A duty of care is a property owner’s legal obligation to ensure their premise is safe to access and properly maintained. This means that property owners are legally obligated to protect their visitors and guests from accidents stemming from hazards on the property. If a property or homeowner is negligent in performing this duty, then they can be held liable for the resulting injuries and damages.
A few examples might help illustrate this better. If a spill happens in a grocery store, then an employee should place a wet floor sign as they go to grab a mop. If a hotel owner notices an electrical wiring issue that affects an outdoor recreation area, then they must close it off until an electrician can fix it. If a public sidewalk has cracks and tripping hazards, then the local government that owns that public walkway should have it fixed.
You may be entitled to damages and a premises liability claim. Henningsen Injury Attorneys, P.C., a personal injury law firm based in Atlanta, can if you’ve been injured. Commercial property owners have the money and resources to fight premises liability claims. It’s wise to hire a personal injury attorney who can fight back and defend your rights. The business is going to argue that they are not liable for your injuries. The insurance company that represents them is more interested in saving money than paying out what victims deserve in settlements.
You have rights under Georgia personal injury laws. To learn more about premises liability and personal injury law, visit atlantapiattorney.com/atlanta-personal-injury/premises-liability/.
Proving Liability In a Premises Liability Claim
To win compensation after being injured on private property or a public space, you will need to prove:
- That the property owner owed you a duty of care. This means that you must show that you were legally on their property and that they had an obligation to ensure your safety.
- That the property owner breached their duty of care by not warning you of a hazardous condition and/or not fixing a hazardous condition
- That the breach or negligence caused your injuries
- Your injuries resulted in damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, future lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering
Types of Premises Liability Claims
There are many types of premises liability claims. Every case is different.
Hotels are businesses that should provide comfort to visitors. Myriad accidents can occur in a hotel due to electrical issues, defective elevators and escalators, roofing problems, and slippery floors — most commonly around pool areas and the lobby.
Slip and Fall
Some of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Spilled liquids in bars and restaurants
- Slippery pool decks
- Defective handrails or broken steps
- Uneven pavement in the parking lot or along sidewalks
- Ripped carpeting
Slip and fall accidents can lead to injuries that range in severity from mild to severe. They include:
- Broken bones
- Knee, ankle, and foot injuries
- Neck injuries and whiplash
- Severe cuts and lacerations
- Shoulder, elbow, and wrist injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
Georgia imposes a strict liability rule on owners of animals that attack people. This means that dog owners can be held liable for damages to a dog bite victim regardless if the dog had ever attacked a person before. Additionally, most jurisdictions have leash laws that mandate where a dog is required to be restrained by a leash. Dog bites are not only painful but they put the victim at risk of developing diseases and scars.
Property owners can be held liable for damages or injuries that occurred on their property due to a lack of adequate security. Negligent security incidents happen on residential and commercial properties, whether they are publicly or privately owned, such as hotels, banks, shopping centers, apartment buildings, hospitals, gas stations, schools, bars, and restaurants.
Examples of negligent security include inadequate lighting, broken security gates or fences, hiring untrained security guards, and not replacing malfunctioning security cameras.
Swimming Pool Injuries
Electrical defects, drownings, and slip and fall accidents are some of the most common swimming pool injuries. Diving injuries can lead to broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and catastrophic back and spinal cord injuries. Drains can also be a hazard as they can entrap a swimmer with their powerful suction.
Nursing Home Injuries
Over 10 million elderly adults suffer from nursing home abuse every year, even at licensed facilities. Professional care staff may physically, sexually, or financially abuse residents. Signs of elderly abuse include dehydration, malnutrition, and bedsore. Emotional abuse of residents could take the form of social isolation, humiliation, or verbal threats.
What Are Damages In a Premises Liability Case?
A victim of a premises liability claim is entitled to receive compensation for their economic and noneconomic losses under the state personal injury laws. That means that an individual can recover their medical expenses, lost wages, future lost earning capacity, and other costs related to their injury. If your injury leaves you incapable of walking without the assistance of a wheelchair or walker, then the cost of that medical device will be included. If you require physical therapy to help you recover after your injuries, then your rehabilitation services will also be covered.
Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, compensate plaintiffs for subjective yet real losses, most commonly for pain and suffering. Some injuries impact a person for the rest of their life. They may not be able to participate in their family’s lives or advance in their career like they wanted to. In these cases, the accident caused much more than just physical injuries. It negatively affected someone’s life.
Examples of noneconomic damages include:
- Mental anguish
- Permanent disfigurement
- Full or partial paralysis
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
Why Should I Hire an Attorney?
You may be feeling overwhelmed and trying to make sense of the legal information you’ve found online. An attorney, however, handles cases like yours every day. They not only have the necessary knowledge of the legal system to help you recover the damages that you deserve in your settlement, but they can collect evidence that you might not. You should be more focused on your recovery rather than being stressed over your claim. A personal injury attorney handles your case for you while you get the rest that you need.
An attorney deposes witnesses and gathers expert witness testimony. An expert witness is somebody with knowledge or experience in a specialized field. They can explain why a swimming pool accident occurred, highlight how better security could have prevented a crime, or provide a deeper understanding of how another accident occurred on a property. Their testimony is a useful explanation of the cause of your accident and resultant injuries.
A personal injury attorney who has been in practice for many years knows who they can talk to to help with your case.
Defenses In Premises Liability Cases
Georgia is a comparative negligence state, which means that if the victim shares any blame in their accident, then the amount of compensation that is awarded to them is reduced by the percentage of fault they share. What this means is that the defendant is going to try to argue that you are to blame in some way for the accident. They may point out your footwear, if you were under the influence of alcohol after leaving a bar, or if you were distracted at the time of the accident.
Another defense is the assumption of risk, which is used often in cases when the victim participates in an activity that involves some type of hazard, like going on an amusement park ride. This defense is based on the idea that you were aware that you were doing something that could result in harm to yourself or others yet you chose to participate anyway. Therefore, you voluntarily accepted the risk.
Lastly, the defendant could argue that they did act with reasonable care, or they can argue that there was another cause of your injuries that was unrelated to their negligence. A failure to prove vital elements in your case could result in you not getting compensation. Contact an attorney today who can work on your case so that you get the compensation you deserve. With an attorney fighting for you, it is easier to establish the property owner’s duty of care.