt lived. At the time of the accident, the aunt was not present, but the boy was with several other family members. According to the evidence presented at trial, the pool was very crowded on the day of the accident, and the young boy was under water for approximately five minutes before he was discovered. There was also some evidence suggesting that the person who called 911 was unable to promptly give the address of the condo complex, potentially delaying the arrival of emergency responders.

After his son’s death, the boy’s father filed a personal injury lawsuit against the condo association, claiming that the association was negligent for failing to have a lifeguard present, failing to have a safety rope distinguishing the shallow part of the pool from the deep part of the pool, and failing to post a sign with the pool’s address.

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Earlier this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit that was brought against the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). The case, which was filed by a woman who had slipped and fallen on a train platform, was dismissed by the lower court. In the most recent appellate opinion, the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case, based on the finding that the accumulated rainwater should have been expected and that it did not constitute a dangerous condition.

Train StationThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was planning to take a train operated by MARTA. According to the court’s opinion, it had been raining for most of the day. As the plaintiff approached the station, she entered a covered platform area. A few feet from the door of the platform, there was a small puddle of rainwater that had accumulated. No one knew how long the puddle had been present, but the plaintiff claimed that the area where the puddle had formed was darker, and she argued that this suggested there had been an accumulation of water there on-and-off for a number of months or years.

As the plaintiff stepped into the puddle, she slipped and fell. She then filed a premises liability lawsuit against MARTA, claiming that MARTA was negligent in maintaining the train platform and that it should be held liable for her injuries.

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Earlier this month, the Court of Appeals of Georgia issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by several tenants and their guests against the landlord that owned the home. Ultimately, the court determined that the landlord could not be held liable because of the higher burden premises liability plaintiffs face when naming an out-of-possession landlord as a defendant.

Wooden DeckThe Facts of the Case

The defendant purchased a rental property in 1987. Shortly after purchasing the home, he had a contractor replace the rear deck. The landlord did not supervise the construction of the deck, but he was aware that the deck was fastened to the home using nails rather than lag bolts.

In 2010, the landlord rented the home to the plaintiffs. As a part of the lease agreement, the tenant retained exclusive possession of the property. However, the landlord agreed to make the necessary repairs when notified by the tenant.

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