False Arrest and Unsafe Premises Are Common Bases for Liability in Georgia
False arrest, malicious prosecution and false imprisonment often occur when security for a store or other retail establishment improperly detains an individual, when they cause a person to be arrested without probable cause or they encourage prosecution of a person when the negligenctly (or sometimes with ill intent) when no probable cause exists absent false information that is given to the authorities. Unfortunately, we find that these cases often involve a security guard who has poor training, or who has a false sense of power, and decides to pursue an innocent individual. When this occurs, the person who was improperly detained, arrested or prosecuted has a claim for monetary damages against the store or retail establishment. These incidents can cause a victim emotional as well as physical trauma and many times, can lead to long, unjustited stays in jail.
Georgia law makes abundantly clear that a property owner owes a duty to invitees to exercise ordinary care to keep its premises and approaches safe. Sometimes, however, an invitee is injured due to a condition on the owner’s premises created by the owner’s independent contractor. This does not necessarily relieve the property owner of liability, however. In other words, it provides an additional basis for liability, not an excuse for the propery owner to escape liability where it exists.
While it is true that an employer is generally not liable for the torts of its independent contractor, there are exceptions to this rule. One such exception exists where the independent contractor is performing the employer’s nondelegable statutory duty – and such a duty exists under OCGA § 51–3–1, referenced above. For example, in Kroger Co. v. Strickland, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that a business that hired an independent contractor to clean its floors could be held liable for the negligence of an independent subcontractor where the subcontractor’s negligence rendered the premises and approaches unsafe. There are a number of bases for holding the property owner or its agent liable for unsafe premises. These unsafe conditions can be static property defects or, ever increasingly, inadequate security that subjects guests such as store shoppers, hotel guests, or other types of invitees to a commercial establishment to unsafe conditions which causes physical injury and sometimes even death.
The property owner may only be relieved of its duty when it surrenders full possession and control to another party. The property owner can still be held liable even if it had no knowledge of a dangerous condition or was otherwise negligent in its own right. There are few situations that rise to this level of reliquishment of control by the owner, so most time and owner is liable, as well as its agents for these types of claims.
For over 25 years, Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling premises negligence, medical malpractice and other personal injury lawsuits for individuals and families who have been injured or died as a result of the negligence in the Atlanta, Georgia area. He is a partner in the law firm of Katz Wright & Fleming, LLC and regularly handles cases in Atlanta as well as Alpharetta, Brookhaven, Chamblee, College Park, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, Smyrna, Peachtree City, and other cities in Georgia. He is committed to making a difference in his clients’ lives. If you or family member have been seriously injured or died as a result of premises negligence and would like quality legal representation or if you would just like to consult about a potential case, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.