Premises Liability

Our Atlanta, Georgia based injury law firm has handled cases of serious injury occurring on the property of many different private businesses and residences throughout Georgia.

In Georgia, property owners—regardless of whether they are major shopping center owners or homeowners—owe a duty of care to most people who are present on their property. The highest duty of care is owed to people invited to a property, usually for a business purpose. Under Georgia law, these people are known as “invitees.” (O.C.G.A 51-3-1). Premises owners owe an “invitee” a duty of “ordinary care to keep the premises and approaches safe.”

Georgia also has a classification for people not invited to a property, yet who presence is allowed and often expected. These are people who the property owner should expect to be present on the property even if not specifically invited. This type of visitor is known as a “licensee.” (O.C.G.A. 51-3-2). Under Georgia law, a property owner’s duty to a licensee is to not “recklessly or wantonly” injure the licensee. Generally, licensees are people with whom the property owner has no business or contractual relationship and, though the property owner should expect the licensee’s presence, the licensee is on the premises for his or her own interests.

There is a third category of property visitor under Georgia law, the trespasser; however, trespassers are owed little, if any, duty by the property owner. As practical matter, legitimate visitors to a property are usually not classified as trespassers under Georgia law.

  1. What must be shown for an Invitee to recover damages for injuries suffered due to action/inaction by a property owner? An Invitee must prove two things in order to recover based on a premises liability theory:The Landowner/Occupier failed to exercise ordinary care for the safety of its Invitees/Customers by knowingly allowing a dangerous condition to exist on its premises; and
  2. The Invitee/Customer did not have equal or superior knowledge of the dangerous condition; or, the Landowner/Occupier was prevented from discovering it. Alterman Foods, Inc. v. Ligon, 246 Ga. 620, 623 (1980).

What must be shown for a Licensee to recover damages for injuries suffered due to action/inaction by a property owner? A Licensee must prove the following two things in order to recover based on a premises liability theory:

  1. The Landowner/Occupier acted wantonly or recklessly in causing harm to the Licensee or failed to warn the Licensee of hidden dangers; or,
  2. If the Landowner/Occupier knew or should have known of the presence of the Licensee on the property, that the Landowner/Occupier did not exercise ordinary care to prevent harm to the Licensee.

How do you prove whether the landowner had knowledge of a hazard on the property? A landowner’s knowledge of hazards on his or her property may be “actual” or “constructive.”

  1. Actual Knowledge – The Landowner/Occupier actually discovers the dangerous condition in question or is told about it.
  2. Constructive Knowledge – This type of knowledge is shown in one of two ways:
  • Evidence that a Landowner/Occupier or his employee was in the immediate area of the dangerous condition and could see it; or,
  • Evidence that the danger had been present for an unreasonable period of time and by failing to recognize the danger/inspect the premises, the Landowner/Occupier is deemed to have legal knowledge of the hazard.

When land is used for a purely recreational purpose (hunting, fishing, boating, camping, etc.), Georgia law greatly limits the liability of the premises owner, as more fully set forth in O.C.G.A. 51-3-21 et. seq.

Law Offices of Andrew Goldner, LLC

1050 Crown Pointe Pkwy #340
Atlanta, GA 30338

Phone: (404) 869-1580
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