Under Georgia Code § 51-3-1, a business or property owner can be held liable for injuries caused by “failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.” This type of claim is called a premises liability lawsuit. Most premises liability claims are handled by commercial insurance companies—and these insurers are ready to aggressively protect their financial interests.
Our founding attorney James Ponton is a former insurance company defense lawyer. We want to make sure injured victims and their families are prepared for what to expect in the personal injury claims process. Here, our Atlanta premises liability attorney discusses some of the most common legal defense strategies that you should be prepared to go up against.
In Georgia, businesses and property owners owe very limited responsibilities to trespassers. Even if a person was harmed by an unreasonably dangerous safety hazard or a clear property defect, they may still not be able to recover financial compensation through a premises liability claim if they were trespassing at the time of the accident.
No Actual or Constructive Notice
Property owners and property occupiers in Georgia have a general duty to take reasonable care to remedy safety hazards. Under the law, a business or property owner may not be liable for an accident if they did not have actual or constructive notice of a safety hazard. Put another way, a plaintiff in a premises liability claim in Georgia generally needs to prove that the defendant knew or should have known about the safety hazard to impose fault.
Georgia is a comparative negligence jurisdiction for premises liability claims. Asserting negligence on the part of the victim is one of the most common defense strategies used by businesses, property owners, and their insurers in premises liability claims. Here is an example of how this defense strategy works in practice:
- Imagine that a person was hurt in a slip and fall accident at a restaurant in Atlanta. The victim sustained $20,000 in total injuries in the fall accident. They slipped because the employees at the restaurant failed to clean up a spill, despite being notified about it by patrons several times.
If the restaurant is found liable for a slip and fall accident, the victim could seek $20,000 in damages through a premises liability claim. However, if the victim is held partially responsible for their own fall accident—perhaps because they were running through the restaurant—their compensation can be reduced under the comparative negligence standard. For instance, if the victim was assigned 25 percent culpability, their compensation would be reduced by 25 percent, or $5,000.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Atlanta Premises Liability Lawyer
At Ponton Law, our Atlanta premises liability attorney is an aggressive, justice-first advocate for victims and families. Our team knows how to get results. Give us a phone call at (404) 418-8507 or contact us online for a free initial appointment with an attorney. We handle premises liability cases throughout the Atlanta metro area, including in Fulton County, Cobb County, and DeKalb County.