The theory of premises liability states that when a Georgia property owner fails to maintain his or her building or land, repair dangerous conditions and/or provide adequate warning for dangerous conditions, the courts may hold him or her accountable for any injuries visitors sustain as a result of the dangerous condition. The most common premises liability claims and lawsuits involve slip and fall injuries. Though premises liability law strongly favors plaintiffs, there are instances in which the courts hold the injured parties accountable for their own injuries.
According to George Code section 51-12-33, which FindLaw briefly outlines, Georgia abides by a modified comparative negligence standard. What this means is that the courts will not prevent a plaintiff from recovering damages for his or her role in an accident, but they will reduce the award amount by the percentage of fault a plaintiff assumes. If a plaintiff assumes 50 percent or more responsibility for the accident, then the courts may bar him or her from recovery.
FindLaw also outlines how courts go about determining fault in slip and fall accidents. The courts will consider several factors, one of which is reasonableness of the property owner’s actions. The judge will look at how long the defect was present before the accident occurred, how often and how well the owner maintained the property and, if the accident was the result of an object left out in the open, was there a legitimate reason for the object having been there. If the property owner’s actions were reasonable, the plaintiff may not have a case.
Two other factors that the judge will consider are the clumsiness and carelessness of the injured party. Did the plaintiff have a legitimate reason for being on the premises at the time of the accident? Was the plaintiff in an area of the property he or she should not have been, or did he or she engage in any activities that would have contributed to the slip and fall (running, jumping, texting while walking)? Would another person of a reasonable nature have noticed the dangerous condition and avoided it? Did the property owner give any warning of the dangerous condition?
If a plaintiff were to answer no to the first question and yes to the latter three, the plaintiff may assume a portion of fault. To recover compensation in such an instance, the plaintiff would have to show that the defendant was more negligent than he or she.