Court Addresses the Burdens of Plaintiffs in a Georgia Premises Liability Lawsuit

In a recent appellate opinion, a Georgia slip and fall injury victim appealed a trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of a store owner. On appeal, the woman argued that the trial court erred in finding that the store did not contain a dangerous condition, that she possessed knowledge of the defects, and that the distraction theory could not apply.

The case stems from injuries that the woman suffered when she visited the store. The woman’s neighbor drove her to the store and parked her car on the side of the store. The parking lot contained parking abutments in the parking spaces; parking for disabled vehicles had blue abutments. When the woman was leaving the store, she walked by a sidewalk display and became distracted by the display racks and other customers. As she stepped down from the sidewalk, she hit a slanted parking abutment and fell forward, suffering serious injuries to her knee, elbow, and head. Her lawsuit against the store alleged that the store breached its duty to keep their property safe.

Under Georgia law, premises liability plaintiffs must show that their injuries were the result of a hazard on an owner’s premises that they should have removed in the exercise of ordinary care. The two main elements that Georgia slip and fall or trip and fall victims must establish is that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard, and the plaintiff, despite exhibiting ordinary care, lacked knowledge of the danger because of the defendant. Moreover, where static conditions are at issue, if a person has previously successfully negotiated the condition, the person is presumed to have equal knowledge, and therefore cannot recover for subsequent resulting injuries. Further, if nothing obstructs the injury victim’s view, the owner may appropriately assume that the invitee will realize any associated risks. In these instances, plaintiffs may assert the distraction theory. The distraction theory includes situations where the plaintiff’s attention is distracted because of a natural and usual cause. However, merely failing to look ahead will not relieve their responsibility.

In this case, the plaintiff testified that she visited the premises over 20 times before she fell, and she was familiar with the parking lot and its abutments. Further, her distraction theory claim also failed because she did not present any evidence that the display or customers blocked her view of the parking abutment. Ultimately, the court found in favor of the defendant, concluding that the danger was open and obvious, and the plaintiff could have avoided her injuries if she exercised reasonable care.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Georgia Trip and Fall?

If you or someone you know has suffered injuries or death after a Georiga slip and fall, you should contact the attorneys at McAleer Law. The attorneys at our law firm have extensive experience successfully resolving Georgia personal injury lawsuits. Our clients have recovered substantial sums of compensation during settlement and litigation. Compensation in these cases often includes payments for medical bills, ongoing medical expenses, and emotional distress. In addition to premises liability lawsuits, our firm handles various other injury lawsuits, including claims stemming from workers’ compensation disputes, pedestrian accidents, wrongful death claims, and medical malpractice lawsuits. Contact our office at 404-622-5337 to schedule your free initial consultation.

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