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City of Atlanta Potentially Liable For Hazard

There is a storm grate located within the City of Atlanta in front of the famous Oakland cemetary. It is a very large concrete storm drain cover which is dislodged and causing a hazard. The storm drain is located on Memorial Drive in front of Oakland cemetary.

Interestingly, the Atlanta citizen who complained about the damaged storm drain cover noted that there was accumulated dirt and weeds growing in and around it. This strongly indicates that the damaged storm drain cover has been dislodged and causing this dangerous condition for over a year. This is important because the City of Atlanta, as a municipality, is liable for all injuries caused by the defective storm grate once the City knew or should have known of the defective condition. Once this is established, the defective condition is considered a nuisance and liability attaches to the City. Other ways in which the knowledge of the City can be proven is by establishing that other people have been injured by the defective condition and filed claims against the City or by showing that others have complained to the City about the defective condition prior to the injury in question.

There have been many cases in which the City has avoided liability by claiming that it did not have prior notice of the dangerous condition which caused the incident. This is a proper defense for the City, especially if there is not proof that the dangerous condition has existed for an extended period of time. However, once weeds start growing over the dangerous condition, and leave and other debris become embedded in the hazard, strong evidence supports that the City will not be able to escape liability by claiming it did not know. That is so because the standard of notice to the City in these situations is: “knew or should have known” of the dangerous condition.

The problem with particular storm grate cover is that part of the cover rests in the gutter and the other end is thrust up in the air where it can easily snag bicyclists or pedestrians who are trying to pass by. This is a potentially deadly situation because a bicyclist or pedestrian who is ensnared in the grate and is thrown into the street could very easily be run over and killed by a passing car.

Attorney Robert J. Fleming specializes in representing clients who have been injured in automobile accidents. Over the years, we have been approached by many clients who have been badly injured. Many times, the at-fault driver is under-insured and the client has limited amounts of underinsured motorists coverage. In these situations, it is critical to act quickly by thoroughly investigating the facts of the case to ascertain whether there are any potential additional defendants (i.e., the Georgia Department of Transportation or the City of Atlanta for unsafe road conditions). Equally important and time-sensitive is to exhaustively investigate the at-fault driver to find other sources of insurance or personal assets that could be used to satisfy a judgment.