Dangerous Premises Cases
The law of premises liability has undergone significant transformation over the past twenty years, and Page Perry lawyers have been involved in several court rulings that allow juries rather than judges to decide most cases in which someone is injured because of the alleged negligence of a property owner. For example, store owners have a duty under Georgia law to inspect their premises and look out for spills and other hazards that might cause customers to slip or trip, but customers only have a duty to use ordinary care to avoid being injured. If the customer exercises reasonable care for his or her safety but does not see a hazard that should have been detected and eliminated through a reasonable inspection by store employees, the jury may award damages to the injured customer. While many falls are not serious enough to merit a personal injury claim, they can cause broken bones, spinal injuries, head injuries, or even death.
The above example of a fall in the supermarket is just one instance of how the condition of premises may result in legal liability for the proprietor. Increasingly, businesses such as hotels and apartment complexes are being held liable for failing to protect their patrons and tenants from criminal assaults on the property, under the same legal principles that have been historically applied in slip-and-falls and other premise liability cases. If a property manager knows that there is a problem with people being assaulted, robbed or raped on its property, but does not hire security, maintain adequate lighting, or install video cameras to deter criminal activity, the property manager may be liable if the jury finds that its conduct was unreasonable given its knowledge of the risks. Punitive damages have been awarded where landlords concealed the truth about crime on the property, causing tenants to be more vulnerable to assault. One of the partners at Page Perry was involved in the first Georgia Supreme Court decision to allow an injured hotel guest to sue a hotel for damages where the hotel had a bad history of violent crime but did not take adequate steps to protect its guests; in that case, a businessman on his honeymoon was shot in the parking lot while removing luggage from his car.
Our attorneys have also handled cases where building code violations have resulted in dangerous conditions that caused innocent people to be injured due to improperly constructed stairs, walkways, and windows. Even an injured employee – who is not permitted to sue his employer for an on-the-job injury under Georgia law – may have a claim against the premises owner if he or she is injured on the job on premises not owned by his employer. For example, Page Perry lawyers once represented an employee in an office building who underwent back surgery because he slipped on a freshly mopped floor – in that case our lawyer sued the maintenance company for the building where he worked, which had failed to put up “wet floor” signs that would have warned the client that the floor was slippery, and the maintenance company’s liability insurer ended up paying a substantial out-of-court settlement.
If you or someone you know has been seriously injured or killed because of the negligence of a property or business owner in keeping its premises safe, call Page Perry for a free consultation at (877) 673-0047.