If you become hurt on someone else’s property in Georgia, the property owner may be liable for damages. If you are facing significant costs for the treatment of your injuries and missed work time, you probably wonder if you can sue that person if you are hurt on their private property.
The answer is, it depends on the details regarding how your injury happened. Property owners do have a legal duty to maintain safe premises, but visitors also have a duty to be mindful of dangerous conditions. It’s good to understand your options, especially if you have costs from an accident that you did not cause.
John Foy & Associates has been helping injury victims in premises liability accidents win the compensation they need for over 20 years. We can look at the details of your case and discuss your options with you—FREE of charge. We do not take a fee unless we win you money, and the consultation is FREE. To get started with your free consultation, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online today.
Georgia’s Premises Liability Laws for Injuries on Private Property
Per Georgia Code § 51-3-1, any owner or occupier of land who “induces or leads others to come upon his premises” for legal reasons must “exercise ordinary care” in making sure their premises are safe. If they fail in this duty of care, the owner or occupier is liable for damages to the injured person.
An “occupier” can refer to someone who leases a property for private use, such as a business. So, either property owners themselves or businesses that occupy an area of land can be liable for injuries that were caused by their negligence.
If you hurt yourself on someone’s private property, you may have a case against them if you can provide that:
- They held a duty of care (which is true if they own or occupy land as outlined above).
- That duty of care was breached.
- You were injured as a result of that breach of care.
- You suffered damages because of your injuries and the breach of care.
The above are difficult to prove on your own, which is why it’s a good idea to contact a premises liability lawyer early on in the process. A lawyer can help you build a strong case against the property owner to seek damages and, if it comes to it, bring a lawsuit against them.
Private Vs. Public Property in Georgia Premises Liability
You’ll also need to understand the difference between private and public property when it comes to premises liability in Georgia:
- Private properties are buildings or land owned (or occupied) by either individuals or corporations.
- Public properties are buildings or land owned or managed for public purposes by local, state, or federal authorities.
When you’re hurt on someone’s private property, the owner or occupier of that property holds the duty of care. You have two years from the date of your injury accident to bring a lawsuit against the private property owner (Georgia Code § 9-3-33). This is the type of case we’re focusing on in this article.
Injuries on public property are more complicated, as seeking damages would require bringing a case against a government body. You typically have one year from the date of your injury to provide written notice of your case and two years total to bring your case. However, it’s best to contact a local premises liability lawyer to be sure.
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Suing After Hurting Yourself on Private Property in Georgia
So, can you just sue someone if you hurt yourself on their private property? You can, but you might not have to.
Thankfully, most premises liability cases are resolved long before the need to sue the property owner or occupier. You will first want to seek damages by filing a personal injury claim with the owner’s insurance company. This claim will need to include:
- Proof of the owner’s negligence (breached duty of care)
- Evidence that your injuries resulted from the owner’s negligence
- Proof of all damages that resulted from the accident
You and your premises liability lawyer will need to calculate the total of your damages from the accident, including your medical costs (current and future), lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other losses you face. It’s vital that you have a great idea of your total damages before filing your claim. Otherwise, you could be left with additional costs and not have a way to seek compensation for them.
After you’ve filed your claim, the owner’s insurance company will need to respond either accepting your claim (and paying what you’ve requested in damages), sending a counteroffer, or denying your claim. Insurance companies do not like to pay out much on insurance claims, so chances are good they’ll send you a lowball offer or maybe even deny your claim.
Your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company to seek a settlement amount that is fair to you. If they are successful, you’ll receive a settlement for your accident damages.
When Suing the Property Owner Makes Sense
Most premises liability cases are resolved during the negotiation phase. However, there are situations where you may need to sue for the damages you deserve.
If the insurance company is refusing to budge on what they’ll offer you, your lawyer might recommend bringing a lawsuit. Additionally, if your accident was very serious, involves a lot of damages, and your lawyer has determined you have a good chance of winning in court, you might want to sue. Thankfully, cases often get resolved in the stages before a lawsuit actually goes to trial, which saves you a lot of time and money.
Deciding to bring a lawsuit is no light decision. You’ll want to discuss your options with an attorney who is very experienced in the field of Georgia premises liability before making any clear decisions.
Talk to a Georgia Premises Liability Lawyer for Free Today
At John Foy & Associates, we have been helping victims of premises liability accidents win the money they need for over two decades. We know what it takes to win cases, and—if it’s the best decision for your case—we are not afraid to fight for your rights all the way to court.
To discuss the details of your case and whether or not suing is the best option for you, contact us today for a FREE consultation. Call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online now.