Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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When you have a personal injury case, whether it be from a motor vehicle collision, a slip & fall, or truck accident, it is important to do everything that is in your control to preserve your claims and to make it difficult for the insurance company or the defense attorney to defend your case.  The following article will outline the “do’s and don’ts” of a personal injury case.

The Do’s of a Successful Personal Injury Case

  • Do call the police to the scene.
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In Georgia, a property or business owner can be held responsible for a crime that is committed by a third party criminal, if the crime was reasonably foreseeable.  Many cases involving violent crimes, such as assaults, rapes, or murders, occur on properties that are owned and operated by businesses that earn profits and have a duty to keep their patrons, tenants, and other visitors safe.  This duty of care is outlined under Georgia’s premises liability law, which states that a landowner or operator has the duty to exercise ordinary care to keep its premises safe for its invitees.

This legal language generally means that a property owner has to act in a way that a reasonable person in the same position would act to keep the property safe for people who are invited onto the property or otherwise allowed to be on the property.  The protection is not one that is all-encompassing, nor does it apply to people who are not supposed to be there.  Ordinarily, a criminal act by someone that has nothing to do with the property is considered an “intervening act” for which the property owner cannot be held liable.

However, many Georgia cases have allowed victims of crimes occurring on properties where the owners should have reasonably foreseen the occurrence of the crimes.  One way of showing foreseeability is using substantially similar previous criminal activities that occurred on or near the premises that would alert a reasonable person in the same position to take ordinary care to protect visitors and other people from the criminal activity.  That is not the only way to show foreseeability, but is one way to prove it.

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5 Things You Should Do After Having a Slip & Fall

If you are severely injured on someone else’s property because of a dangerous condition that should not be there, you’re probably not thinking about what you need to be doing to preserve a legal claim.  Nonetheless, there are certain steps that you can take that will help strengthen or preserve your potential legal claim based upon Georgia’s premises liability laws.  

  • Report the incident to the property owner.
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Generally, the victim of a security guard’s bad acts or negligence (false imprisonment, excessive use of force, wrongful detention) may bring a civil lawsuit in Georgia to recover damages for the victim’s resulting injuries.  However, because recovering damages in a civil suit requires money, whether it be via a corporate entity with deep pockets or via insurance coverage, a more important question is, “can any corporate defendants also be held responsible for the individual security officer’s acts?”  When looking at corporate entities to sue in a case involving a bad acting security guard, Georgia attorneys should investigate the case to see if the property owner who hired the security guard and/or the security company who employed the guard can be held responsible for the guard’s behavior.

Under Georgia law, property owners have the ultimate duty of care, or the responsibility to its customers, tenants, visitors, or other people who are lawfully on the property, to keep the property safe.  This responsibility includes making sure that the security guard or security guard company is one that will properly ensure the safety of the people who are lawfully present on the property.  Under some circumstances, a property owner can be held liable for the security guards intentionally bad acts, crimes, or unintentional acts/negligent acts.  Examples of intentional bad acts include using excessive force, such as assaulting or shooting someone unnecessarily or wrongfully detaining or arresting someone.  Examples of negligence include not being on the property when required or failing to follow certain safety protocols and procedures.

Many property owners hire private security companies to keep their properties safe.  Thus, it is possible for a victim of a security guard’s bad or negligent acts to sue the security company that employed the guard.  Under the Georgia law of respondeat superior or vicarious liability, an employer can be held responsible for an employee’s wrongful acts, if the employee was working within the course and scope of his or her employment. Secondly, an employer, such as a security company that employs a bad security guard, may be held responsible for the negligent hiring, retention, supervision, and training of a security guard who acts negligently or wrongfully. Thus, an attorney handling the case against the security company should investigate whether the employer checked the guard’s criminal history or work history before hiring him.

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Georgia premises liability law requires property owners to keep their premises safe from known dangerous conditions, which can include third party criminal acts. A property owner who knows that there is criminal activity on its premises owes a duty to take actions to keep visitors, tenants, and other people who are allowed to be on the property safe from the harm. Thus, when someone is hurt or killed on a property, the injured party or their family can bring an injury and a wrongful death action against a negligent property owner. These types of claims against property owners are commonly referred to as negligent or inadequate security cases.

You may wonder how a property owner can be expected to control the actions of an unrelated third party. The duty does not require the property to absolutely ensure that all people on the property are safe at all times; the duty requires the property owner to do what it can to protect parties from known dangers. For example, an apartment owner who is aware of assaults of its tenants occurring on the property can take the following steps to protect tenants and visitors:

  • Secure the premises with working fencing and gating;