Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia personal injury case that arose after an accident that occurred in the Dominican Republic. The case required the court to determine if the lower court correctly held that the case should be transferred from Georgia, where the plaintiff filed the lawsuit, to the Dominican Republic. Finding that Georgia’s out-of-state venue statute only applied to cases that were being transferred to other states, the court denied the defendant’s request to transfer the case.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was vacationing in the Dominican Republic when she was injured while on a zip-line course. Evidently, one of the zip-lines collapsed while the plaintiff was on the course.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the operator of the course. Because the defendant corporation was based out of Georgia, the plaintiff – who was from Michigan – filed the case in Georgia. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the “balance of private and public factors” weighed in favor of transferring the case to the Dominican Republic. Relying on OCGA § 9-10-31.1, the trial court agreed and dismissed the plaintiff’s case so that it could be refiled in the Dominican Republic. The plaintiff appealed.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit discussing whether a maintenance worker’s claim against an apartment complex could proceed under a premises liability theory. The court concluded that the worker did not assume the risk of injury because the nature of the work he was hired to complete did not put him on notice regarding the risk that ultimately led to his death.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was employed as a maintenance worker and was hired by the defendant apartment complex for occasional odd-jobs. Apparently, among the jobs the defendant asked the plaintiff to complete was to change the lightbulbs atop four light posts surrounding the complex’s tennis courts.

Evidently, the plaintiff changed the light bulbs once in the past by affixing two ladders together to reach the top of the light posts. When the defendant asked the plaintiff to replace the bulbs a second time, the plaintiff requested that the defendant rent a scissor lift because the poles were so high. The defendant rejected the plaintiff’s request, and the plaintiff agreed to change the light bulbs using the two-ladder system he had previously used. As the plaintiff was replacing one of the bulbs, the base of the pole snapped. The plaintiff fell to his death.

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In a recent Georgia slip-and-fall opinion, a state appellate court discussed whether a plaintiff’s case should proceed to trial against a defendant maintenance company. The case affirms the importance of conducting a thorough investigation before filing any Georgia personal injury lawsuit.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s recitation of the facts leading up to the accident, the plaintiff was working at a restaurant when he was asked to empty a grease trap into a dumpster that was located in the rear parking lot of the restaurant. The plaintiff was in the process of walking to the dumpster when he stepped into an uncovered water meter. The plaintiff could not see the hole because he was carrying the grease trap. After tripping over the hole, the plaintiff spilled the hot grease on his face and body. He suffered serious injuries as a result.

Initially, the plaintiff filed a claim against his employer and several other parties. However, later the plaintiff named the defendant maintenance company after learning about a contract that the defendant maintenance company had with the plaintiff’s employer. (Note: this case only deals with the maintenance company; the plaintiff’s other claims were handled in separate cases.)

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in Georgia slip-and-fall case dismissing the plaintiff’s claims against the defendant based on the plaintiff’s failure to show that the defendant knew of the hazard that caused her fall. The case is especially important, because the defense used by the defendant is one that is commonly asserted in Georgia premises liability cases.

Georgia Premises Liability Claims

To succeed in a Georgia premises liability claim, a plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant landowner failed to exercise reasonable care in keeping the premises safe. Georgia courts have held that a plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant knew or should have known of the hazard in order to establish a defendant’s lack of reasonable care.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was at the defendant doctor’s office when she felt something “grab” her right pant leg as she walked by a desk. This caused the plaintiff to stumble, at which point she lost her balance and fell to the ground. After the fall, the plaintiff saw a wheelchair next to the desk, right next to the right side of her body.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability case requiring the court to determine whether the owner of an auto repair shop could be held liable for the actions of a mechanic who leased a portion of the shop from the owner. Ultimately, the court concluded that the owner’s duty to safely maintain the shop was non-delegable, and thus the court upheld the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff took his car to a repair shop that was owned by the defendant. The defendant leased a portion of his shop to another mechanic. The agreement required that the mechanic obtain liability insurance and also stated that the mechanic would hold the defendant “harmless from any liability or damage, whether caused by [the mechanic’s] operations or otherwise.” The mechanic never obtained liability insurance coverage.

Evidently, the mechanic greeted the plaintiff, and agreed to look at his car. The mechanic pulled the plaintiff’s car into one of the shop’s bays, and placed it up on a lift. The mechanic discovered an oil leak and then lowered the car. However, as the vehicle reached the ground, it crushed the plaintiff’s foot.

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In a recent Georgia premises liability case, a court discussed a store’s obligation to maintain the area immediately around the entranceway into the building. Ultimately, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case after finding that store’s parking lot was not included in the area that the store was required to maintain.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff had just finished shopping at a Big Lots store and was walking back to her car when she slipped and fell after stepping in a wet substance in the store’s parking lot. The plaintiff was injured as a result of the fall and filed a Georgia premises liability lawsuit against Big Lots, arguing that the store was responsible for keeping its parking lot free of hazards.

The evidence presented showed that the plaintiff’s fall occurred about 45 feet from the door to the store. Additionally, the Big Lots was located in a shopping center that was owned by a third-party company, which was in charge of maintaining the parking lots. After the plaintiff fell, the store manager came out to clean up the spill, explaining, “if there’s something that needs to be handled immediately … we would take care of that ourselves temporarily until someone could get there … but the parking lot has always been handled by the landlord.”

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability case, dismissing the plaintiff’s claims against the defendant due to the fact that the plaintiff waited too long to file her case. In deciding the case, the court had to consider whether a clause in the residential lease between the two parties that limited the amount of time the plaintiff had to file a lawsuit against the defendant was enforceable. Ultimately, the court concluded that the clause was enforceable, and thus, the plaintiff’s case was time-barred.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff slipped and fell after stepping on a curb that crumbled when she stepped on it. The curb was located in a common area in the apartment complex where the plaintiff lived. Approximately two years after she fell, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant corporation that owned and operated the complex.

Prior to moving into her apartment, both the plaintiff and a representative of the defendant signed a residential lease agreement. Contained in that agreement was a clause whereby the plaintiff agreed that any claims against the defendant would be brought within one year. The normal statute of limitations for a personal injury case in Georgia is two years. The defendant argued that the lease agreement was binding and that the plaintiff was required to have brought her case within one year of her injury.

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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.

The 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.Ultimately, 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.When 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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