No one enters a property expecting to become injured that day—but it happens. Property owners have a duty to keep their premises safe, and if they don’t, they are usually liable for damages. If you are hurt on someone’s property, you have legal rights, and a Georgia premises liability lawyer can help you uphold those rights.
For over 20 years, our lawyers at John Foy & Associates have been helping Georgia injury victims win the money they need after an accident. We know the toll an unexpected injury can take on an individual and their family. We are committed to seeking full financial recovery for your damages so you can pay your bills and move on from the accident.
Contact us today for a FREE consultation and evaluation of your premises liability case. We’ll discuss the details of what happened and how we can help. Plus, it’s risk-free to work with us because we don’t take a fee unless we actually win you money. Call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online today to get started with your FREE consultation.
What Premises Liability Means
Premises liability typically refers to personal injury cases where an obstacle or unsafe condition causes injury on someone’s property. Premises liability laws can vary slightly from state to state.
- Anyone who owns or occupies land and invites others onto their premises (such as into a store) must “exercise ordinary care” in making sure their premises are safe (Georgia Code § 51-3-1).
- If the owner or occupier does not exercise care with their premises and someone is hurt on their property as a result, they are liable for damages to the injured party.
- This duty of care may include warning patrons of a dangerous condition, fixing the condition, and regularly checking and inspecting to prevent unsafe conditions.
We find that many times when someone is injured on another’s property, the victim is quick to blame him or herself. It’s human nature to not want to inconvenience the property owner or assume you were “just being clumsy.” However, people don’t fall or get injured for no reason. There’s a good chance the property owner or manager of the business was being negligent in relation to your accident.
The best way to know for sure what caused your accident is by contacting a Georgia premises liability lawyer. They will know what to look for in your case and how to determine who was at fault. You typically have two years from the date of your injury to file your claim (Georgia Code § 9-3-33), and that goes quickly. It’s best to take action today.
Premises liability cases involve an injury on someone else’s property. To have a case, the property owner must have been negligent in the accident. Premises liability cases come down to who was at fault for the injury accident.
The person who was injured must be able to prove the property owner or occupier was negligent and liable for their damages. They must also demonstrate those damages and file their premises liability claim with the owner’s insurance company.
Proving the Property Owner’s Negligence
Georgia law dictates property owners must exercise ordinary care in making sure their premises are safe for those who are invited onto their property. If they fail to uphold this duty of care and it results in an injury, the property owner may be liable for the injured person’s damages.
You can’t automatically claim damages just because you were injured on someone else’s property. In your premises liability case, you must be able to show that the property owner or occupier was negligent in your accident. That includes proving that:
- There was a duty of care.
- That duty of care was breached.
- Your injuries resulted from the breach of duty.
- Your damages were caused by the property owner’s breach of duty.
This can easily become confusing and complicated, so it’s best to hire a Georgia premises liability lawyer who can help you with your claim. They will know what evidence you need to prove your case and how to deal with the insurance company.
Invitee, Licensee, and Trespassers
The role you play in a premises liability case matters too. If the property owner owes you the duty of care mentioned above, you fall under the category of “invitee.” An invitee has been lawfully invited (through express or implied permission) onto the property.
Invitees can be:
- Restaurant, grocery store, gas station, or other store customers
- Patients at a hospital, nursing home, or another medical establishment
- Ticket holders at a sporting event or concert
- Condo or apartment tenants
- Students at a school or university
- A property owner’s friends, relatives, or neighbors
“Licensees” are those who have permission to be on the property, but who are there for their own purposes, such as a salesman. Property owners do not owe licensees the same duty of care as they do invitees.
Lastly, “trespassers” are those who do not have permission to be on the owner’s property. In most cases, no duty of care is owed to trespassers.
Comparative Negligence in Premises Liability
If you are partially responsible for your injury accident on someone else’s property, you may still be able to recover damages through Georgia’s comparative negligence laws.
Through comparative negligence, you can still seek compensation for an accident if you are less than 50% at fault. Your total damages would simply be reduced by the percentage of fault you hold in the accident.
For example, if your damages total $100,000 but you are 10% responsible for your premises accident, you would still be eligible to recover $90,000 from the property owner, but the remaining 10% (which is $10,000) would be your responsibility.
Premises liability claims come about when someone is hurt or killed on another person or entity’s property. The property owner or occupier must have been negligent in the injury accident for the victim to have a valid case. When it comes to premises liability, the victim may be able to sue a property owner, homeowner, business, landlord, or government entity.
What You Need for a Premises Liability Claim or Lawsuit
Property owners and businesses must be careful to maintain safe premises for those who are invited onto their property. This could be friends or family members, customers, or visitors. If they are not careful to watch for potential hazards or dangerous conditions, they can be legally liable if injury results.
The three main elements of a premises liability claim are:
- A duty of care the owner or occupier owed to the injured party
- A breach of that duty and the resulting injury
- Injuries and damages resulting from the breach of duty
To seek compensation, you can file a premises liability claim with the property owner’s insurance company. The claim will need to prove the owner’s liability and negligence in your accident. It will also need to outline your damages.
After submitting your claim, the insurance company will usually send a counteroffer that is a lowball. Your lawyer will negotiate for a fair settlement. If that isn’t possible, you might consider suing the property owner or occupier.
Suing Property Owners or Homeowners
You can file a claim against or sue a homeowner or property owner if their negligence leads to your injury accident. You might be hesitant to do this if you know the owner personally, but you should not forgo your chance at compensation for your costs. Plus, most property owners are happy that an insurance company exists to cover your costs.
You can usually reach a settlement before the need to bring a lawsuit, but sometimes suing is indeed the best choice. You’ll need to way the pros and cons with an experienced Georgia premises liability lawyer before making any definite decisions.
Suing a Business
Slip and fall accidents, or other types of premises liability accidents, can happen at any time in a business setting. Store employees and managers should be trained to constantly watch for potential hazards and fix them within a reasonable amount of time. If they fail to do this, they may be negligent in your accident.
Examples of hazards that may lead to accidents in a store include:
- Spilled liquid products
- Broken stairs or uneven flooring
- Poor maintenance or disrepair
- Loose or fallen merchandise
- Poorly-lit walkways
- Elevator or escalator accidents
- Criminal activity (which may have been prevented with inadequate security)
Many stores, especially large chains, will have their own legal team available to handle premises liability claims, so you’ll want the help of an experienced lawyer before filing a claim.
Suing a Government Entity
Governments have sovereign immunity in many legal settings, but there are exceptions when state officers or employees are acting within their scope of duties or employment. If you are considering bringing a claim against the government for premises liability, contact a Georgia premises liability lawyer right away.
Any dangerous condition that the property owner failed to fix or warn you about within a reasonable amount of time and that led to your injuries can qualify. Here are some examples of dangerous situations that can lead to premises liability cases.
Slip and Fall Accident Dangers
Slip and fall accidents are some of the most common accidents that happen on Georgia properties. They can be caused by dangerous conditions like:
- Cracked or uneven flooring or walkways
- Wet or slippery floors
- Spilled food or drink items
- Broken staircases
- Bunched up carpeting or rugs
- Items left out in aisles
Dangerous conditions can easily arise when a property is not well-maintained. Examples can include:
- Cracked flooring or sidewalks
- Broken windows or doors
- Broken fixtures
- Unmarked steps
- Broken locks
- Elevators or escalators in need of repair
- Unruly vegetation
Poor maintenance can increase the risk of many types of dangerous conditions and premises liability accidents. Property owners should be diligent in keeping up with repairs and other maintenance.
If restaurant owners are not careful, the following types of dangerous conditions can be present:
- Spilled food or drink items
- Insufficient security
- Poorly lit parking lots or alleys
- Uneven flooring or pavement
Restaurant managers and employees should make sure potential hazards are cleaned up quickly and efficiently.
Retail Store Dangerous Conditions
Slip and fall accidents are common in a retail setting where there are potentially dangerous conditions like:
- Fallen clothes in the aisles
- Spilled foods and beverages
- Items that can fall from shelves onto customers or into the aisles
- Uneven flooring or rugs
- Poor lighting
Property owners should make sure they are testing for and fixing any environmental hazards that could be dangerous to visitors’ health. Those may include:
- Carbon monoxide
- Lead-based paint
- And more
Poor Security Measures
Lack of adequate security can easily become a dangerous condition at a property in Georgia. If security is not tight enough, there may be an increased risk of assault and other criminal activity. Property owners who are in high-crime areas or have had past instances of criminal activity should be especially careful to provide sufficient security.
Dogs and Animals
Animals who are not properly maintained can pose a danger to those on the property. That includes dogs, other pets, and wild animals the property owner may allow onto their premises.
How to Prove Premises Liability
To have a valid premises liability claim after an accident on someone else’s property, you’ll need to prove that:
- The property owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition within a reasonable amount of time
- Failed to clean up the dangerous condition within a reasonable amount of time
- Or, if they couldn’t clean up or fix the condition, did not warn visitors about the dangerous condition
You will also need to consider whether or not there was any way for you to have reasonably avoided the dangerous conditions to prevent your injuries. Chances are, the property owner was negligent and you have a right to recovery of your damages.
A hazardous condition in a Georgia premises liability case includes anything that risks the well-being of invitees onto someone else’s property. If a property owner did not exercise care in keeping their premises safe and preventing hazardous conditions, they may be liable for the damages.
Hazardous Conditions on Georgia Properties
There are so many different ways a situation can become hazardous or dangerous on Georgia property. Here are some examples of hazards that can lead to premises liability cases in Georgia:
- Falling objects
- Wet or slippery floors
- Curled up carpeting or rugs
- Uneven or broken stairs
- Missing or broken rails
- Spilled food or beverages
- Vicious dogs or other animals
If you were hurt on someone else’s property and are not sure if your accident involved a hazardous condition, contact a Georgia premises liability lawyer. They can examine the details and determine if you have a case.
Don’t assume your case isn’t valid until after you’ve spoken with a lawyer. We find many accident victims are quick to blame themselves even though, when we investigate the case further, we find that the property owner was truly liable.
Proving Liability for a Hazardous Conditions
If you were hurt because of a hazardous condition on someone’s property or at a business, you will need to show that the owner was negligent to have a case. In Georgia, the negligent party in any injury accident is liable for damages.
A property owner or occupier can be found negligent if they:
- Had knowledge of a hazardous condition
- Did not know about the condition but should have reasonably known
- Failed to clean up, remedy, or warn you about the hazardous condition (such as putting out a “wet floor” sign while mopping) within a reasonable amount of time
A lot of premises liability accidents happen when store employees are not careful to watch for and prevent hazardous conditions. Stores and property owners should have systems in place that ensure their property is safe for visitors and customers.
In your premises liability claim against the property owner, you’ll need to demonstrate how they were liable in your injuries (and therefore responsible for your damages). You’ll need to show that:
- The property owner or business had a duty of care to keep their premises safe for you.
- They failed to uphold that duty of care.
- Your injuries directly resulted from the breached duty of care.
- Your damages result from the injuries from the accident.
What to Do After an Injury from a Hazardous Condition
You’ll want to begin compiling evidence of the property owner’s negligence and your damages as soon as possible. You can do this by:
- Taking pictures of the accident scene to document what happened
- Reporting the accident to the property owner or store manager
- Talking to witnesses and getting their contact information
- Keeping any evidence of the accident at the scene, such as the clothes and shoes you were wearing
- Seeing a doctor as soon as possible to get your injuries evaluated
- Talking to an experienced Georgia premises liability lawyer about your case
Under Georgia law, a property owner must have known about a hazard within a “reasonable” amount of time. This doesn’t refer to a specific timeframe, so it can depend on the details of the situation and the nature of the hazard. It really comes down to whether or not the property owner was negligent in your injury accident on their property.
To have a premises liability case, you’ll need to show that the property owner did not keep their premises safe by exercising ordinary care. The duty of care includes making regular efforts to prevent hazards on the property. You’ll need to consider:
- If the hazard existed long enough for the property owner or business to have known about it
- Whether or not there was a valid reason for the hazard to be there
- What ways the hazard may have been removed or moved out of the way of customers or visitors
- If you should have been warned about the hazard
- If the hazard was accompanied by other signs of negligence, such as bad lighting
- Whether or not the property owner or business has a regular system for preventing, identifying, and cleaning up hazards
You and your premises liability lawyer will need to examine all of these factors and ask many questions about what occurred and how the owner or occupier was negligent. That includes identifying exactly how long the hazard was present before you were injured by it. If you can demonstrate that the hazard was there long enough for the owner to have reasonably known about it and fixed it, they are likely to be found liable.
Your Own Personal Responsibility
Keep in mind that there is an element of personal responsibility from the victim in a premises liability case, too. You will need to have exercised reasonable care in avoiding potential hazards. The property owner may try to say you were being too careless and would have otherwise not been injured by the hazard.
Your lawyer can help show that you were being careful but still were hurt by the hazard because of the owner’s negligence. Don’t let the property owner or their insurance company intimidate you or make you think the whole thing was your fault. Contact a lawyer who can help you examine the facts.
Comparative Negligence in Georgia
If it is determined that you hold some percentage of responsibility for your accident, you can still seek damages if you were less than 50% at fault. This falls under Georgia’s modified comparative negligence laws.
If you hold a portion of the fault, your compensation would be reduced based on your percentage of fault—but the property owner or business would still be liable for the rest.
It’s very important that you not apologize or admit any blame in the accident until after you’ve spoken to a lawyer. Insurance companies are skilled at making you think you’re at least partially at fault, such as claiming the hazard was not present long enough for the owner to be fully liable. A lawyer can protect you from getting taken advantage of.
The safety standards for Georgia property owners depend on the nature of their property and how active a role they play in that property. A lot of information on safety standards in Georgia refers to landlords who own or keep rental properties for tenants.
Landlords have a duty to keep their premises in “livable conditions” and keep them in repair. They are responsible for any damages caused by failure to keep the property in repair or the presence of defective construction.
Implied Warranty of Habitability in Georgia
Implied warranty of habitability is a legal doctrine in Georgia under which landlords must repair necessary systems and areas like:
- Water heaters or air conditioners
- Common indoor and outdoor areas
- Floors, stairs, walls, and other structural elements
- Electricity, plumbing, and other utilities
If the landlord does not uphold these safety standards, it can affect the conditions under which tenants continue paying rent.
Environmental hazards must also be tested for and prevented. Elements like radon and asbestos can easily impact the health of tenants and visitors, so property owners should be diligent in keeping the premises reasonably safe from all hazards.
Some safety standards for property owners and landlords are determined by local laws and housing codes. Rules the owner must follow can depend on the city, town, or county they live in. If you were injured on someone’s property and are not sure the full extent of their legal safety standards, contact a local premises liability lawyer who can research them for you.
Safety Standards on Georgia Properties
All landlords in Georgia must make sure they are:
- Using security systems to protect against criminal activity on their property
- Maintaining the property and repairing issues as they are reported
- Carrying the necessary liability insurance for their property
- Testing for environmental hazards and remedying unsafe levels
- Staying diligent in preventing potential hazards
If a property owner or landlord does not follow safety standards to prevent harm on their property, they may be found legally liable. If you were injured because of a property owner’s negligence, you may be able to file a premises liability case against them for compensation of your damages.
“In Possession” Versus “Out of Possession”
When it comes to landlord safety standards, their duties also depend on whether they are “in possession” or “out of possession.”
Being “out of possession” means the landlord does not have daily control of the property. These landlords are typically only liable for damages caused by defective construction or failure to maintain repairs. If defective construction was already on the property before the landlord purchased it (and they did not know about the issues), they might be able to avoid liability.
“In possession” landlords still maintain control of the property. They are usually liable for any injuries that happen if they were not exercising ordinary care to keep their premises safe. They should be diligent regularly check for potential dangers and remedy those dangers within a reasonable amount of time. If they don’t uphold these safety standards and someone is injured, they will likely be responsible for the costs.
If you are hurt on someone’s private property in Georgia, you can sue them—but you might not need to. You probably have options before the need to file a lawsuit that is easier, faster, and less costly. It really depends on the details of your accident and your case.
Georgia’s Premises Liability Laws on Private Property
In Georgia, any owner or occupier of land has a legal duty to exercise ordinary care and ensure their premises are safe for those who legally come onto their property. If the owner or occupier breaches that duty and it results in an injury on their property, they may be legally liable for the damages.
To have a successful premises liability care, you will need to show that:
- The owner or occupier had a duty of care to you as a visitor or customer.
- They breached their duty of care.
- You were hurt because of that breach of care.
- Your damages resulted from your injuries from the breach of care.
You will need to work with an experienced premises liability lawyer to prove the above points. They can help you build a strong case with the right evidence.
Private Vs. Public Property
In the scenario we’re talking about here, private property means land or a building that an individual or corporation owns. This is different from public property, which is owned by government authority and meant for public purposes.
When someone owns private property, they have the duty of care as mentioned above. That also means you have the right to sue them for damages. However, you likely won’t have to do so.
Suing for an Injury on Private Property in Georgia
While you can sue someone if you hurt yourself on their private property, you might not have to. Most injury cases involving premises liability are resolved long before you have the need to sue. They typically begin with a personal injury claim with the property owner’s insurance company.
In the insurance claim, you’ll need to prove the property owner was negligent in your accident and therefore responsible for your damages. You’ll also need to outline your total damages. This usually requires the assistance of a premises liability lawyer who knows how to account for all the current and future losses you may face.
Once you’ve filed your claim, the insurance company will respond. You and your lawyer will probably need to negotiate with the insurer for a fair settlement, as most insurance companies will respond with a lowball offer. If all goes well, you’ll agree on a settlement amount that makes sense and covers all your damages.
When Suing Makes Sense
Although most premises liability cases are able to be negotiated, it’s not always the case. Sometimes, you may need to sue the property owner or occupier for your damages.
If the insurance company will not negotiate or come near a settlement that is fair to you, you and your lawyer may discuss the possibility of bringing a lawsuit. Thankfully, a lot of cases will still settle before the actual trial. However, there is a chance that you’ll go all the way to court, and you’ll need to be prepared for the time and cost involved in that.
It is certainly possible for the city to be liable for your injury on public property. If you are injured on property owned by the government, you may be able to bring a case. However, the details are a little different than if you were filing a claim against a private property owner or business.
Public Property Liability in Georgia
Depending on where you are hurt, a city, county, or state government could be liable for your accident. Since these cases are more complex than a typical premises liability claim, it’s best to contact a Georgia premises liability lawyer for help with your case.
Examples of hazards that can lead to injury accidents on a public property include:
- Uneven or cracked public sidewalks or roadways
- Public playground dangers
- Curled on carpeting in public buildings
- Poorly-maintained roads
- Public transportation maintenance errors
- Fallen power lines
- Broken or missing handrails
- Poor security measures in public places, such as schools
Accidents on public property are not covered automatically, however. You’ll want to discuss with your lawyer whether or not you have a valid case against the city.
Demonstrating a City Is Liable
There are four main parts of a premises liability case you must show:
- The owner of the property had a duty of care to keep their premises safe.
- That duty was breached.
- As a result of the breached duty, you were injured.
- Your injuries from your premises liability accident resulted in damages.
It’s much harder to demonstrate these points against a government entity versus a private property owner. There are several factors you’ll need to keep in mind.
Governments used to be protected from any lawsuits due to sovereign immunity. Under sovereign immunity, governments were protected from suing sued without their consent. However, this changed slightly when Georgia waived its immunity in specific cases through the Georgia Tort Claims Act of 1992.
In certain circumstances, you can now bring a case against the government. There are certain criteria for doing so:
- The negligence that led to the injury must have occurred within the scope of a government official’s or employee’s duties or employment.
- You must give the government a “notice of claim” stating that you plan to file a claim against them.
- The total damages you can recover are capped at $1 million, and punitive damages are not available.
- You cannot bring a case against a specific employee.
- To file a case against a city, you must provide the notice of claim within six months. (For a case against the state of Georgia, the deadline is one year.)
Sovereign immunity is also waived for Georgia cities if city employees fail to perform their ministerial duties or someone is injured from the city’s negligence in keeping public areas safe.
Damages from City Premises Liability
The damages you can claim from a premises liability case against a city include:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Future medical care resulting from your accident injuries
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
You will want to contact a Georgia premises liability lawyer right away to avoid missing your chance at compensation for your injuries.
Assault can be covered under premises liability law. Property owners and businesses have a legal duty to make sure their premises are safe for those who come onto them. If they fail in that duty and someone gets injured by an assault, the owner or business may be responsible for the accident damages.
Georgia Premises Liability and Assault
Just as dangerous conditions or hazards can be present on a property, criminal activity can happen. Property owners and businesses must make sure they are acting in a way that protects those who are invited or lead onto their premises.
If the owner or occupier could have prevented an assault through better security practices, it may be a form of negligence. This would make them responsible for the costs of the accident. However, just because an assault happens doesn’t mean the owner is automatically liable.
For the victim to have a premises liability case for assault, the following elements must be present:
- The owner had a duty to keep the premises safe.
- The owner breached that duty.
- The victim’s injuries were the result of the breached duty.
- The victim’s damages directly result from their accident injuries.
After an assault on another person’s property, it’s best to work with a premises liability lawyer. They can investigate and determine if the property owner or business is liable for your attack. Your lawyer can also help you build a strong case to show your damages and the full compensation you deserve.
How the Property Owner Could Be Negligent in Your Assault
Part of property owners’ duty to exercise ordinary care includes making sure possible criminal activity is prevented. So, if the owner fails to provide adequate security on their premises, it’s a form of negligence. Examples of this could include:
- Failing to use a security system, such as security cameras or alarm systems
- Improperly hiring or training security guards
- Not having enough security personnel
- Improper lighting or foliage blocking security cameras
- Not maintaining doors, fences, gates, or windows that would deter criminals
You will need to demonstrate how the property owner was negligent in your assault and damages. Unfortunately, the owner or business may try to reduce their liability by saying the assault had nothing to do with their (lack of security). However, you know better—and so will your Georgia premises liability lawyer.
Foreseeable Criminal Activity
To have a valid premises liability case for assault, the property owner or occupier will also need to have foreseen the possibility of the criminal activity that injured you. Reasons that an assault might be foreseeable include:
- Having knowledge of previous (and similar) crimes taking place in the same area or building
- Having property that in a high-crime area where they should know to use better security systems
- Having knowledge of a situation that could easily lead to assault
For example, if a property owner knows a situation is escalating between two customers that could end in a fight, they should take the correct measures to prevent that activity.
Yes, premises liability can cover animal attacks in some Georgia cases. That includes not only dog bites but also wild animal attacks. Let’s look at the state laws for both.
Dog Bite Laws in Georgia
Under Georgia Code § 51-2-7, owners of a dangerous or vicious animal are usually liable for injuries caused by the animal. They are responsible if the dog bites someone after the owner has allowed the dog to roam or been careless in managing them. The owner can also be liable if they should have had the dog on a leash or at their heel, but didn’t.
Wild Animal Attack Laws in Georgia
If a property owner in Georgia allows wild animals to come onto their property, it puts customers or visitors at risk of harm. They can be liable if they knew the wild animals were on the property, knew that there was a risk of attacks, and didn’t do anything to fix the problem or prevent attacks.
Examples of wild animals attacks in Georgia can include:
- Bear attacks
- Alligator attacks
- Venomous snake bites
- Livestock attacks
- Wasp or hornet stings
- Bird attacks
There isn’t a specific Georgia code covering animal attacks, as there is with dog bites. However, attacks from wild animals can be incredibly serious or even life-threatening. Owners who are negligent in a wild animal attack on their property should be held responsible. It’s easy for liability to fall into a gray area with these types of injuries, but a premises liability lawyer can help.
Damages from an Animal Attack in Georgia
If you were hurt by a wild animal on someone’s property and there were legally responsible, you can seek compensation for damages like:
- Medical bills, hospital stays, prescription medications, tests, and surgeries
- Lost wages from missed work time
- Future medical costs
- Pain and suffering damages like anxiety, fear, trauma, and disfigurement
You will need to keep track of evidence from these damages to include in your claim. Your premises liability lawyer can help you do this.
What to Do After an Animal Attack in Georgia
It’s very important that you start gathering evidence of your attack and your damages as soon as possible. You’ll need to show that the property owner was negligent in your attack and that their negligence lead to your damages. This is difficult, if not impossible, to do alone, which is why we highly recommend reaching out to a Georgia premises liability lawyer.
Here are some ways you can start compiling information to legally protect yourself after an animal attack:
- Identify and take a picture of the animal that attacked you
- Report the attack to local authorities, such as animal control
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses to the attack
- See a doctor as soon as possible (or call for an ambulance if your injuries are severe or life-threatening)
- Keep a folder with your medical bills, receipts, notes about the accident, pictures, and any other evidence of your damages
Your lawyer will then help you build a strong case using the information above and more.
After getting hurt on someone else’s property, you will want to protect your legal rights. The property owner may have been negligent in your accident, but the burden is on you to prove that. You’ll also need to prove your damages, so it’s important to document what happened.
Here are the top things you should do after injuring yourself on someone else’s property.
Get Medical Treatment
Get emergency medical attention if you have injuries that are serious or life-threatening. Otherwise, you can stay at the scene to gather information but see a doctor as soon as possible after you leave.
Seeing a doctor right after your accident will show the property owner’s insurance company that your injuries are serious. It will also help document what happened and give you an idea of what your medical expenses will look like.
Take Pictures of the Evidence
Use your phone to take pictures of the hazard that caused your accident, your injuries, and the entire accident scene. Picture evidence preserves the scene as it was right after the accident. If the property owner tries to clean it up or change something about the scene, you will still have documentation of how it looked at that moment.
Preserve Your Clothes and Shoes
Depending on the details of your accident, the shoes and clothing you were wearing at the time of your injuries may be important evidence. Keep them, and do not wash or change anything.
Report the Accident
Make sure the property owner knows about your accident right after it happened. If you were hurt at a business, ask an employee to take you to a manager.
Tell the owner or manager what happened, but avoid admitting any blame or apologizing. This could be used against you later. Talk to a lawyer before you discuss fault with anyone.
Track Your Expenses
If the owner was negligent in your accident, you have the right to file a premises liability claim with their insurance company. You can include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and other damages in your claim.
Be sure to save all proof of damages that you can. You’ll need that proof for your claim, and keeping track of everything will ensure you don’t forget about any losses you face during the course of your case.
Talk to a Premises Liability Lawyer
Do not agree to any settlement, give any recorded statements, or sign anything before speaking with a premises liability lawyer first. Insurance companies will try to get you to accept a lowball settlement, but it’s never enough to cover the full costs of your damages.
Contact an experienced lawyer as soon as you can to discuss your accident and your legal options. They will know how to build a strong claim and negotiate for a settlement that is actually fair to you. To get a FREE consultation and case evaluation from one of our premises liability lawyers at John Foy & Associates, call us today at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.
You don’t have to hire a lawyer for your premises liability case, but it’s highly recommended that you do. These cases can be very complicated, and it’s difficult to know everything that needs to be done without the help of a legal professional. Here are some of the main ways a premises liability lawyer can help you with your case.
Investigating Your Injury Accident
Once you hire your lawyer, they’ll start investigating the details of your accident and gathering evidence to use in your claim. That includes information like:
- Your medical records
- Any reports of your accident
- Pictures from the scene
- Witness statements
- Pay stubs
- Video surveillance footage
It’s best to begin gathering this information as soon as possible, and your lawyer will know which pieces are most relevant.
Determining the Property Owner’s Liability
To have a valid premises liability case, the property owner must have been negligent in your accident. You will need to demonstrate that negligence in your insurance claim, which is very hard to do (if not impossible) without an experienced lawyer.
Premises liability attorneys know the local laws regarding property owners and negligence. They will know how best to present the case and its evidence. If you are worried about being partially responsible for your accident, your lawyer can find out the truth.
Chances are, the property owner is fully liable—but if you are found to be partially negligent, you can still seek damages through Georgia’s comparative negligence laws.
Figuring Out Your Damages
Your claim will need to include all of the damages you face because of the accident. Those damages may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
Your lawyer will account for all current and future costs from your accident so you can seek full compensation.
Showing the Insurance Company You’re Serious
Insurance companies are notorious for taking advantage of accident victims and trying to lowball them with a tiny settlement. However, if you have an experienced and well-respected premises liability lawyer on your side, the insurance company is more likely to take you seriously. They’ll see you’re prepared to fight for your case and fair compensation for your damages.
Utilizing in Expert Witnesses
Experienced attorneys will have a list of experts they can call on for cases that require them. If expert testimony can help your case, your lawyer will know where to turn.
Premises liability lawyers know how to negotiate. The insurance company’s first offer is usually a complete lowball compared to what your case is actually worth. Your lawyer can communicate with the insurance adjuster on your behalf and negotiate for a settlement that is actually fair.
A settlement is usually agreed upon during the negotiation process. However, if the insurance company refuses to fight fair and you decide to file a lawsuit, your lawyer will be there every step of the way to fight for your rights and prepare you for court.
When looking for your lawyer, make sure you choose someone who has real experience in premises liability laws, can demonstrate a successful track record, and who you feel comfortable speaking honestly with.
A lawyer can help your premises liability case in many ways. After getting injured on someone else’s property, you may be left with a lot of medical costs, lost wages, and even emotional trauma. Seeking compensation that is fair to you can be difficult and complicated.
Here are some of the best ways a premises liability lawyer can help.
Investigating Your Claim
A lawyer can begin gathering information on your claim right away. They will start compiling evidence of the accident and your case like:
- Your medical costs and other receipts
- Pay stubs from your employer
- Pictures from the scene
- Witness statements
- If possible, surveillance footage from the scene
You can start documenting the accident at the scene, as well. This will help your lawyer build a strong case that demonstrates what happened and how the property owner or business was negligent in your accident.
Like other personal injury cases, premises liability cases are based on fault and negligence. To file a claim with the property owner’s or business’s insurance company, you will need to show that they were negligent and that their negligence leads to your injuries and damages. This is sometimes difficult since businesses do not like to admit liability and insurance companies always look for ways to reduce what they have to pay.
A lawyer who has experience with premises liability cases will know how to handle the insurance company and the evidence for your claim. They will work to paint a picture of what happened and how the owner was negligent.
Talking to Witnesses
Witness testimony can be really powerful in any premises liability case. If other people saw your accident, they can back up what you are claiming. If you are able to get the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene, your lawyer will reach out to them for witness testimonies.
You’ll need to know your total damages before filing your claim. This means it’s best to receive all of the medical treatment you need before filing. Your lawyer can make sure you are taking all losses into account after your accident like:
- Medical costs (both current and future)
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
The insurance company will likely send a lowball counteroffer, so you’ll need a legal professional who knows how to successfully negotiate for a fair settlement.
Complex premises liability cases may require expert testimony. Most lawyers will have a list of experts to call on if needed.
An experienced premises liability lawyer knows how to communicate and negotiate with insurance companies. Insurers often try to intimidate injury victims and convince them they deserve a much lower compensation than they do. Your lawyer can stand firm and fight for the full recovery you need and deserve.
Filing a Lawsuit
Most premises liability cases are settled far before the need to go to trial. However, if you do end up needing to file a lawsuit to pursue your damages, your lawyer will be there each step of the way.
To file a successful premises liability claim in Georgia, you will need a lot of solid evidence to show the at-fault party’s negligence, your damages, and more. Here’s what you need to know.
There are four main elements to proving negligence in a premises liability claim:
- There was a duty of care.
- The duty of care was breached.
- Your injuries resulted from that breached duty.
- You suffered damages because of the breached duty and your injuries.
Businesses in Georgia must exercise ordinary care in making sure their premises are safe for customers and visitors. This includes regularly checking for potential hazards and fixing or removing them. If a hazard cannot be fixed right away, they should warn customers of it.
If the property owner or business does not act in a way that prevents harm to their customers or visitors, they have breached their duty of care. That typically means they are negligent. Further, if that negligence leads to an accident where a customer is injured, the property owner or business is likely liable—thus, the term “premises liability claim.”
When a business is liable, it means they are responsible for covering the costs of your damages. Examples of damages include medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by your injuries. In most cases, the property owner’s insurance company is actually responsible for these costs.
Upholding a Duty of Care in Premises Liability
Many premises liability cases involve shopping centers, grocery stores, malls, or other places of business. However, establishments like hospitals and sporting arenas are also responsible for upholding a duty to those who legally come onto their premises.
Property owners must prevent harm in a number of ways, including by:
- Keeping all areas, such as floors, walkways, stairs, and steps, safe for those who visit
- Watching for hazards and fixing or cleaning them up within a reasonable amount of time
- Warning customers and visitors of hazards that cannot be immediately fixed or remedied
The owner must also act in a way that protects visitors and customers from third-party crimes.
Gathering Evidence for Your Premises Liability Claim
There is a lot of evidence you will need to compile to build a successful premises liability claim in Georgia. We highly recommend working with an experienced attorney from the beginning, as they can guide you through the best ways to build your claim. That being said, there are ways you can begin gathering evidence on your own, too.
You can gather the evidence needed to file your premises liability claim by:
- Taking pictures of the accident scene, the hazardous or dangerous condition that caused your accident, and your injuries
- Talking to any witnesses to your accident, asking what they saw, and getting their contact information
- Reporting the accident to the property owner or a store manager
- Seeing a doctor for treatment of your injuries as soon as possible
- Keeping track of all expenses you face from the accident
- Contacting a Georgia premises liability lawyer right away
The more evidence you can gather of the accident, the business’s negligence, and your damages, the better it can be for your premises liability claim.
To have a valid premises liability case, the property owner must have been negligent in your accident on their premises. You will need to prove this negligence, but how do you do it?
Here are four elements of proving negligence in your case.
1. There Must Be a Duty of Care
Property owners and occupiers in Georgia must keep their premises safe for those who are invited, induced, or lead onto their property. Failing to uphold that duty would mean they were negligent. If that negligence is the cause of your injury accident, the owner or occupier is likely liable for your damages.
If you were legally on the property as a customer, visitor, or tenant, the property owner likely owes you this duty of care.
2. The Owner or Occupier Breached Their Duty
You must be able to show that the owner did not maintain their duty to keep the premises safe. That could mean that they didn’t have certain safety procedures in place, or knew about a hazardous condition but failed to fix or remedy it, or didn’t warn customers or visitors about a potential hazard.
For example, if a store employee fails to put out a “wet floor” sign while mopping in a common area, they could be found negligent if a customer slips and falls and gets injured.
3. Your Injuries Resulted from the Breached Duty
Besides proving the duty of care and breach of duty, you must also show that your injuries happened because of those facts. Otherwise, the owner or business may not be responsible for your damages.
The owner or their insurance company might try to say that you weren’t careful enough to reasonably avoid the hazard. While you do have a duty to avoid obvious dangerous conditions, it’s more likely that the owner is just trying to reduce their liability. This is why it’s best to talk to a premises liability lawyer for help proving negligence.
4. Your Damages Result from Your Injuries
You will also need to show that the damages you’re claiming resulted from your injuries caused by the owner or occupier’s carelessness. You will need to demonstrate damages like:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Physical therapy
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
Compiling Evidence to Prove Negligence
To sufficiently show that the property owner or occupier was negligent, you’ll need to gather evidence through actions like:
- Taking pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, any property damage you have, and dangerous condition that caused your accident
- Reporting the accident to the property owner or store manager
- Keeping the clothes and shoes you were wearing when the accident occurred in case they are important pieces of evidence
- Talking to any witnesses to your accident and getting their contact information
- Keeping track of all expenses you have from the accident
You should also contact a Georgia premises liability lawyer as soon as possible. They can help you build your case and demonstrate how the property owner was negligent in your injury accident on their premises.
When filing a premises liability claim after being injured on someone else’s property, you can claim certain damages. The value of your damages determines how much compensation you are eligible to seek through a settlement. Therefore, you’ll need to understand which damages you can receive for your Georgia premises liability claim.
Here are the main damages you may be entitled to through your claim, beginning with the two main types: special damages and general damages.
Special Damages from a Premises Liability Accident
Special damages are losses that you must prove in your claim and that can be assigned a set dollar amount. They include the following.
Medical expenses refer to the treatment you must receive to recover from your injuries. The medical costs you might face include:
- Medical bills
- Doctor visits
- Prescription medications
- Future medical costs
- Physical therapy
- Travel to and from medical appointments
You’ll need to keep track of all medical expenses you face, including bills, doctor notes, and receipts. Your doctor will also give you an idea of how your future medical treatment will look, which needs to be considered when calculating your future and ongoing medical costs.
You can also claim missed work time in your premises liability case. Recovering for lost wages can make a huge difference, as you can’t pay for your bills unless you’re making money. You can also claim loss of earning capacity if your injuries impact your ability to earn the same amount of money as you were before.
You will need to prove your lost wages, and a premises liability lawyer can help you gather the necessary evidence. That might include W-2 from the previous tax year, paystubs, or wage verification from your employer.
If personal property like jewelry, your smartphone, or other possessions were damaged during your accident, you can include that property damage in your claim. If you can, take pictures of the damage after the accident and keep track of any repair costs.
General Damages in a Premises Liability Accident
General damages are different from special damages, as they do not have a specific dollar amount. General damages refer to how the accident and your injuries have impacted your quality of life.
General damages can include:
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Anxiety, depression, shock, or fear
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- An overall lowered quality of life
You will want to have a premises liability lawyer who can help you calculate general damages for your claim. Since there is no one way to do so, they’ll take into account factors like the severity of your injuries, how they have affected you emotionally, and ways your ability to work may be impacted.
Punitive Damages and Premises Liability
Sometimes, punitive damages may be available in a premises liability claim. Punitive damages have one primary purpose: to punish the wrongdoer and prevent future misbehavior.
To be eligible for punitive damages, your accident must have resulted from willful, wanton, or otherwise malicious intentions. You will also need to prove that this behavior was the cause of your premises liability accident.
It’s hard to give an average for premises liability settlements in Georgia because each case can be so different from the next. It’s best to speak with an experienced premises liability lawyer who can give you a good idea of how much your settlement can be worth.
Premises liability cases can range from thousands of dollars to several millions of dollars. The value of a settlement will depend on many factors, especially the ones below.
Your Medical Costs
Medical costs often make up the bulk of a premises liability claim. In fact, you must have physical injuries to actually file a claim against the property owner or occupier. The negligent party should be responsible for the medical costs of treating your injuries.
Examples of medical costs include:
- Doctor visits and hospital stays
- Prescription medications
- Physical therapy
- Psychological treatments
- Home modifications
- Travel expenses to and from appointments
You’ll want to wait until you’ve received all (or almost all) of your medical treatment before figuring out the value of your settlement. Once you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), your doctor can give you an idea of how your injuries look and whether or not you’ll need future treatment.
Your Lost Wages
You will probably need to miss a significant amount of work time because of the accident and your injuries. These lost wages can be included in your premises liability claim.
Lost wages can include:
- Past, current, and future wage losses
- Any other benefits you might have otherwise received at work
You may also be able to claim for loss of earning capacity if your injuries impact how you can work and do your job now.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages are common when serious physical injuries happen. Pain and suffering refer to physical and emotional suffering you experience because of your injuries. You might experience emotional trauma, fear, embarrassment, or depression as a result of your injuries.
Pain and suffering damages are really hard to calculate, so you’ll need the assistance of your premises liability lawyer to accurately account for them in your settlement amount.
Punitive damages are rarely awarded, but they might be an option if your injury accident resulted from fraud, malice, wantonness, or willful misconduct. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish rather than simply compensate the victim.
Wrongful Death Damages
No one wants to think about being involved in a fatal premises liability accident. However, if you are killed on someone else’s property, your surviving family may be able to claim wrongful death damages.
Wrongful death damages help cover medical costs, funeral and burial expenses, loss of support, and pain and suffering the deceased experienced before their death.
The Degree of Fault
Sometimes, more than one party is negligent in a premises liability accident. If you hold some percentage of responsibility in your accident, you can still seek damages as long as you are less than 50% at fault. However, your settlement value will be reduced based on your percentage of fault.
The timeline for a premises liability claim depends on many factors, including how severe your injuries and damages are, the response of the insurance company, and the decisions made between you and your lawyer. A quick case is not necessarily a good one, but you also want to meet all deadlines and seek fair compensation as soon as possible.
It’s best to work with a lawyer who has years of experience working on (and winning) Georgia premises liability cases. They will help you form a plan for your claim and give you an idea of how long the entire case might take.
Factors Involved in a Premises Liability Claim Settlement
Every case is different, so there is no set amount of time for how long you can expect yours to take. However, there are similar factors in each case that help dictate the timeline. Here are some of the most common ones to keep in mind.
You typically want to wait to file your claim until after your injuries have fully recovered. Or, you’ll need to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), which is where you have recovered as much as possible with medical treatment. Treatment can take anywhere from a few weeks to years.
When you wait to file until after you’ve been treated fully, you’ll have a good idea of your total medical costs. If you will require long-term, ongoing treatments or other medical attention, your doctor can give you an idea of what to expect. This will allow you and your lawyer to accurately calculate your future financial needs related to your accident injuries.
Retrieving Medical Records
Your lawyer will need to request all of your medical records for your claim. This might take anywhere from 45 to 60 days.
Preparing the Demand Letter
Once your lawyer has your medical records and has investigated the other damages in your claim, they can start preparing your demand letter. This will be sent to the property owner’s insurance company outlining your damages and your demand for compensation from the accident.
You will need to send this letter and your claim to the insurance company within two years of the date of your accident.
The insurance company will need to respond to your claim. Some insurance companies will wait until the last possible moment to respond, hoping you’ll give up and take a lower settlement (or none at all). They will typically offer you a lowball amount of money, but you should not take the first offer.
Your Georgia premises liability lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. If all goes well, an agreement on a fair settlement will be reached, and the claim will be settled.
Going to Trial
Most premises liability claims end during the negotiation phase. However, if a settlement agreement cannot be reached, your lawyer might advise bringing a lawsuit. This will extend your timeline, and there are several phases to the lawsuit process.
In the best-case scenario, you will still reach a settlement before your case goes all the way to court. That being said, if you do need to go to trial, your lawyer will be there every step of the way.
Your case will likely be settled before it goes all the way to court. It’s rare for that to happen. However, if you do need to file a lawsuit to seek compensation, you’ll need an experienced premises liability lawyer from the start.
There are also a number of reasons premises liability cases take longer to settle than they should. Here are some of the most common reasons.
Sometimes, more evidence comes out later on in the case. Your lawyer will work to compile everything initially, but if more information comes to light, it might prolong the negotiation process. The insurance company might also wait to offer a higher settlement amount until they have a report on your medical status from your doctor.
Negotiation is typically a huge part of a premises liability case. The insurance company might initially offer you a lowball settlement, hoping you’ll take it and close the case. However, this is bad news for you because it bars you from seeking additional compensation for your damages.
A premises liability lawyer is a game-changer because they know how to negotiate. They will figure out the full value of your case and fight to get the fairest settlement possible. Negotiation can take a while, but it’s usually worth it.
Stages at Which Your Case Might Get Settled
A settlement is usually reached during the first negotiation phase, but not always. If the insurance company won’t budge, your lawyer might recommend filing a lawsuit. This would move you toward the court date, but you still might not have to go to trial.
A lot of times after a lawsuit is filed, a settlement happens sometime before the trial date. Here are the typical stages where your case might be settled.
After the lawsuit has been filed, you’ll move into discovery. Discovery involves the exchange of documents and questions between each side. After discovery, your lawyer and the insurance company might discuss a settlement. They might come to an agreement between themselves at this phase, which would settle your case.
If the case still has not been settled, you move into the mediation. Both sides would go before a mediator with the goal of reaching a settlement agreement. If both sides agree on an amount at this phase, your case will be settled and you’ll ultimately get paid.
If you do not reach a settlement during mediation (which is rare at this point), a trial date will be set. However, there will still be opportunities to discuss settlement before the actual trial—even on the morning of the trial!
To increase your chances of a fair settlement before the need to file a lawsuit, contact a premises liability lawyer. Insurance companies do not want to deal with a lengthy and expensive lawsuit, so they are more likely to offer you a fair settlement if they know you’re willing to fight. Having an experienced lawyer on your side will demonstrate that to the property owner and the insurance company.
Going to court for a premises liability case in Georgia does not happen often, but when it does, you’ll want to be prepared. There are various stages of a premises liability lawsuit. You’ll need to know what to expect if it does happen.
How a Premises Liability Case Might Go to Court
After an injury on someone else’s property where the property owner or business is negligent, you have the right to file a premises liability claim. This claim would be filed with the negligent party’s insurance company. If all goes well, your lawyer and the insurance company will reach a settlement and you’ll get paid.
If a settlement cannot be reached, you may need to file a lawsuit to pursue the compensation you deserve. If the case continues all the way without a settlement, it will go to court. If your case goes to court, you will absolutely want to have an experienced premises liability lawyer on your side who can investigate and prepare your case for trial.
If you go to court for a premises liability case, here’s what you’ll need to expect.
Reach Maximum Medical Improvement
You won’t be able to know the full extent of your medical costs and other damages until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is the point where your injuries have recovered as much as they possibly can with treatment. Your lawyer will want to wait and see how much your total medical bills are so they can accurately calculate the compensation you’re owed.
The statute of limitations to bring a case is two years in Georgia, so you’ll need to be mindful of that deadline. Fully recovering from injuries can take weeks, months, or many years.
The Discovery Process
Once a lawsuit has been filed, you will be through a period called “discovery.” During discovery, both sides will investigate the other side’s claim and defenses. Information, documents, and interrogatories will be exchanged between your lawyer and the other side’s lawyer.
The timeline for discovery is usually between six months and a year, although it can vary a lot depending on the specific case details. A settlement might be discussed during the discovery phase. If a settlement is reached, the case will not need to proceed towards court.
During mediation, both sides will go before a mediator. They will attempt to reach a settlement at this point, as well. If these negotiations cannot end in a settlement, the case will then proceed to trial.
Going to Trial
Once you go to court, the process might take a day, or it might be a week or longer. It will depend on your specific case, so you’ll need to discuss it with your lawyer. Plus, trial dates can get rescheduled and moved around in some cases, so the process might take longer than you expect.
When you actually go to court, both your lawyer and the property owner or business’s lawyer will present facts relevant to the case. All information will be presented to a judge or jury. After seeing all of the evidence, the judge or jury will give a verdict and decide whether or not you will receive an award.
Chances are, your premises liability claim will not have to go all the way to court. Most cases in Georgia are settled well before the need to go to trial. Once you have agreed on a settlement with the insurance company, you can typically expect to get paid within a few weeks. However, when you can expect to get paid depends on a few different factors.
Here are some situations that can impact when you get paid your settlement.
Insurance Company Delays
After you (with your lawyer) and the property owner’s insurance company have agreed on a settlement, the insurance company should issue a check for your settlement after processing the release forms. Your lawyer will typically receive this check first.
The insurance company may cause delays when sending this information. However, the law in Georgia is to send the settlement payment within 10 days of accepting a premises liability claim. If you find yourself waiting longer than that for your payment, you should contact a premises liability lawyer right away.
As mentioned above, your lawyer will usually get your settlement check first. That will then hold it in escrow and any unpaid expenses, such as medical bills, might be paid or reimbursed from the check. This can slightly delay how long it takes for you to receive the remaining balance.
Your Attorney’s Fee
Most premises liability lawyers (like John Foy & Associates) work on contingency, so their fee is simply taken as a portion of the settlement you win. After paying any unpaid debts, your lawyer will take the agreed-upon percentage as their fee. Costs to be deducted might also include court costs, filing fees, and other expenses accrued in the course of your case.
The Severity of Your Injuries
You’ll also wait longer for your case to settle if you have significant injuries. You will want to wait until you’ve received all of your treatment before filing your claim. You have up to two years to file your premises liability claim, so you may have to wait a while before you reach a settlement.
The insurance company will usually respond to your claim with a lowball settlement offer. From there, your lawyer will negotiate with them for an actually fair settlement. This will extend the length of your case and settlement. However, the negotiation phase is worth the time because it can greatly increase what you’re able to receive.
Once all of the above factors are handled and a settlement is finalized, your lawyer will send you a check with the remaining balance. At this point, you’ll only wait up to a few days for the check to process.
The expertise and efficiency of your lawyer can also impact how long your case takes. However, a longer case is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, sometimes you need to wait longer to file your claim and pursue your settlement. It’s best to work with a premises liability lawyer who has experience working on your type of case.
Should I Accept a Cash Settlement from the Insurance company Adjuster for My Premises Liability Injury?
No. You should not accept the first cash settlement from the insurance company after your accident. Although it’s probably tempting, especially if you’re stressed about medical bills and more, the first offer is never enough to account for all of your damages.
Insurance companies are good at making you think they care about your premises liability accident. The truth is, they are trying to save as much time and money as possible. They might show concern or be nice when they contact you, but their main goal is to get you to accept as little money as they can.
What Determines the Value of a Premises Liability Settlement?
You will need to keep in mind all past, current, and future costs of your injuries before seeking a settlement. This includes:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disabilities
As soon as possible after your injury accident on someone else’s property, contact a premises liability lawyer. They can begin calculating the value of your settlement based on your damages. This is very hard to do on your own, so it’s best to let a trusted professional handle it.
Otherwise, you might be tempted to accept a settlement offer that is way less than your full damages. To avoid that happening, here’s what you should know before accepting any premises liability settlement:
You Can Negotiate
Although the insurance company doesn’t want you to know this, you can negotiate after receiving the first settlement offer. This is one of the most important reasons to hire a premises liability lawyer.
Your lawyer can communicate with the insurance company adjuster on your behalf and negotiate for a settlement that is fairer to you.
You Should Complete All Medical Treatment
Before seeking compensation, it’s best to complete all of your medical treatment. This will allow you to know the full extent of your medical costs, including future costs. Otherwise, you might be left paying for additional medical bills that you did not cause.
Once the Case Is Settled, That’s It
When you do accept a settlement from the insurance company, your case will close and you won’t have a chance to seek additional money for your damages. This is why it’s so vital to be completely sure of your damages before accepting anything.
Consider All (Current and Future) Damages
You will likely have medical costs, lost wages, and possibly property damage from your premises liability accident. These are easier to calculate and consider but don’t neglect to account for additional damages, too.
You might have pain and suffering damages, future lost earnings, and other expenses resulting from your injury accident that aren’t as obvious. Let your premises liability lawyer help you consider all areas that the accident has impacted your life and your finances.
To avoid missing out on the full compensation you need and deserve to cover your costs, talk to an experienced Georgia premises liability lawyer about your case right away. They’ll help you investigate the accident, determine all of your damages, and fight for a settlement that’s actually fair to you.
If you were partly negligent in your premises liability accident, you may still have options. Georgia has “modified comparative negligence” laws that allow victims to seek compensation even if they were partially at fault for an injury accident.
Comparative Negligence in Georgia
According to Georgia Code § 51-12-33, an injured party can still seek compensation for their damages if they are less than 50% at fault in the accident. On the other hand, if the victim was 50% or more at fault, they would not be able to recover any damages.
When the victim can recover damages, their total compensation would be reduced based on their percentage of fault. For example:
- Say you were hurt on someone else’s property and your damages totaled $100,000.
- You were found to be five percent at fault and the property owner was 95% at fault.
- You would be able to recover $95,000 for your damages and only be responsible for the remaining five percent, which is $5,000.
True premises liability victims are rarely 50% or more at fault, so chances are good that you can still seek recovery. You should talk to a Georgia premises liability lawyer before assuming one way or the other. They can look at the details of your accident and determine your best options.
Your Own Duty of Care
While property owners and businesses have a duty of care to keep their premises safe for visitors and customers, those who come onto the property have their own degree of responsibility.
Under Georgia law, you must exercise your own duty of care to avoid situations that could cause an injury accident. In other words, the hazard or dangerous condition that caused your injuries must not have been so obvious that you could have reasonably avoided it.
The property owner or their insurance company might try to claim you were simply not being careful enough. They are hoping to avoid liability in the accident since premises liability claims can be expensive. Your lawyer will help you uncover the truth and demonstrate how the property owner was actually negligent.
Limiting Your Fault in Your Case
The lower your percentage of fault in a Georgia premises liability case, the higher your compensation can be. The insurance company might work to blame you for as much of the accident as possible, so you’ll need a lawyer who can do the opposite.
The best way to decrease your liability in an accident on someone else’s property is by working with an experienced Georgia premises liability lawyer and gathering as much evidence as you can. You can begin protecting your rights right away by:
- Reporting the accident to the property owner or business right away
- Taking pictures of the accident scene
- Getting the contact information of any witnesses to your accident
- Keeping track of all costs from the accident
- Seeing a doctor for your injuries as soon as you can
- Not taking a call or signing anything from the insurance company until after you’ve spoken to a lawyer
For most premises liability claims, the statute of limitations in Georgia is two years from the date of the injury accident. There are exceptions to this, but the general law is two years to bring the case.
While two years might seem like a lot of time, it goes quickly from a legal standpoint. There are many steps along the way, and you and your lawyer will need time to investigate and prepare your claim. Plus, if you require a lot of medical treatment, you’ll ideally need to wait until you’ve received all the treatment you need.
Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Georgia
The statute of limitations refers to how long you have to bring a case. Once the statute of limitations has passed, you will usually lose any chance of pursuing legal action for that case. The clock starts on the day you are injured.
Since you’ll never know exactly how long your case will take, it’s best to get started as soon as possible. The best way to do so responsibly is by contacting a premises liability lawyer.
Statute of Limitations for Other Types of Cases in Georgia
There are three other types of cases that you might see related to premises liability:
- Property damage claims
- Wrongful death claims
- Claims against a government entity
Property Damage Claims
Property damage claims are for personal property that was damaged in the injury accident. That could be valuable pieces of jewelry, a smartphone, or other possessions that need to be repaired or replaced. (In a car accident case, a property damage claim would seek compensation for car repairs, for example.)
The statute of limitations for property damage claims is four years from the date of the accident.
Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims can be filed by family members if the victim was killed in a premises liability accident. Wrongful death claims have the same statute of limitations as premises liability claims, which is two years.
If you were injured on property owned by a city, state, or federal government, the claim becomes more complicated. You usually have two years to actually file the claim, but you must provide notice of the claim in writing within 12 months of the date you were hurt. Sometimes, the statute of limitations is shorter than that.
Children and the Legally Incompetent
If a premises liability accident victim is a minor below the age of 18, the clock on the statute of limitations would begin two years from the victim’s 18th birthday. Then, they would have two years to file the claim. However, the victim’s parents would still need to file for medical expenses within two years of the original accident.
If a victim is deemed to be legally incompetent, the statute of limitations would not start until the victim could become competent.
Missing the Statute of Limitations
If you try to file a claim after the statute of limitations is passed, your case would most likely get dismissed completely. You typically lose any right to seek damages for an accident after the two-year limit has passed.
Talk to a Georgia Premises Liability Lawyer for Free Today
Premises liability cases can be very complex, and there may be many legal statutes involved. To avoid missing out on the compensation you deserve, it’s best to talk with a Georgia premises liability lawyer as soon as possible. John Foy & Associates can provide you with that support and expertise.
Contact us today and we’ll give you a FREE consultation to discuss the details of your case. We don’t take a single fee unless we win you money, so there’s no risk to contact or work with us. Call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online today to get started for FREE.