Court Addresses Superior Knowledge Requirement in Georgia Slip and Fall Case

A state appellate court recently issued an opinion addressing an issue that frequently comes up in premises liability cases.  Specifically, the case involved the “superior knowledge” requirement.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff suffered injuries when he fell through a skylight that he was dismantling at a church. The church recently purchased a building from a defunct hospital, and the plaintiff, another church member, and a pastor undertook the disassembling. The plaintiff volunteered to remove the structure based on his previous experience working with a contractor to rebuild a shed at his house. The pastor at the church used a forklift to lift the plaintiff and the other church member onto the roof. No one was wearing a hardhat or any other safety harnesses. The plaintiff did not hear a warning to watch out for a skylight and subsequently fell through the light and suffered severe injuries. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the church and the hospital. He alleged that the church was liable because he was an invitee of the church, so the hospital and the church owed him a duty to exercise reasonable care to make sure that the roof was safe.

Under Georgia law, the crux of a premises liability lawsuit often hinges on the property owner’s superior knowledge of the dangerous condition. Plaintiffs cannot recover damages if they could have avoided their injuries by exercising ordinary care. Furthermore, Georgia courts generally look at whether the plaintiff exhibited common sense to prevent their injuries. Usually, Georgia slip and fall cases involve two types of cases:  static defect claims and foreign substance claims.

Static defects are those that are not inherently dangerous and exist where the condition may be expected. Some common examples are maintenance holes, cracks in sidewalks, and drainage holes. In these instances, defendants will frequently argue that the plaintiff could have and should have seen the defect, but this defense is not enough to avoid liability. Foreign substance claims involve situations in which an invitee slips and falls on a foreign substance, such as an oil spill, banana peel, or water. In these instances, the plaintiff must show that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the substance, and the plaintiff was prevented from discovering the material.

Here, the court found that the defendant did not have any superior knowledge of the dangerous condition of the roof. The court reasoned that the plaintiff had equal knowledge of the hazard and failed to exhibit the appropriate level of care to avoid his injuries.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Slip and Fall Accident?

If you or someone you know suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages that you sustained. The attorneys at McAleer Law have a long history of recovering substantial compensation awards for accident victims. Our skilled litigators have extensive experience overcoming the unique hurdles that many Georgia slip and fall cases present. We understand that each case is different, and our clients receive individualized representation based on their injuries, damages, and preferences. McAleer Law clients have recovered damages for losses such as medical bills, property damage, and pain and suffering. Contact McAleer Law to discuss your case with a Georgia injury attorney at 404-622-5337.

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