Commonly Asked Questions

What is “premises liability” law? 
Premises liability is the body of law that determines the responsibility of a property owner for injuries suffered by others while on his property.

 

Under what circumstances is a property owner responsible for injuries incurred on their property? 
Generally, a property owner is responsible for injuries on the property if the owner was “negligent“. A property owner is negligent if the property owner breached a duty of care owed to all person’s on their property.

 

 What duty of care does a property owner have? 
This will often depend on whether the person on the property was a business invitee, a social guest or a trespasser. A business invitee is on the property by invitation and usually for mutual economic benefit. A social guest is on the premises by invitation and not for any economic benefit. A trespasser is on the premises without permission. Generally, property owner’s duty of care is the highest with a business invitee while the lowest duty of care to a trespasse.

 

How will it be determined that I have a case?

 

If the following can be proved, you may be able to file a successful lawsuit:

  • The property owner was “negligent”, which means that the property owner breached the legal duty owed to the injured individual
  • There is causation, meaning that the property owner’s specific acts of negligence caused the injuries
  • There are substantial damages involved in your case.

What does “causation” mean?

 

Causation means that the injured party must establish a direct connection between the negligent acts of the property owner and the injuries and damages they are claiming.

 

What damages are recoverable in a premises liability case?

 

Generally, a plaintiff will be able to recover all economic damages incurred resulting from the occurrence. Many times non-economic damages are also awarded (i.e. pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, inconvenience, etc.).

 

What are economic damages?

 

Normally economic damages will include medical care, hospitalization, ongoing treatment programs, loss of income, the costs of hiring others to perform normal household duties that the injured person can no longer perform, and the loss of the injured person’s services to his or her spouse

 

Are punitive damages awarded in premises liability cases?

 

Punitive damages serve to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar conduct. Most jurisdictions require proof of misconduct beyond ordinary negligence before punitive damages are awarded. It would need to be shown that the property owner acted with “reckless disregard” of a known danger. Proving this is often difficult.

 

Can a property owner be liable for criminal acts which occur on their property?

 

In many jurisdictions, a property owner can be liable for criminal acts committed on their property if he knew, or had reason to know, that a criminal act was likely. For example, if a property owner knew that their was a fire in one of his apartments and failed to evacuate the building, he may be liable to those who are injured.

 

What should I do immediately following a car accident?

 

If you are not severely injured, collect all pertinent information from the other drivers – driver’s license numbers, address, telephone numbers, insurance card information, etc. Keep a daily journal beginning with the date of the accident to document all physical and mental injuries, as well as document your view of the accident. Notify the arriving police officer of the events of the accident that you can recall.

 

If I am partially responsible for an accident, can I still make a claim?

 

In a no-fault state, you and the other driver will collect from your own insurance companies. In a fault state, whether you can make a claim depends on whether the state applies contributory negligence or comparative negligence rules.

 

Under contributory negligence rules, you will not recover if you were partially at fault.

 

Under comparative negligence, you can recover a portion of your damages if you were partially at fault. For example, if you were 40% at fault, then you would recover 60% of your damages.

 

The person who hit me has no insurance coverage. What do I do?


 

Report the accident to your insurance company. Your insurance policy most certainly has what is called “Uninsured Motorist” coverage, which protects you in cases exactly like this. Your premium, by the way, does not and cannot go up because you make a UM claim.

Should I take the settlement my insurance company is offering me?

 

You should not take any settlements offered by an insurance company without first speaking with an experienced Georgia auto accident lawyer. Insurance companies typically offer a minimal amount of money in return for your signature stating that you will not sue them. Never take an insurance check without first consulting an attorney.

 

What issues will I face in making a claim for my injuries sustained in an auto accident?

 

The three categories of issues that typically arise in a tort claim after an automobile accident are:

  • Liability – who is at fault and to what degree
  • Damages – injuries or losses that were caused by the accident
  • Insurance Coverage – what the insurance company will pay for after a wreck.

 

I did not feel pain at the scene and refused medical treatment. Now, a few days later I am in pain. What should I do?

 

You should immediately consult your medical provider regarding any pain, discomfort or possible injuries from a car accident, even if you think they may be only minor injuries. Even if you did not complain of injuries at the scene of the car accident, you may be entitled to payment of your medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of earnings capacity, and emotional distress due to personal injuries. You should consult an experienced Georgia car accident attorney to discuss whether you need representation on your claim.