If you live or work in or around Atlanta, you have undoubtedly seen uncovered holes like the one below. Far too often, the City of Atlanta workers will not cover make the necessary repairs on these hazards, even after being repeatedly notified of the dangerous condition (Full disclosure: the picture below is from DeKalb County and was in the section of the AJC entitled “What’s not working around Metro Atlanta”).
Dangerous conditions like this are a hazardous condition. When an innocent person is injured by this hazard, they can sue the city of Atlanta or DeKalb County for negligence. However, once a city of county is made aware of the dangerous condition, the injured person can sue the city of county under and additional basis of negligence called nuisance. Nuisance, is essentially when a city of county is aware of a dangerous condition and allows it to continue to be unsafe instead of simply correcting the problem and eliminating the nuisance.
My firm recently tried a case in DeKalb County against the City of Decatur for a serious injury that was caused by the failure of the City of Decatur to properly maintain and repair its sidewalks. The fall occurred right outside the courthouse square. During the trial, my partners were able to establish that the City of Decatur did not proactively inspect and fix it sidewalks, but apparently just waited until someone reported an unsafe sidewalk condition (or, as in the lawsuit, was injured) before they would make repairs. The jury sided with our client and awarded an almost $200,000 verdict against the City.