Premises Liability for Homeowners
Premises liability law is a section of law that holds property and business owners legally responsible for dangerous or hazardous conditions that may exist on their property. The laws of premises liability can vary enormously between states, so this information is pertaining to the law as it applies in the state of Georgia, and specifically for homeowners. Atlanta personal injury lawyer, Casey W. Stevens has summarized the law, to make it easy for homeowners to understand. It is important to understand that each case is different regarding whether you can sue a property owner for negligence, depending on the circumstances. If you have any questions about a premises liability case in Georgia, call our office today for a free consultation.Free Consultations – 770-408-6364
When is a Homeowner Liable in Georgia for an Injury Sustained on Their Property?
For homeowners, there are 3 basic types of people who can sue for damages in a Premises Liability case: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. The liability in Georgia differs for each.
Invitees are people who the owner has invited onto their property for a specific purpose that provides a mutually beneficial result to both the property owner and the invitee. A contractor who is performing work for the homeowner would be an example of an invitee because they are there to do a job that the homeowner has requested and be paid for their work. Homeowners in Georgia owe the highest duty of care to invitees. Like all visitors to a homeowner’s property, invitees are required to observe a reasonable amount of care. For instance, if a roofer falls off the roof of a homeowner, the homeowner would most likely not be liable. If the roofer falls due to a deck collapse, because the deck was not properly maintained or secured, then the homeowner may be liable.
A licensee is a person who has entered a property without any contractual obligation to the homeowner – in other words, they are not there for business. A social guest is an example of a licensee. Usually, a homeowner is only liable for “willful or wanton” injury to a licensee; meaning that they were aware of the risk of harm to a guest but did nothing to prevent an injury from occurring. Some of the most common claims filed by licensees are slip-and-fall cases where an injury occurred, and in cases involving injuries sustained from a dog bite. Again, if the visitor was able to clearly see and assess the hazard before the injury occurred, the homeowner may not be liable. Additionally, if a guest slips and falls down the stairs when there was no obstacle or substance causing the fall, the homeowner will not be liable.
Even if a person is on a property without the homeowner’s permission, there is still some limited liability if an injury occurs. For example, a homeowner is not permitted by law to purposefully produce hazards to trespassers (like booby traps) that could result in bodily injury. In addition, once the homeowner is made aware of a trespasser’s presence (or can reasonably anticipate trespassers) then the law requires that the homeowner take reasonable precautions to protect any trespassers from injury. A common example of this is skateboarders in an empty swimming pool. This law usually relates more to juveniles, than to adults.
In cases where an invitee is on the premises, a homeowner can be liable for damages if it is proven that they were aware, or should have been aware, of a hazard, yet did nothing to prevent injury. A poorly lit staircase, failure to promptly or effectively remove ice from walkways (if the hazard was not readily visible to the visitor), or inadequate warnings of hazards on their property, such as holes in the ground, can all cause visitors to the property to fall and injure themselves and the homeowner may be held liable. In addition, homeowners are required by law to take special precautions to prevent injury to visitors on their property from recreational items such as trampolines and swimming pools.
Premises liability cases require compelling evidence to show that the owner of a property was in some way negligent and therefore created a safety hazard. Premises liability cases can be very difficult to prove and expensive to prosecute. Atlanta attorney Casey W. Stevens has handled several property owner liability cases throughout the state of Georgia. If you or a loved one has suffered injury while on someone else’s property due to no fault of your own, call our office today.Free Consultations – 770-408-6364