Property owners have a duty to ensure the safety of the public when visiting their property. This includes business owners, homeowners, landlords, retailers, property managers and commercial property owners (for example, those who own stores or malls). These entities must keep their properties reasonably safe for use by tenants and customers/patrons.
In a Clayton County slip and fall lawsuit (premises liability suit), the injured party has an obligation to prove that the property owner's negligence was the proximate cause of the injuries sustained. Additionally, the victim must show that the owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and the owner neglected to remedy the problem by making repairs or appropriately issuing warnings to protect the public from the dangerous situation. The property owner will attempt to show that the injured party did not exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would under similar circumstances.
Georgia law states that homeowners and commercial property owners must exercise reasonable care to keep a property safe for any "invitee" who approaches, exits or is present on the property. According to Georgia statute § 51-3-1,
Where an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.
In the statute, "approaches" would include exterior property areas such as landscaping and adjacent areas where patrons would be reasonably expected to pass. Sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, stairs and elevators are required to be safe and properly maintained.
Georgia courts have also held that "keeping the premises and approaches safe" includes providing appropriate security and the minimum required fire protection mechanisms. Patrons who have been victims of criminal acts have held owners liable when adequate security was not provided.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, call a Clayton County premises liability attorney at Shane Smith Law at (980) 246-2656 and ask to schedule a free legal consultation.