Voted Best Personal Injury Law Firm By Georgia Lawyers
Valdosta, GA 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 people get hurt because a place wasn’t kept safe. This can happen in many places like stores, restaurants, or someone’s house. People might slip on something wet, trip over something left on the floor, or get hurt because a stair was broken. When these accidents happen, people can get really hurt, needing to go to the doctor or even stay in the hospital.
Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1) says that the people who own or take care of places have to make sure their places are safe for others. If they don’t, and someone gets hurt because they weren’t careful, they might have to help pay for the injured person’s medical bills, missed work, and pain.
To ask for help with these costs, the person who got hurt has to show that the owner knew or should have known about the danger but didn’t fix it. This can be hard to do, but it’s really important because it’s how you prove you should get help. Also, there’s a rule in Georgia (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33) that says you have two years from when you got hurt to ask for this help. This means you need to act fast and get everything ready to show why you deserve help.
At Wetherington Law Firm, we’re experts in helping people who got hurt because a place wasn’t safe. We know how to find out what went wrong and talk to the right people to make sure you get the help you need for your injuries.
We’ll work hard to make sure the place that wasn’t safe takes responsibility and helps you with your medical bills and any other problems caused by the accident. If you or someone you care about got hurt because a place wasn’t kept safe, contact us. We’re here to listen to your story and help you figure out the best way to move forward.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability refers to the legal principle that property owners and occupiers are responsible for ensuring their premises are reasonably safe for visitors. This responsibility means that if someone is injured on the property due to the owner’s or occupier’s negligence in maintaining a safe environment, the injured party may have the right to seek compensation for their injuries.
The concept of premises liability covers a wide range of incidents, including slips and falls, inadequate security leading to assault or theft, accidents involving construction sites, dog bites, and more. The specific obligations of property owners can vary based on the status of the visitor (e.g., invitee, licensee, or trespasser) and the nature of the property itself.
For a premises liability claim to be successful, the injured party generally needs to prove several elements:
- The defendant owned, leased, occupied, or controlled the property.
- The defendant was negligent in the use or maintenance of the property.
- The plaintiff was harmed.
- The defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm.
Common Causes of Premises Liability Injuries
- Slip and Fall Accidents: These are the most common causes of premises liability claims and can occur due to wet floors, icy walkways, uneven surfaces, loose carpets, or poorly maintained floors.
- Inadequate Maintenance: Injuries can result from a property owner’s failure to properly maintain the premises, including broken stairs, potholes in parking lots, crumbling sidewalks, or faulty electrical wiring leading to fires.
- Defective Conditions: This includes injuries caused by structural defects or hazardous conditions on the property, such as poor building materials or design that leads to collapses or other accidents.
- Inadequate Security: If a property owner fails to provide adequate security measures, individuals can be injured as a result of assaults, thefts, or other crimes. This is particularly relevant in places known to be at high risk for criminal activity.
- Elevator and Escalator Accidents: Malfunctioning or poorly maintained elevators and escalators can cause falls or entrapment injuries.
- Dog Bites: Property owners may be held liable for injuries caused by animal attacks on their property, especially if the animal was known to be dangerous.
- Swimming Pool Accidents: Includes injuries from slips around the pool area, drowning or near-drowning incidents in pools not properly supervised or lacking safety features.
- Toxic Exposure: Exposure to hazardous chemicals or materials, such as lead paint, mold, or toxic fumes, due to a property owner’s negligence can lead to serious health issues.
- Amusement Park Accidents: Injuries occurring on rides or attractions due to improper operation, maintenance, or safety measures.
- Falling Objects: Injuries caused by objects falling from shelves or construction sites due to improper storage or securing of materials.
The Legal Process for Filing a Premises Liability Claim
- Seek Medical Attention:
- Immediately get medical treatment for your injuries.
- This documents your injuries, which is vital for your claim.
- Document the Incident and Gather Evidence:
- Take photos of the scene and your injuries.
- Collect contact information from witnesses.
- Keep records of medical treatments and expenses.
- Consult with a Premises Liability Attorney:
- Seek advice from an attorney specialized in premises liability.
- They can evaluate your case and guide you through the legal process.
- Determine Liability:
- Identify all potentially liable parties, including property owners, leasing agencies, or maintenance companies.
- File an Insurance Claim:
- Submit a claim to the property owner’s insurance.
- Your attorney can handle submission and ensure all documentation is thorough.
- Negotiate a Settlement:
- Your attorney negotiates with the insurance company to reach a fair settlement.
- Settlements aim to cover all your damages, including medical expenses and lost wages.
- File a Lawsuit:
- If negotiations fail, file a lawsuit against the liable party.
- This step involves preparing legal documents and may lead to a trial.
- Both sides present their case in court.
- A judge or jury decides on liability and damages.
- Receive Compensation:
- If successful, you receive compensation for your injuries and losses.
Types of Compensation Available in Premises Liability Claims
In premises liability claims, victims may be entitled to various types of compensation to address the injuries and losses they’ve suffered due to the property owner’s negligence. Understanding the types of compensation can help ensure that victims seek all the support they need for their recovery. Here are the key categories of compensation typically available:
- Medical Expenses: Covers all healthcare costs related to the injuries sustained in the accident. This includes emergency room visits, hospitalization, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and any ongoing or future medical treatments.
- Lost Wages: Compensates for income lost while recovering from injuries. If the injuries impact the victim’s ability to work in the future, compensation may also include loss of earning capacity.
- Pain and Suffering: Addresses the physical pain and emotional distress resulting from the injuries. This non-economic damage compensates for the discomfort and trauma experienced by the victim.
- Emotional Distress: Specifically compensates for psychological impacts such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD, which can result from traumatic incidents on unsafe premises.
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Provides compensation for the victim’s inability to enjoy hobbies, activities, and daily routines they participated in before the accident.
- Punitive Damages: In cases where the property owner’s negligence is found to be particularly willful or egregious, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the defendant and deter similar future conduct. However, these are less common and subject to specific legal criteria.
- Rehabilitation Costs: Covers expenses related to physical therapy, counseling, and other rehabilitation services needed to aid the victim’s recovery.
- Property Damage: If personal property was damaged as a result of the incident (e.g., broken glasses, damaged clothing), victims can be compensated for repair or replacement costs.
- Wrongful Death and Funeral Expenses: In cases where a premises liability incident results in death, the victim’s family may pursue compensation for funeral and burial costs, loss of the deceased’s future earnings, and loss of companionship.
How long do I have to file a premises liability claim in Georgia?
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for filing a premises liability claim is generally two years from the date of the injury. This time frame is established under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) § 9-3-33, which applies to personal injury claims, including those arising from injuries on someone else’s property due to negligence.
It’s important to note that if a claim is not filed within this two-year period, you may lose the right to seek compensation for your injuries through the court system. However, there are exceptions and specific circumstances that might alter this deadline, such as claims against government entities, which have their own set of notice requirements and shorter deadlines.
How can a lawyer help with my premises liability case?
A lawyer can provide crucial assistance in a premises liability case by offering expert legal guidance, representing your interests, and working to secure the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Here’s how a lawyer can help:
- Evaluating Your Case: A lawyer can assess the details of your incident to determine if you have a viable premises liability claim, considering the specifics of the property where the injury occurred, the nature of your injuries, and the applicable laws.
- Identifying Liable Parties: Your lawyer can help identify all potential liable parties, which might include property owners, tenants, or maintenance companies, depending on who had control over the property and was responsible for its safety.
- Gathering Evidence: An attorney will gather and analyze evidence to support your claim, including accident reports, medical records, witness statements, and photographs of the accident scene. They may also work with experts in fields such as accident reconstruction or medical care to strengthen your case.
- Understanding Laws and Regulations: Lawyers are knowledgeable about state laws and local regulations that apply to premises liability cases, including statutes of limitations for filing a claim, comparative negligence laws, and specific codes related to property maintenance and safety.
- Calculating Damages: Our experienced lawyer can accurately calculate the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other losses you have incurred, to ensure you seek adequate compensation.
- Negotiating with Insurance Companies: Lawyers are skilled negotiators who can deal with insurance companies on your behalf. They will strive to secure a fair settlement that covers all your damages, countering any attempts to minimize your claim.
- Litigating Your Case: If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiation, your lawyer will be prepared to litigate your case in court. This involves filing a lawsuit, conducting discovery, presenting evidence, and arguing your case before a judge or jury.
- Providing Peace of Mind: Dealing with the aftermath of an injury can be stressful. Having a lawyer handle the legal aspects of your case allows you to focus on your recovery.
Because the rules surrounding the statute of limitations can be complex and subject to exceptions, it’s advisable to consult with a premises liability attorney as soon as possible after an accident. Our experienced attorney can provide guidance on the appropriate deadlines and ensure that your claim is filed timely, protecting your right to compensation. Get in touch with our team for free consultation.