When you suffered from a personal injury that happened on the property of a third party, it can put you and your family through a lot of stress. Not only are you enduring physical pain during your recovery, but the mental anguish that you have been going through trying to establish liability and dealing with the insurance company can take a toll on you and your family. If you believe that you were injured because the property owner showed a lack of care, you may be entitled to recover damages.
Our Athens premises liability lawyer are legal experts in personal injury cases. We can help you file a premises liability claim, gather evidence to support the liability of the property owner, and negotiate a settlement for damages.
Do I Have a Premises Liability Claim?
Premises liability refers to situations where the victim was injured while they were on a property owned or controlled by someone else, and the owner or person controlling the property was negligent in keeping the property safe. The claim must have the following elements:
Duty of care
The property owner’s legal duty of care must be established. For instance, any commercial property must be maintained by the owner so the premises are safe for their customers, guests, employees, or visitors. You must show that when you were on the property, the property owner owed you reasonable care.
Breach of Responsibility
You must show that the property owner breached that duty of care by not taking reasonable measures in maintaining the property up to standards.
Your Injury is Connected to the Breach of Responsibility
In addition to showing negligence on the part of the property owner, you must show that their negligence directly caused your injury. For instance, there was a spill in a grocery store, the store owner knew about it, but he did not have it cleaned up right away. You slipped on the spill and were injured. This would show the direct cause and effect of the negligence.
If you are unsure whether or not your situation qualifies for a premises liability claim, do not assume that it does not. Each case is unique, and situations are not always clear-cut. Discuss this with one of our seasoned attorneys at H Groves Law, and we can help you determine if you have a valid claim.
What are Common Injuries in Premises Liability Cases in Athens, GA?
The most common types of accidents that we see include the following:
- Slipping and falling on a wet surface
- Tripping on an unmarked step or an uneven surface or
- Bites from dogs that are not effectively controlled
- Accidents on the escalator and elevator
- Insufficient fire safety
- Being hit by a falling object like merchandise falling from a high shelf
- The collapse of a deck or balcony, or other structural failings resulting in injury
- Inadequate security, or over-zealous security who used unreasonable force against you, or who falsely accused you of a crime that you did not commit.
- Swimming pool accidents
- Faulty stairs or railings
- Children injured while playing in an unsafe area
Who is Responsible for an Injury in a Premises Liability Case?
Georgia Code § 51-3-1 states that any owner or person who controls the property, who invites others to their premises by an expressed or implied invitation, is obligated to exercise ordinary care in making their premises safe. Trespassers or anyone not authorized to be on the property (except for children) are not protected.
Therefore, in order to prove there was premises liability, you have to establish the following:
- The property had conditions that rendered the area unsafe
- The owner knew about the unsafe condition, or he should have known about the unsafe issues if he was more diligent in taking care of the property
- The owner did nothing to fix or remove the hazards. He did not warn you about the potential dangers.
- The unsafe condition caused you to be injured.
What if My Child is Injured?
As mentioned earlier, in Georgia, generally, a property owner is not subject to premises liability if the person injured was a trespasser. However, that does not apply to children.
Georgia has a common-law doctrine called “attractive nuisance” that obligates a property owner to secure any potential hazard that might attract children to the premises and unintentionally hurt themselves, regardless if the child was not invited. Attractive nuisances are environments that are dangerous, but which might be appealing to youngsters who might be too young to understand that they are trespassing or that the area is dangerous. Here are some examples:
- Areas not in use, like drained swimming pools. These must be secured behind a locked fence. The fence must be high enough so a child cannot climb it easily.
- Any open well or pit must be covered securely so a child cannot open the cover.
- Construction sites must be secured by a fence around the perimeter so children cannot enter the area.
What If I was Injured at My Workplace?
If you were injured at work, you are covered under worker’s compensation. Under Georgia law, you generally cannot file a premises liability claim against your employer because worker’s compensation covers it.
The reason is that worker’s compensation is a no-fault system. You do not have to establish negligence on the part of the employer. You just have to show that you were injured while you were on the job and that you suffered a loss in wages as well as incurred medical expenses. In exchange for this, you cannot sue your employer.
It is important to note that worker’s compensation does not cover pain and suffering.
In a premises liability claim, the property owner cannot be your employer. You do need to prove that the property owner was negligent and that your injuries result from that negligence. The settlement from the premises liability claim can include pain and suffering among other damages.
Although you cannot file a premises liability claim against your employer, if you were hurt on the job because of a hazard created by a third party, not your employer, you may be entitled to file a separate claim against the third party in addition to worker’s compensation.
It can often be difficult to figure out whether you should file a premise liability claim or a worker’s compensation claim, or both. These separate claims can overlap and can be quite complex. The legal experts at H Groves Law can analyze the details of your case and help you decide the best course of action to follow for maximum compensation.
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Premises Liability Claim?
According to Georgia Code § 9-3-33, the statute of limitations for filing a premises liability claim is two years from the date you incurred your injury. If you do not file your claim within this time, you give up your right to take legal action for the claim.
Even though you get two years to file, the years can go by quickly. Gathering facts and evidence can take time. Also, there is an advantage to not delaying filing your claim because details can become muddled as time passes. Not using an experienced attorney will compound that time because you would have to figure out how to navigate through the complex legal system in filing the claim yourself. Therefore, contact H Groves Law as soon as you can so we can help you gather and sort through the evidence and present a strong claim against the party who caused your injury.
Call H Groves Law Today
Injuries can happen anywhere, at any time, as you are going through the activities in your daily life. Property owners have the legal obligation to maintain their property so people who visit their premises have a reasonable expectation to not be harmed. However, when the property owner or the one who controls the property neglects this obligation, and you were injured because of the negligence, Georgia premises liability law allows you to file a claim against the owner or the party controlling the property. You can file a claim against a homeowner, retailer, a business, property manager, landlord, or a government entity for the damages that you have suffered.
This can be a complicated process, but you do not have to fight for your rights alone. The attorneys at H Groves Law are seasoned litigators in personal injury cases. We have helped hundreds of clients successfully win their premises liability claims. We will collect and examine all evidence, interview witnesses, document findings, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. We will aggressively fight for your rights and negotiate for a settlement that you deserve. You do not pay us any fees unless we win the case for you.
Call H Groves Law in Athens today at (770) 329-1868 to schedule a free consultation about your case. Let us do the work for you while you focus on your healing and recovery. When you let H Groves Law represent you, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.