Most injury cases in Georgia are based on negligence, which means a lack of care that an ordinarily prudent person would exercise under similar circumstances (Georgia Code § 51-1-2). To have a valid premises liability case, you will need to prove negligence. Below, we’ll cover how you can do that.
Four Elements of Proving Negligence in a Premises Liability Case
To prove negligence in a premises liability case, there are four things you will need to demonstrate:
1. There Was a Duty of Care
Under Georgia Code § 51-3-1, property owners and occupiers have a legal duty to keep their premises safe for those who are legally invited, induced, or lead onto their property. They would not owe the same degree of care to someone who was trespassing.
In your premises liability case, you’ll need to show that the property owner or occupier (such as business employees) owed you this duty of care as a visitor or customer. This part is fairly straightforward as long as your presence on the property falls in line with Georgia’s premises liability laws.
2. The Duty of Care Was Breached
The duty a property owner owes to visitors includes keeping their premises safe, fixing hazardous conditions within a reasonable amount of time, and warning customers or visitors if potential hazards exist. Failure to do so is typically a breach of their legal duty.
For example, if a store employee is mopping the floor, the floor can easily become slippery and pose a danger to those walking on it. The employee should put out a clear “wet floor” sign warning shoppers of the potential hazard. If they do not, they can be held liable.
For an owner or occupier to breach their duty, they must also have had actual or constructive knowledge about the potentially dangerous condition. Actual knowledge would be hearing about or seeing the hazard or potential hazard. Constructive knowledge means they should have reasonably known about the hazardous condition, but they did not.
3. The Breach of Duty Resulted in Your Injuries
The injuries you suffered on the property must have resulted from the property owner or business’s negligence. Otherwise, you’ll not be able to demonstrate that they were responsible for what happened.
You are also required to exercise your own ordinary care in avoiding dangerous conditions that are obvious and easily avoidable. Your claim will need to show that you could not have reasonably avoided the hazard without the property cleaning it up or warning you about it.
Even if you do bear some fault in the accident, you may still be able to seek compensation because of Georgia’s comparative negligence laws under Georgia Code § 51-12-33.
4. You Have Damages from Your Injuries
Besides proving that the owner or occupier’s negligence lead to your injuries, you’ll need to demonstrate that you suffered damages because of those injuries. Common damages in premises liability cases include:
- Medical bills
- Prescription medications
- Physical therapy
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
A minor slip and fall may not leave you with any damages, but a more serious accident can lead to thousands of dollars in medical bills, many missed workdays, and emotional trauma. It’s important that you keep track of all the losses you experience because of the accident.
As an injury victim, the burden is on you to bring your case and provide evidence of negligence. Your proof does not have to be “beyond a reasonable doubt” like in criminal cases, but you must be able to show that the owner or occupier “more likely than not” caused your accident, injuries, and resulting damages.
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How to Gather Evidence to Prove Negligence in a Georgia Premises Liability Case
Even if you know for a fact that a property owner or store was at fault for your injuries, you only have a strong case if you can prove that negligence. The only way you can provide proof is by gathering information about your accident.
Here are some of the most effective ways you can gather evidence for your case. You can do some of this on your own, but it’s best to ultimately work with a Georgia premises liability lawyer to make sure all your ducks are in a row.
Document the Premises Liability Accident
After your accident happens, if you are well enough, documenting what happened can help your case immensely. That includes taking pictures of:
- The accident scene
- The hazardous condition that caused your accident
- Your injuries and
- Any property damage
Picture evidence can be very helpful in a premises liability case, as the accident scene can sometimes be remedied or cleaned up completely. Having pictures of how everything looked right after you were injured preserves it no matter what happens.
Your premises liability lawyer may also work to recreate the accident or obtain store surveillance footage to further demonstrate what happened.
Report the Accident
Tell the property owner or store manager that you were injured because of a dangerous condition. If they try to blame you or argue about how it happened, don’t take the bate. Stick with the facts you know, and wait until you can speak with an attorney.
Talk to Witnesses
If anyone else saw your injury happen, talk to them and get their contact information. Your lawyer may reach out to them for a statement and witness testimony.
Keep Track of Your Damages
That includes medical bills, lost wages, doctor notes, and personal notes on how the accident has impacted you. You will need to provide proof of the damages you face because of the owner or occupier’s negligence in your accident.
Call a Georgia Premises Liability Lawyer
You can contact a lawyer as soon as moments after you leave the scene. Having an experienced attorney on your side from the beginning is invaluable to proving negligence in your premises liability case. They can help you compile further information and begin building a strong case to demonstrate what happened.
Talk to a Georgia Premises Liability Lawyer for Free Today
Don’t try to handle your premises liability case alone. There are a lot of moving parts, and you will need sufficient evidence to prove negligence. John Foy & Associates can provide the legal expertise and support you need, as we have been doing successfully for injury victims for over two decades.
To get a FREE consultation today, call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call and get started with your FREE consultation.