Earlier this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a premises liability case that arose after a fuel delivery driver was run over while checking the fuel levels on the defendant’s fuel reserve tank. In the case, the court reversed a lower court ruling that had dismissed the plaintiff’s claims. The Georgia Court of Appeals based its decision on the “untenable choice” that the plaintiff was forced to make when it came to staying safe while working or keeping his job.
In Georgia, in order for a premises liability plaintiff to succeed, they must prove the defendant’s “failure to exercise ordinary care” in keeping the premises safe. In addition, the plaintiff must show that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Finally, the plaintiff must also show he lacked knowledge of the dangerous condition. This last requirement has come to be known as the “superior/equal knowledge doctrine.” Essentially, a plaintiff must show that the defendant’s knowledge of the hazard was greater than his own.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was delivering fuel to the defendant gas station. Part of the protocol implemented by the gas station was that the delivery driver must manually measure the fuel tanks before and after the tanks were filled. In order to measure the fuel level, delivery drivers must dip a long stick down a hole in the station’s parking lot. The plaintiff and other drivers had previously complained that this requirement is unnecessary and also dangerous, since customers often come close to striking drivers when they are measuring the fuel level. Evidence presented showed that several drivers who did not comply with the requirement were fired on the spot.
During one delivery trip, the plaintiff was struck by a gas station customer as he was measuring the fuel levels. He filed a premises liability lawsuit against the gas station. In response, the gas station claimed that he was aware of the dangers involved in measuring the fuel levels but chose to do so anyway. The trial court granted the gas station’s motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the plaintiff was successful in getting the lower court’s decision reversed. The court explained that the plaintiff was presented with the “untenable choice” of keeping his job or maintaining his own safety. As a result, it was not proper for the lower court to hold that the plaintiff made a knowing decision to place himself in harm’s way.
Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled personal injury attorneys at Miller Legal Services have decades of experience representing clients in a wide variety of personal injury matters, including premises liability cases. With their knowledge, skill, and dedication in your corner, you can rest assured that you and your case are in good hands. Call 770-284-3727 to set up a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Georgia Appellate Court Holds Teacher Who Left Classroom Is Entitled to Immunity in Wrongful Death Lawsuit, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 24, 2016.
Georgia Appellate Court Discusses Spoliation Doctrine and a Party’s Duty to Preserve Evidence, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 3, 2017.