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Georgia Court Rejects University’s Claim of Immunity in Recent Wrongful Death Case

Recently, the Court of Appeals of Georgia issued a written opinion in an important Georgia premises liability case discussing the applicability of the state’s Recreational Property Act (RPA) to a slip-and-fall case arising out of an accident occurring at a free concert put on by a local university. The court ultimately determined that the RPA did not shield the university from liability because, although entry to the concert was free, the university may have been furthering its economic interests in putting on the concert.

The RPA

Georgia’s Recreational Property Act grants immunity to landowners who open their land for recreational purposes to the general public. In order to qualify for this immunity, a landowner must not charge a fee or receive an economic benefit for the use of their land. The stated purpose of the statute is to encourage landowners to open up their land to the public without fear of incurring financial liability should an accident occur.

The Facts of the Case

A woman was attending a free “Second Sunday” concert at a local park that was put on by a university. The park was owned by the local government, but the university had permission to use the park for the concert event. There were vendors at the concert who sold food, drink, and merchandise, but none of them paid the university. However, in a grant proposal, the university did note that its “community economic development resources” could potentially be monetized, resulting in “potential for additional revenue streams for the university.”

As the woman was leaving the concert, she fell while ascending a set of stairs that did not have a hand rail. The woman struck her head on a step and never regained consciousness. Her estate filed a premises liability lawsuit against the university. The university argued that, since it did not charge for admission to get into the concert, the RPA should protect it from liability. The plaintiff acknowledged that the university did not charge an entrance fee but argued that the university derived an economic benefit from the concert nonetheless, and immunity was not appropriate.

The court determined that the plaintiff raised a material issue that should be resolved by a jury, and summary judgement in favor of the university was not appropriate. The court explained that, given the facts presented, the university may have obtained some direct or indirect financial benefit from operating the concert series, which would then remove the case from the reach of the RPA.

Have You Been Injured on Another Party’s Property?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you have sustained. While immunity issues may arise in some cases, it is best to consult with a dedicated Georgia personal injury attorney to discuss your case because immunity issues are not present in the majority of cases. The dedicated Georgia personal injury lawyers at McAleer Law have dedicated their practice to enforcing the rights of Georgia victims. With decades of experience, we know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalf. To learn more, call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free consultation today.

See More Posts:

Georgia Court Determines Steep Stairway Without Handrail May Constitute Hazard in Recent Premises Liability Case, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, December 4, 2017.

Georgia Appellate Court Clarifies When Accumulated Rainfall Constitutes a Hazard, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, June 27, 2017.