Owning real estate is often a great investment option, but owners have many responsibilities, like paying property taxes and abiding by municipal codes. Unfortunately, property owners often overlook one essential aspect of property management: premises liability. Therefore, all property owners and those injured on someone else's property should read the entirety of this blog post.
Premises Liability & Duty of Care
In general, premises liability is the idea that property owners have a "duty of care" to people who visit their properties. In the legal world, a duty of care is the idea that a party has a responsibility to avoid any behaviors or omissions that could reasonably be foreseen to cause harm to others.
There are many "duty of care" relationships in life, so here are some prime examples:
- Teachers to their students;
- Doctors to their patients;
- Drivers to the general public; and
- Property owners to their visitors.
If a party fails to use reasonable care to avoid injuring others, then they put themselves at risk of facing a personal injury lawsuit.
Scenarios that may breach the duty of care obligations include:
- A teacher allowing a student to suffer an injury due to lack of vigilance ;
- A doctor misdiagnosing a patient due to carelessness;
- A driver injuring a pedestrian due to reckless driving;
- A property owner hurting a visitor due to lack of routine maintenance.
Georgia Premises Liability
Georgia law speaks plainly about property owners' duty of care to invited visitors.
The law states,
"Where an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe."
As business owners want people to visit their stores, customers are considered visitors concerning this law.
As you can see, property owners must keep their premises safe for visitors. If unsafe premises conditions injure a visitor, the injured may have the right to file a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner.
Common Premises Liability Lawsuits
Premises liability lawsuits can stem from any number of incidents, but some suits are more common than others. Let's take a look at some of the most common premises liability lawsuits to get a better understanding of what they are.
Slip & Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are situations where visitors trip or slip on property hazards, resulting in severe injuries. Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common forms of premises liability lawsuits due to puddles forming from inclement weather. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that millions of Americans suffer slips, trips, and falls annually.
Other causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Dirty floors;
- Uneven floor surfaces;
- Improper cable maintenance;
- Poor housekeeping (messes in walkways).
Negligent or Inadequate Security
Some businesses may face premises liability lawsuits due to negligent or inadequate security. If someone faces an attacker while on someone else's property, the victim can examine the premises to determine if negligent or inadequate security is partially to blame for the attack's occurrence.
Negligent security assumes that the crime was preventable or less likely to happen if the property owner followed appropriate security measures.
Common causes for negligent security lawsuits include:
- Lack of security personnel;
- Poor lighting;
- Broken locks, windows, or doors.
Animal & Dog Bites
You may be surprised to hear that animal bites can result in premises liability lawsuits, but the facts make sense. Animals are peoples' properties, and animal owners have a duty of care to those who interact with their pets. If an owner fails to control an animal properly, the animal could cause severe injuries to visitors.
Therefore, animal owners must protect visitors from their pets.
You may think that an animal bite is no reason to sue, but consider the fact that a majority of dog bite victims are toddlers and young kids who are the same size or smaller than their attackers. These kids can suffer permanent, life-changing injuries that require intricate and expensive reconstructive surgeries. Additionally, dog bite victims may need therapy to deal with dog-related post-traumatic stress disorder.
Facts from the CDC concerning dog bites:
- 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States every year;
- 800,000 of those bites required medical care;
- In a 2003 study, researchers found that labrador retrievers caused a majority of face-related bites on children (13.7%).
Injured on Someone's Property?
Premises liability lawsuits exist because some property managers are more interested in saving money than preventing injuries. If you or a loved one suffers injuries on someone else's property, you shouldn't have to pay medical bills and miss work at your own expense. Therefore, you should consider making a premises liability claim.
Unfortunately, many property owners don't own up to their mistakes and will fight premises liability claims. That's why anyone looking to make a claim should talk to an experienced Georgia premises liability attorney about the facts of their case.
Goldstein Hayes & Lina, LLC is an award-winning personal injury firm, and we know how to fight for our clients. As a small firm, we never compromise quality over quantity. We intentionally limit our caseloads so our clients and their cases get the representation they deserve.
We offer free consultations for all potential clients! Call (888) 425-6070 now to talk to one of our attorneys about your case.