Voted Best Personal Injury Law Firm By Georgia Lawyers
Marietta Premises Liability Attorney
Matt Wetherington with Wetherington Law Firm,P.C. is the hardest working attorney I have ever worked with. He went above and beyond our expectations. Calls and emails are returned promptly and by Mr. Wetherington himself.
5 Stars is nowhere near enough to rate how awesome Matt and his colleagues were. They took my case even when I didn’t think there was anything we could do. I was in a bad situation at the time and Matt, Robert, and Sarah were there for me every step of the way.
I’m so grateful to Ben Levy and everything he did for me. He was truly dedicated to helping my case. Throughout the process, Ben was very thoughtful, responsive, organized, and made sure I was fully informed along the way.
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Premises liability is when a property owner may be responsible for accidents that happen on their land or building. People get hurt for many reasons like slippery floors, broken steps, or things falling. These accidents can leave victims with big medical bills, lost wages because they can’t work, and a lot of pain. It’s not fair if you get hurt because someone didn’t take care of their property.
In Georgia, the law (O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1) says that property owners have to make sure their place is safe for visitors. If they don’t do this, and someone gets hurt, the owner might have to pay for the harm caused. But, proving that the owner is at fault can be tricky. It’s important to show that the owner knew about the problem but didn’t fix it. This is where having a good lawyer can really help you get the money you deserve to cover your losses.
At Wetherington Law Firm, we believe you shouldn’t have to suffer because someone else didn’t do what they were supposed to. Our skilled team of Premises Liability Attorneys knows exactly how to fight for your rights. We’re here to help you every step of the way, from gathering evidence to talking to insurance companies. Let us take the burden off your shoulders. If you’ve been hurt on someone else’s property, call us today – we’re ready to make sure you’re taken care of.
Understanding Premises Liability
Premises liability is a legal concept used in personal injury cases where the injury was caused by some type of unsafe or defective condition on someone’s property. Essentially, it revolves around the responsibility of property owners to ensure their premises are reasonably safe for visitors. When they fail to meet this responsibility, and someone is injured as a result, the property owner can be held legally liable.
There are different categories of visitors to a property — invitees, licensees, and trespassers, and the level of care a property owner must provide can vary depending on the status of the visitor. Generally, property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees, who are on the premises for mutual benefit (like customers in a store), a lesser duty to licensees, who are there for their own purposes (like social guests), and very minimal duty to trespassers.
To win a premises liability case in court, the injured party usually must prove that:
- The property owner knew or should have reasonably known about the dangerous condition.
- The property owner did not take appropriate steps to remedy the condition.
- The dangerous condition directly led to the injury.
For example, if a grocery store owner fails to clean up a spilled liquid and a customer slips and falls, the owner may be liable for any injuries because they neglected their duty to maintain a safe environment.
In Georgia, premises liability is addressed under the Georgia Code (O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1), which states property owners must exercise “ordinary care” to keep their premises and approaches safe for visitors. If owners fail in this obligation, and you are injured as a result, you may have grounds to seek compensation for your injuries. This could include medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
It’s important to consult with our knowledgeable attorneys if you’ve been injured on someone else’s property, as they can help you navigate the complexities of premises liability law to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Common Causes of Premises Liability Injuries
Common causes of premises liability injuries occur when property owners fail to properly maintain their premises or create safe conditions for guests and visitors. Here are some frequent reasons why these types of accidents happen:
- Slip and Fall Accidents: This is perhaps the most common cause and can result from wet floors, icy walkways, loose carpets, or other slippery surfaces.
- Inadequate Maintenance: Injuries can arise from broken stairs, potholes in parking lots, crumbling sidewalks, or faulty equipment that the property owner has neglected to repair.
- Defective Conditions: These might include issues like poor construction, structural defects, or unsafe playground equipment that can lead to accidents.
- Inadequate Security: If a property owner fails to provide reasonable security measures and someone is assaulted or robbed on the premises, the owner might be held liable.
- Obstructions and Clutter: Objects left in walkways, open drawers, or cords that cross paths can cause people to trip or fall.
- Poor Lighting: Insufficient lighting in stairwells, hallways, or parking lots can lead to falls or other types of injuries.
- Electrical Hazards: Exposed wiring or malfunctioning appliances on a property might cause electrocution or fires.
- Toxic Substances: Chemical leaks or the presence of mold and other hazardous materials can result in health issues or injuries.
- Falling Objects: Items falling from shelves or construction materials from above can strike individuals, leading to serious injuries.
- Elevator and Escalator Injuries: Malfunctioning elevators or escalators can cause trips and falls or entrap limbs.
How Property Owner Negligence Affects Your Claim
When a property owner’s negligence leads to an accident or injury, this can significantly impact your claim in a premises liability case. Negligence means that the property owner did not take reasonable care to prevent injuries from occurring on their property. Here’s how this negligence may affect your claim:
- Proof of Negligence: To have a successful premises liability claim, you must show that the property owner acted negligently. This means proving that the owner knew or should have known about the hazardous condition and failed to fix it or warn visitors, leading directly to your injury.
- Causation and Liability: The owner’s negligence must be the direct cause of your injuries for a claim to be valid. If something else caused the injury, or if the danger was obvious enough that you could have avoided it, your claim might not be as strong.
- Degree of Care Owed: The claim will also consider the duty of care owed to you, which is based on your legal status as a visitor. Invitees are owed the highest duty of care, while trespassers are owed the least. If you were an invitee, such as a customer in a store, demonstrating the owner’s negligence might be easier.
- Comparative Fault: In some situations, Georgia’s comparative fault laws may reduce your compensation if you’re partly to blame for the accident. For example, if you ignored clear warning signs or ventured into restricted areas, your compensation could be reduced.
- Damages: The negligence of the property owner must have caused damages — such as medical bills, lost income, or pain and suffering — for you to receive compensation. The more clearly the negligence led to your damages, the stronger your claim will be.
Proving liability is critical in a premises injury case because it establishes the property owner’s responsibility for the harm caused to the victim. Without proving liability, there can be no accountability and, therefore, no compensation for the injuries suffered. Here’s why establishing liability is so important:
- Legal Foundation for Compensation: Establishing that the owner was liable provides the legal basis needed for a victim to recover damages. These damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. Without proving liability, the claim cannot move forward.
- Owner Responsibility: When liability is established, it means the property owner failed in their duty to provide a safe environment. This sends a message that negligence is unacceptable and can serve as a deterrent, encouraging property owners to be more vigilant in the future.
- Fair Outcome for the Victim: Proving liability ensures a just outcome for the victim. When an injury occurs due to a hazard on someone else’s property that could have been prevented, it is only fair that the property owner is held accountable for the resulting injuries and costs.
In premises liability claims, the types of compensation—or “damages”—that may be available to an injured party typically fall into two main categories: compensatory damages and, in rare cases, punitive damages.
These are designed to compensate the victim for losses suffered due to the injury, and in some cases, to punish the wrongdoer. Here are the types of compensation that might be available:
1. Medical Expenses: This can cover both current and future medical costs related to the injury, such as hospital bills, medication, physical therapy, and any ongoing rehabilitation.
2. Lost Wages: If the injury caused you to miss work, compensation can cover lost income. This can extend to loss of future earning capacity if the injury affects your ability to work long-term.
3. Pain and Suffering: These damages are awarded for the physical pain and emotional distress the victim has suffered because of the injury. Emotional distress could also include anxiety, depression, insomnia, and loss of enjoyment of life.
4. Loss of Consortium: In severe cases, the injured person’s spouse may be able to claim loss of consortium, which refers to the loss of the benefits of a family relationship due to injuries.
5. Wrongful Death: If the premises liability accident resulted in a fatality, the victim’s family might be entitled to wrongful death damages, which can include funeral costs, lost income/support, and loss of companionship.
6. Property Damage: If personal items or property were damaged as a result of the accident, compensation might be available to repair or replace them.
7. Rehabilitation Costs: Costs for rehabilitation services, including physical therapy or vocational rehabilitation if the injuries require a career change, might also be covered.
8. Punitive Damages: In cases where the property owner’s behavior is found to be particularly reckless or intentional, punitive damages may be awarded as a punishment and to deter similar future conduct.
9. Incidental Expenses: Sometimes, an injury can lead to additional costs—such as travel expenses to and from medical appointments—that might be compensable.
10. Legal Fees and Costs: Depending on the case and local laws, some or all of your legal fees and the costs of bringing your case may be recoverable.
Steps to Take After a Premises Accident
If you’ve been involved in an accident on someone else’s property, there are several steps you should take to ensure your safety and to preserve your right to possible legal compensation:
1. Seek Medical Attention
- Your health and safety come first. Even if you do not think you’ve been seriously injured, certain injuries may not be immediately apparent. A medical professional can assess and document your injuries, which is critical for any subsequent claim.
2. Document the Scene
- Take photos or videos of the area where the accident occurred, including any hazardous conditions or obstacles that contributed to your accident.
- If there were any witnesses, try to obtain their names and contact information.
- Make note of the time and date, as well as any relevant environmental conditions (like lighting or weather).
3. Report the Accident
- Inform the property owner, manager, or staff member of the incident. Larger establishments, like stores or hotels, may have a formal process for documenting accidents.
- Request a copy of the accident report if one is created.
4. Do Not Admit Fault
- Be cautious of what you say after the accident. Even an offhand apology can be construed as an admission of fault, which can be used against you in a legal claim.
5. Keep Records
- Start a file to keep track of medical reports, correspondence with doctors, receipts for any expenses related to your injuries, and a record of lost work or wages.
6. Follow up with Medical Treatment
- Adhere to the treatment plan prescribed by your doctor, including attending all follow-up appointments and any recommended physical therapy. Not following through with prescribed treatment can hurt your claim.
7. Avoid Social Media
- Refrain from posting about your accident or injuries on social media platforms, as these statements can be used to undermine your claim.
8. Consult with a Premises Liability Attorney
- Before speaking with any insurance companies, it’s advisable to contact our attorney experienced in premises liability law. We can provide guidance on your legal rights and how to pursue compensation for your injuries.
9. Don’t Settle Early:
- Avoid accepting early settlement offers from insurance companies. These first offers are often much lower than what you might be entitled to. Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf for a more appropriate amount.
10. Keep a Symptom Diary:
- Record your daily pain levels, any difficulties you encounter during your regular activities, and the emotional impact the injury has had on your well-being.
The Process of Filing a Premises Liability Claim in Marietta
Filing a premises liability claim in Marietta, Georgia involves a series of steps and adherence to Georgia’s premises liability and personal injury laws. Here is a general process outline that can guide you through filing such a claim:
- Initial Assessment and Medical Treatment:
- Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries.
- Ensure that all injuries are documented by medical professionals.
- Consult with a Premises Liability Attorney:
- Find an experienced attorney for a case evaluation and legal advice. We can help you file your claims, negotiate your compensation and represent you in court.
- Your attorney conducts a thorough investigation of the accident circumstances.
- This may include visiting the site, gathering evidence, and interviewing witnesses.
- Document Collection:
- Accumulate evidence such as photos, witness statements, accident reports, and medical records.
- Filing an Insurance Claim:
- File a claim against the property owner’s insurance with the help of your attorney.
- Demand Letter:
- Your attorney drafts a demand letter to the insurer or property owner outlining your case and compensation request.
- Enter into a series of negotiations with the insurance company to reach a settlement.
- Filing a Lawsuit:
- If negotiations fail, file a lawsuit in court within the statute of limitations period.
- Engage in the discovery process, sharing information and gathering further evidence.
- Mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution:
- Attempt to settle the case through court-ordered or suggested mediation.
- Present your case before a judge or jury if mediation or settlement is not successful.
- Post-Trial Actions:
- Collect the awarded judgment or discuss appeal options with your attorney if the decision is not in your favor.
If you’ve suffered an injury on someone else’s property in Marietta, don’t wait to take action. Your well-being and financial recovery are paramount, and the clock is ticking on your ability to file a claim.
Reach out today to speak with a skilled premises liability attorney who can evaluate your case, guide you through the complex legal process, and fight relentlessly for the compensation you deserve. Contact us now to secure your rights and start the journey toward justice and healing.