In Georgia, owners of land and property owe certain duties to those who enter their land and property. Those duties vary according to the relationship between the owner and the person entering the land. The mere fact that one is injured on someone else's property does not necessarily make that owner liable to the injured person.
If an individual is on someone's land for a business purpose, that person is referred to as an invitee. An owner's duty to an invitee is to exercise ordinary care to make their premises and approaches safe, and free of hazardous or defective conditions.
There are several elements to a slip and fall claim. First, there is a duty owed by the owner. Georgia courts have for many years followed the "superior knowledge" rule in assessing an owner or occupier's liability. Generally, if an owner or occupier has superior knowledge of a dangerous or defective condition, that is, superior to the person entering the land, that owner is liable for any injuries that result from such conditions.
The second element to a slip and fall claim is that the property owner breached that duty. There are different theories used to demonstrate a breach of the duty owed, such as the distraction theory (the defendant distracted the plaintiff in slip and fall cases), or by showing there was a violation of a building code, which amounts to negligence per se, or as a matter of law.
The final element in slip and fall cases is causation. A plaintiff must prove that the breach of the duty owed by the property owner caused his or her injuries.
Premises liability cases, especially slip and fall cases, are very difficult to win. Georgia courts are generally conservative, and the laws in the slip and fall field are especially confusing. Since property owners and insurance companies know this and have vast experience in evaluating slip and fall claims, they often will pay zero or the lowest compensation possible.
It is important to have an attorney on your side with considerable experience dealing with these property owners and insurance companies. It is always best to have an attorney who will not settle your case for anything less than its full value. If the property owners or insurance company is not being reasonable in their valuation of your case, you need an attorney who will fight for you, who will file a lawsuit, take your case to trial and prove why you deserve to be compensated. Our law firm will do that for you.