How can you seek compensation for an injury you sustained on another’s property? From minor slips & falls to major cases of negligence, learn about how you can find the right attorney and fight for a fair solution.
Every year, there are thousands of Georgia residents that wind up in the hospital after sustaining an injury on someone else’s property. These accidents occur in the front yards of neighbor’s homes and the parking lots of local grocery stores, and in many of these cases, the injured person has a right to seek compensation from the negligent property owner. Sustaining a major (or even minor) injury can sideline your career and cost thousands of dollars in medical care, so it is imperative that you find an attorney that can help you get back on your feet both physically and financially.
Premises Liability in Georgia
This area of law is generally referred to as Premises Liability and it seeks to determine if the property owner’s negligence contributed to the injury. Usually, property owners are held responsible for any hazardous conditions that they knew about and/or failed to correct. Because property owners cannot reasonably prevent all unexpected hazards (like lightning strikes), premises liability refers only to the hazardous conditions that the owner could have prevented or should have taken action against.
For the purposes of this article, we will use a hypothetical example to describe the steps and strategies that the injured party should follow. For this scenario, we will imagine Susan, a middle-aged mother who is eating lunch on a restaurant’s outdoor wooden deck. During her meal, the deck unexpectedly collapses, leading to a broken leg and concussion. While recovering, she misses several weeks of work and may require long-term rehabilitation or future surgery.
In our example case, can the restaurant owner be held liable for Susan’s injuries? Without any supporting information, the answer is “maybe.” It largely depends on the reason the deck collapsed and the circumstances leading up to it. This is the type of information your attorney will uncover. Now, let’s walk through the steps of this premise liability case.
Step One: Seeking Medical Help
The first and most important part of any personal injury case is seeking appropriate medical help. Whether that means calling 911 or scheduling a doctor’s appointment, Susan’s first course of action should involve contacting a medical professional. Make sure that you hold onto all medical records and bills, as these documents could play a major role in settlement offers.
Step Two: Survey the Scene
Depending on the extent of your injury, you may be able to survey the location for any inconsistencies. Were there adequate warnings about unsafe conditions? Was there anything on the premises that stood out as unreasonably hazardous? If possible, use your smartphone to take pictures of the area in question. If not, you can always make handwritten notes after the fact, providing detailed information about your recollections of the event.
Step Three: Find an Attorney
After Susan’s accident, she has two years to engage in legal action against the property owner. In the State of Georgia, premise liability cases have a two-year statute of limitations, so Susan should begin looking for an attorney within this time frame. The ideal attorney should have proven experience in premises liability cases and a strong understanding of local building laws and property ordinances.
Step Four: Uncovering the Facts
Once Susan finds legal representation, her attorney will represent her side of the story to find the reason for the deck collapse. In this case, let’s say the attorney finds that the restaurant’s wooden deck had long-term evidence of termite damage, but the property owners claim they had no idea the deck had such problems. Can the property owner still be held liable if they had no knowledge of unsafe conditions?
Step Five: Determining Liability
Despite the restaurant’s lack of knowledge about the deck’s termite problem, a good attorney will be able to fight on the client’s behalf no matter what, affirming that the restaurant should have taken a more active role inspecting their property. Did the client meet all inspection requirements and building codes? In many cases, even though a property owner may not know about a potential danger, they can still be held liable because it is their responsibility to maintain safe conditions on the business premises.
Step Six: Seeking Compensation
Most premises liability cases will not be heard in front of a judge. The vast majority of these disputes will settle out of court, giving both sides a chance to offer and counter-offer settlements until both accept a reasonable outcome. Because your financial well-being and physical health is often in question, your attorney should be able to maximize your compensation in an aggressive way. Your injury may have adversely affected your quality of life or caused some level of pain and suffering. In any case, your attorney should fight for fair compensation.
When it comes to premises liability cases in Georgia, you can trust The Jackson Law Firm. For over twenty years, our team has been serving the residents of Dublin and South Georgia, helping them find a way to recover after an accident. For more information, call us today at 478-272-7607 and schedule a consultation.