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Georgia Public Walkway and Stairway Injuries

Many more slip and fall cases are being litigated in Georgia state courts and a great deal of them end up in the appellate courts after appeals of summary judgment motions are either granted (i.e., the case is disposed of by the trial court on motion by the defendants and the plaintiff appeals the award of summary judgment) or denied (i.e., the defendant files a motion for summary judgment which is denied by the trial court and the defendant appeals the denial of its summary judgment motion).

As the Georgia Court of Appeals has stated in past opinions, “premises liability lies at the intersection of tort law and property law. To recover on a theory of premises liability, a plaintiff [the injured person] must show injury caused by a hazard that on an owner or occupier of land’s premises or approaches that the owner or occupier should have removed in the exercise of ordinary care for the safety of the invited public.”

We refer to these types of cases as Georgia Public Premises Liability Injuries. The law governing injuries that occur in public locations is governed by, among other statutes, O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1 (“Where an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon [the] premises for any lawful purpose, he [or she] is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his [or her] failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.”).

When a premises liability cause of action is based on a “trip and fall” or “slip and fall” claim the general test conducted by the appellate court is narrowed down to two specific elements. The plaintiff must plead and prove that: (1) the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard; and (2) the plaintiff, despite exercising ordinary care for his or her own personal safety, lacked knowledge of the hazard due to the defendant’s actions or to conditions under the defendant’s control. There are many situations which result in serious slip and fall injuries where the appellate court will presume that the defendant property owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. For example, in a recent case before the appellate court, the allegation by the plaintiff was that the floor was wet because the supermarket defendant mopped it. In that type of situation, the defendant is presumed to have knowledge of the water on the floor. Alterman Foods, Inc. v. Ligon,  272 S.E.2d 327 (Ga. App. 1980). “In this type of case the plaintiff may make out a cause of action by showing an act or omission on the part of the defendant which was the proximate cause of his injury and which could not have been avoided by the plaintiff through the exercise of ordinary care.” Id.

For more than 20 years, Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling personal injury cases, including slip and fall lawsuits for individuals and families who have been injured or died as a result of the negligence of others in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area, including Alpharetta, Austell, Brookhaven, Chamblee, College Park, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like quality legal representation or if you would just like to consult about your potential case, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online. We are here to help.