Whenever a person is on another’s property, the property owner owes their visitor certain duties to keep the premises free of certain dangers the visitor may encounter while on the land. This is true whether someone is a dinner guest in another’s home, or a customer of a business. In some cases, there may even be duties owed to trespassers.
Last year, the Georgia Court of Appeals heard a case that outlined some of the requirements that Georgia premises liability plaintiffs must show in order to prove their case and recover from the defendant land owner.
In the recent case, Siegel v. Park Avenue Condominium Association, the Georgia Court of Appeals dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint for a lack of evidence. But in so doing, the court explained to future litigants what sort of proof is required in order to recover.
The court outlined a “burden shifting” scheme that begins and ends with the plaintiff. At first, the plaintiff must prove that the condition on the defendant’s property was a hazardous one and that the defendant had knowledge of it. After the plaintiff proffers evidence tending to show that the defendant knew of the hazard, the burden then shifts to the defendant to show that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the plaintiff’s own negligence, and not the condition on the defendant’s property.
After that, the burden then shifts back to the plaintiff to show that there is some material fact that should be determined by a jury that relates to the injury and whether it was the defendant’s or plaintiff’s fault. If the plaintiff cannot meet its burden, then the court is proper to dismiss the case early in the proceeding.
In addition to the above, the plaintiff must also prove that the defendant had “superior knowledge” of the hazardous condition on their own land. This means that the defendant had a better idea that the hazard existed than the plaintiff. In other words, courts do not let plaintiffs recover if they know of a hazardous condition and the defendant does not.
In the case above, the court explained that, while the plaintiff submitted evidence that she was injured on a hazardous condition on the defendant’s property (a revolving door), the plaintiff failed to rebut the defendant’s contention that there was nothing dangerous about the door or its operation. This led the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s case.
Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Premises Liability Accident?
If you have recently been injured by a hazardous condition on the land of another, you may be entitled to recover damages to compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. After you recover from your injuries, your first step should be to contact an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Norman Miller is an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney who has litigated over 100 trials throughout his career. He has had successes in all aspects of personal injury law. Click here, or call 770-284-3727 today to schedule your free initial consultation.