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.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the doctor’s office. The plaintiff acknowledged that she did not see the wheelchair before her fall. An employee of the doctor’s office explained that the wheelchair was not present before the plaintiff’s fall, and that another employee or patient probably placed it nearby after the plaintiff’s fall.
The doctor’s office filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that the plaintiff had failed to establish that any employee of the office knew of the wheelchair’s presence or the hazard it presented to patients and their guests. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case was affirmed. The court explained that “the true basis for liability” in a Georgia premises liability lawsuit is a landowner’s “superior knowledge” of a hazard. That being the case, the court explained that, to succeed in her claim against the defendant she needed to show that the doctor’s office was aware of the hazard and she was not.
Here, the court held that the plaintiff presented no evidence that the doctor’s office was aware of the wheelchair prior to her fall. The court cited the testimony of the employee, who explained that the wheelchair was not there (or at least he did not see it) until after the plaintiff’s fall.
Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any type of Georgia slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Georgia premises liability lawsuit. At the Georgia personal injury law firm of McAleer Law, we represent injury victims and their family members in all types of Georgia injury cases, including those arising from slip-and-fall accidents. We offer free consultations to accident victims to discuss their situation and explain how we can help. To learn more, and to schedule your free consultation, call 404-622-5337 today.
See More Posts:
Georgia Court Affirms Shop Owner’s Liability for Customer’s Injuries, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, November 8, 2018.
Georgia Court Rejects Defendant’s Spoliation Claim Against Personal Injury Plaintiff, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, November 14, 2018.