How Do You Prove Negligence in a Premises Liability Case?
Property owners and managers have a legal responsibility to maintain safe premises, and they can be held liable for harm sustained by visitors who are lawfully on their property. However, premises liability is not absolute. It depends on proving that the owner or manager was negligent and that the negligence caused the accident that led to the injury.
Premises liability claims can be filed against a negligent person or entity controlling the property at the time of the accident that caused the injury. This may be a business owner, homeowner, landlord or government entity. Some of the most common examples of negligence are:
- Wet or slippery floors
- Insufficient lighting
- Cracked sidewalks
- Defective stairways
- Negligent security
- Poor maintenance
- Building code or fire safety violations
- Unmarked hazards or dangerous areas
Under Georgia law, the following elements must exist for a property owner or manager to be held responsible in a premises liability claim:
- Duty of care — Owners and managers have a responsibility to keep their property reasonably safe, but this responsibility can vary depending on the situation. Homeowners and business owners are held to different standards of maintaining a safe property. In addition, the legality of an injured person’s presence and purpose on the property is also relevant to the duty of care. A trespasser is generally owed a lesser duty of care than an expected visitor.
- Breach of duty — A breach of duty exists if the property owner failed to repair or warn others of dangers on their property. Again, the extent of repairs or warnings required may vary according to the circumstances.
- Accident resulting from breach of duty — You must prove that the accident resulting in your injury was caused principally by the property owner’s breach of duty and not your own negligence, such as by ignoring a posted warning. If you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault, you are not eligible for any compensation. If 50 percent or less, your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
- Damages occurring because of the injury — Finally, you must show that your injury caused damages, such as past and future medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
Note that Georgia law restricts your ability to seek damages for an injury that occurred on recreational property, such as hunting or camping grounds.
The Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC in Newnan has years of experience helping clients seek justice after suffering harm on an unsafe property. To discuss your potential premises liability claim, contact our office at 470-344-8550 or reach out to us online to schedule a free case evaluation.