Covington property owners owe certain duties to people on their property. If you’re at a restaurant, bar, grocery store, or someone else’s house, premises liability law may protect you if you suffer injury.
A Covington premises liability attorney on our team can help you pick up the pieces after an injury and help you navigate the complex world of filing a claim. We understand that your priority is getting your life back on track. When you hire us, we make it our priority to effectively, efficiently, and compassionately help you move forward.
Premises Liability and the Theory of Negligence
Premises liability is a type of personal injury claim based on negligence. Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common types of premises liability claims.
Under the theory of negligence, you must prove four basic elements:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care,
- The at-fault party failed to meet their duty of care,
- You suffered an injury or damage, and
- The at-fault party’s failure to meet their duty of care caused your injury.
To have a successful claim, you must prove that all four elements are in place.
Our Covington premises liability attorneys have decades of combined experience fighting for Georgia’s personal injury victims. We understand that the accident wasn’t your fault, and you shouldn’t bear the burden of the physical, emotional, and financial costs because of it.
Duty of Care
To have a successful case, you first need to show that the property owner owed you a duty of care under the circumstances.
Typically, this means that the property owner was under an obligation to act as a reasonably prudent and ordinary person would in similar circumstances. For property owners, the duty they owe someone depends on the circumstances and the victim’s reason for being on the property. If you were trespassing, for example, the property owner might not have owed you a duty of care.
But let’s say you were shopping at a supermarket during regular business hours. You’re walking through the aisles, and suddenly, you slip on a puddle of olive oil and suffer a broken arm and a head injury. The employees didn’t put up a “Wet Floor” sign, and no employee was present to warn customers of the danger. Because you were lawfully present on the premises at the time of the accident, you may have a claim against the supermarket for not putting up a sign or warning customers about the spill.
Breach of Duty of Care
Once you prove that the property owner owed you a duty of care, you need to show that they breached or failed to meet their duty of care.
Property owners may breach their duty of care if they:
- Fail to maintain the property in good repair,
- Fail to inspect the property,
- Fail to warn visitors about potential hazards, or
- Fail to address hazards they knew about or should have known about.
Here are some examples of potential breaches of duties:
- Not warning guests about an aggressive or over-protective dog,
- Not putting up a “Wet Floor” or other hazard sign,
- Failing to repair seriously damaged sidewalks or parking lots,
- Not keeping electrical equipment up to code, and
- Not installing proper safety measures on equipment used by customers.
Let’s say that you’re visiting a local museum. You’re walking through the building and trip on equipment left out in one of the walkways. You fall and break your arm. The employees didn’t put up a warning sign or provide any other type of warning about the equipment.
You may have to show that you were lawfully on the property and that the employees shouldn’t have left the equipment out where someone could trip over it.
Next, you need to show that you suffered an injury or damage from the accident. You might accomplish this by showing that you suffered physical, financial, or emotional harm from the incident.
For example, you might submit medical records that show that you broke your arm and injured an internal organ, requiring surgery.
Lastly, you must prove a causal relationship between the property owner’s breach of duty of care and your subsequent injury. The injuries you suffer might be direct consequences of the accident, such as a broken arm or head injury. Or they might be indirect results, like pain and suffering or lost wages. In either case, you must link the injury to the breach.
That’s why it’s important to seek medical attention immediately after an injury and contact a Covington premises liability lawyer as soon as possible. Having accurate records about the incident can help establish the link between a property owner’s breach and your injury. Additionally, communicating with a lawyer as soon as possible means you have someone fighting for your best interests from the start.
Insurance companies and at-fault parties may try to take advantage of your situation and get you to make unintentional admissions of fault. Talking to an attorney is beneficial even if you think you have already admitted fault.
Our attorneys are standing by to help Covington’s premises liability victims and their families.
How Do I Know If the Property Owner Owed Me a Duty of Care?
The type of duty a property owner owes a person is based on the reason that person was on the property. Georgia law classifies potential victims into three groups:
Property owners owe each of these groups different types of obligations. Let’s go over those now.
Duty Owed to Invitees
An invitee is someone the landowner invites or induces to enter the property. You are an invitee when you go to a restaurant, a bar, or other business. The business doesn’t need to be for-profit, and the invitation for you to be on the property can be express or implied.
Landowners might be liable for an invitee’s injury if the landowner failed to “exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises” and the area around the premises (e.g., sidewalks) safe.
Duty Owed to Licensees
A licensee is someone who isn’t an invitee or a trespasser but comes onto the premises for their own interests. Licensees might include salespersons or people who can use someone’s property while the owner is away.
Landowners are liable to licensees only for willfully or wantonly causing injuries. Intentionally harming someone or creating property conditions that are intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly dangerous might fall under this category.
Duty Owed to Trespassers
Trespassers have the least protection out of all three groups. These are people who are on someone else’s property without permission.
In most cases, landowners aren’t liable for injuries suffered by trespassers. However, there are two exceptions to this general rule:
- Property owners can’t set up dangerous obstacles or traps (like a trip-wire-activated spring gun) on their property; and
- Landowners owe a limited duty to trespassers who are under the age of 18.
Landowners with swimming pools, swing sets, or other “attractive nuisances” on their property might owe a duty to child trespassers. The idea is that children are too young to keep themselves from trespassing onto someone else’s property because of the attractive nuisance.
Compensation Available for Premises Liability Victims
Premises liability victims may be eligible to receive the following types of damages:
A Covington premises liability attorney can help maximize the compensation you receive for your injuries. We aren’t afraid to go up against the faceless insurance companies and fight for every penny you’re owed.
Special damages are damages actually caused by your injury. They include economic damages such as:
- Lost wages,
- Medical bills,
- Prescription costs, and
- Transportation to and from medical appointments.
To recover compensation for special damages, you must prove you incurred these costs. Because of this, it’s essential to keep accurate records of how much you spend on doctor visits, buying medications, and other medical expenses.
Unlike special damages, general damages are intangible damages you suffered as a result of the defendant’s actions. General damages include things like:
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of consortium,
- Loss of society, and
- Loss of enjoyment in or quality of life.
Having a skilled attorney is essential to help ensure that you get fair compensation for these “invisible” yet very real damages. Frequently, insurance companies try to downplay a victim’s injuries. The best defense against these tactics is to have a confident and competent lawyer on your side.
Punitive damages are rarely awarded. Unlike special or general damages, the purposes of punitive damages are to punish the at-fault party and deter similar actions moving forward. Courts typically award punitive damages only if the at-fault party acted fraudulently, willfully, or wantonly. If the at-fault party acted with malice or oppression, you might also be eligible to receive punitive damages.
How to Know If You Have a Case for Premises Liability
The best way to find out if you have a case for premises liability against someone else is to talk to a skilled attorney. If you were on someone else’s property and were injured, you may have a premises liability claim against them.
MG Law—Covington Premises Liability Lawyers You Can Count On
For decades, we have fought for Covington residents. Michael Geoffroy, the founder of MG Law, has received multiple awards for his professionalism and ethics, including being named a “Best Lawyer” in Best Lawyers in America 2020. Our team understands your pain and stands ready to fight for justice on your behalf. Call us today or contact us online.