Premises liability refers to accidents where someone is injured (or killed) while on someone else’s property and the property owner (or someone occupying the land) is negligent in the accident. As the injury victim, you can file an insurance claim and, in some situations, you may need to sue for the damages you have suffered. In a Georgia premises liability claim, you can sue a property owner, homeowner, landlord, business, retailer, or government entity.
The person or party you can sue in a Georgia premises liability claim depends on who owns or occupies the property:
- Under Georgia Code § 51-3-1, any owner or occupier of land who legally “invites, induces or leads” other people onto their premises must “exercise ordinary care” in making sure their premises are safe.
- If they fail to keep their premises safe and someone is injured as a result, the owner or occupier is liable for the damages.
- If you were hurt on someone else’s property, you can file a premises liability claim with their insurance company. If a settlement cannot be reached, you might sue them for your damages.
Elements of a Premises Liability Claim or Lawsuit
There are many ways a property can quickly become unsafe for those on it. Property owners and businesses must be constantly vigilant in watching for potential hazards or unsafe conditions, cleaning up/fixing those hazards, and warning customers or visitors of potentially unsafe areas.
You likely have a valid premises liability case if:
- The owner or occupier had a duty of care and was negligent in exercising that care.
- The owner or occupier breached their duty and you were injured as a result.
- Your injury resulted from the owner or occupier’s breach of duty.
You can file an injury claim with the negligent party’s insurance company. Your claim will need to prove the above bullet points and demonstrate your damages. The insurance company will usually send a counteroffer to your claim amount, and your lawyer will negotiate with the insurer for a fair settlement.
Most of the time, a settlement is reached during this phase and there is no need to sue anyone. However, there are situations where an agreement cannot be made. You and your lawyer might then decide to bring a lawsuit against the negligent person or party.
Let’s look further in-depth at each individual or entity that you can sue for premises liability.
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Suing Property Owners or Homeowners in a Premises Liability Claim
If an injury accident happens on someone’s private property, it can feel awkward filing a premises liability claim against them. However, you will probably just need to file a claim with their insurance company and not need to sue them the owner.
Most homeowners are happy that their insurance is able to cover damages from an accident on their property, especially if the victim is a friend or loved one.
Examples of accidents that may happen on someone’s property include:
- Slip and fall accidents from slippery floors
- Uneven stairs or walkways
- Dog bites from the homeowner’s pet
You might be tempted to blame yourself or let the incident go if you are on good terms with the property owner. We would urge you to still speak with a Georgia premises liability lawyer, however, as you’ll otherwise be left paying for your medical costs and other losses. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the situation in a way that shows respect for both parties.
Suing a Business for Your Premises Accident
If you were hurt while visiting a business, such as a retailer or a grocery store, you might have a harder time seeking compensation than if the accident happened on a homeowner’s property. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t contact a lawyer to pursue the financial recovery you deserve, though.
Businesses, especially large chains, will often have their own legal team ready to handle premises liability claims. You will want to get your own premises liability lawyer as soon as possible if you were injured because of a store’s negligence.
Store employees and managers will need to constantly ensure their premises are safe for those who visit and shop at their location. Slip and fall accidents cause some of the most common injuries at businesses in Georgia. Just a few examples of accidents that may happen because of employee negligence include:
- Slip and falls on spilled liquid products
- Tripping and falling on broken stairs or uneven flooring
- Poor maintenance or disrepair of equipment
- Poorly-lit walkways
- Falling merchandise
- Elevator or escalator accidents
- Criminal activity due to inadequate security
Since stores often have insurance companies and legal teams prepared to fight premises liability claims, a lawsuit is sometimes the best way to seek compensation that is actually fair to you. However, this is not something you’ll want to consider doing alone. Contact an experienced premises liability lawyer who can advise you on the best course of action.
Suing a Government Entity for Premises Liability
It is possible to bring a case against a government entity in Georgia if you are injured because of an unsafe condition on government property. It’s more complicated than suing a property owner or business, though.
Suing a government has its limits because of sovereign immunity, a legal concept that prevents a government entity from being sued without its consent. While it used to be nearly impossible to sue a government entity at all, Georgia laws have been passed that waive sovereign immunity in some cases.
Under Georgia Code § 50-21-23, the state of Georgia waived its sovereign immunity for injury cases where state officers or employees were “acting within the scope of their official duties or employment.” There are also certain exceptions to this, which are outlined in section 50-21-24 of the Georgia Code. The most an individual can recover from a lawsuit against the government is also $1 million.
Talk to a Georgia Premises Liability Lawyer for Free Today
If you were injured on someone else’s property and they were negligent in your accident, you likely have a valid case. Contact John Foy & Associates today to discuss the details and go over your options. There is no risk to contact or work with us, as we don’t take a fee unless we win you money.
Call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online to a FREE consultation and case evaluation today.