The potential for injury exists around every corner, especially in unfamiliar locations or environments. Although many personal injuries occur in the home, many also occur on property that belongs to other people.
If you suffered an injury on someone else’s property, the owner may have been negligent if they failed to notice, warn about, or remove the hazard before it caused harm. You may be able to claim monetary damages from the negligent property owner if they are found liable for your accident. This area of law is called premises liability.
Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney soon after such an event is a smart move if you are considering a premises liability case. A Suwanee premises liability lawyer could analyze the circumstances to determine whether a claim for damages is warranted and guide you towards the compensation you deserve.
Recovering Damages Requires Demonstrating Negligence
Negligence means that a party had a duty that they failed to honor, and someone else suffered actual harm because of it. When an injured person (the plaintiff) seeks money damages from another party (the defendant), the plaintiff must show that the defendant was negligent. If the plaintiff wants to recover money damages, this demonstration of negligence is necessary.
In some accidents, the plaintiff and the defendant were both negligent. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 51-11-7 requires that each party be responsible for their part in causing the accident. The plaintiff may still collect compensation from the defendant as long as the plaintiff’s share of the fault is 49 percent or less. Any damages award will be reduced by a percentage that reflects the plaintiff’s degree of fault.
If a plaintiff is 50 percent or more responsible for an accident, the law prevents them from collecting damages from other parties. Defense lawyers and insurance companies may attempt to increase the plaintiff’s percentage of responsibility to prevent them from collecting on their claim. An aggressive premises liability attorney in the area could utilize evidence from the accident to demonstrate the property owner’s negligence.
Defendant’s Duty Depends on Relationship to Plaintiff
A plaintiff must show a breach of duty to collect damages, but the law concerning premises liability takes more than just negligence into account. Several variables affect the extent of the defendant’s duty to the plaintiff.
An invitee is a tenant of a commercial or residential rental property, customer of a business, ticket holder for an event at an arena, user of a park or public space, or person whose presence on the premises is permitted and mutually beneficial to them and the property owner. O.C.G.A §51-3-1 requires property owners to use reasonable care to keep their premises safe for invitees. Failure to use reasonable care is a breach of duty and basis for a potential negligence claim.
Licensees are people who have permission to be on property for their own purposes, rather than for the mutual benefit of themselves and the property owner. A social guest is a licensee, as is a political canvasser or someone who enters a property to ask for directions. Property owners must warn licensees of hidden hazards and may not willfully cause them harm, although there is obligation to keep a property safe for licensees.
A trespasser is anyone who enters a property without permission. Property owners’ only duty to trespassers is to refrain from harming them recklessly. There is an exception for properties that contain an attractive nuisance—such as a trampoline, swimming pool, or swing set—that might induce a child to trespass on the property. The owner of property that contains an attractive nuisance must take reasonable steps to protect children from risks they may be too young to understand.
A knowledgeable local attorney could explain how these classifications may impact a particular premises liability case.
A Suwanee Premises Liability Attorney Could Protect Your Rights
Premises liability cases can be complicated due to shared negligence and various legal definitions for those injured on someone else’s property. Insurance companies may try to label a person a licensee or trespasser to undermine the duty the property owner owed them and lessen the chances of a fair settlement.
A skillful attorney could push back against such tactics to hold negligent property owners accountable and protect the plaintiff’s right to claim compensation. Contact a Suwanee premises liability lawyer today to schedule a complimentary case review.