If you've suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one, an Atlanta injury lawyer can help answer your questions on how to win your personal injury claim in a Georgia personal injury court!
At S. Burke Law we are here to help give answers to these important questions. Our Frequently Asked Question database covers the common questions you may have regarding what to do after a serious accident, how to file a claim in personal injury court, and tips on how to win your personal injury claim. When researching information on the legal process following a serious accident you want legitimate advice from a source you can trust.
When you’ve suffered serious losses and damages from an accident due to the negligence of another you aren’t alone. An Atlanta injury lawyer from our office is always available to answer additional questions not addressed on our page. Contact us for a FREE consultation and get the answers you need to seek compensation for your losses!
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I Was Struck by Falling Merchandise at a Store. Can I Sue?
If you were struck by falling merchandise at a store, you may be able to sue the store. Other parties can also be responsible.
How Merchandise Can Fall on a Customer in a Store
There are endless possibilities for how goods can fall on a person in a store. Here are some common scenarios:
- A store employee improperly stacked the items on the shelf. In this situation, the merchandise shifts and falls because an employee did not place the items on the rack correctly. Crooked or leaning stacks of boxes or cans can fall over on a shopper and cause injury.
- Someone installed the shelves improperly. If display shelving units were not put together correctly, the shelves can collapse or fall over on customers. Any merchandise on the shelves can also land on shoppers when the shelves fall.
- The shelves were inadequate for the weight of the merchandise. All shelves have weight limitations. Let’s say that a store had shelving units designed for lightweight items, like facial tissue and napkins. An employee loaded up the shelves with car batteries which were much heavier than the shelves could hold for the long-term. A shopper strolling through the store’s aisles sustained severe injuries when the shelves gave way and dumped dozens of car batteries on her.
- Someone moved previously stacked items on the store’s shelving. Another shopper pushed other items aside to reach what he wanted. In doing so, he left a stack of goods teetering precariously. These items could fall on another shopper.
What We Have to Prove to Hold the Store Liable for Your Injuries
Georgia law says that the landowner is responsible for injuries to people if all three of these things are true:
A Dangerous Condition Existed on the Property
An employee noticed a shelving unit was broken but did not have time to remove all the merchandise from the shelf.
The Owner Knew or Should Have Known About the Hazard
The employee notified the store manager immediately about the broken shelf. To prove this criterion, we can talk to the employee and get their testimony. We can also look through any notes the store manager or owner made about needing to fix the shelf.
The Owner Did Not Take Reasonable Steps to Correct the Situation
The store manager told the employee that they would remove the merchandise and fix the shelf, but they never did. The merchandise on the shelf fell as you walked by, causing you to suffer serious injuries.
What to Do if Merchandise Falls on You in a Store
If you suffered injuries after being struck by falling merchandise, your first priority should be getting medical care. You will increase your odds of a positive medical outcome with prompt professional treatments and evaluation, but the benefits do not end there. We will use the medical records as proof that you sustained your injuries from the accident in the store and to establish the severity of the harm you suffered.
If you are able, report the accident to the store manager. Do not let your embarrassment keep you from filing a report. This could be the crux of your injury claim. Ensure they write up a report and issue you a copy. Write down their name and contact information. You may also want to discuss your case with any eyewitnesses. If you had a friend with you at the time of the incident, have them write down anything they saw.
Once you have received medical care, talk with a personal injury lawyer who handles premises liability injury claims. At S. Burke Law, we help people who sustain injuries on the property of other people. Call us today at 404-842-7838 to learn more about how a premises liability lawyer can help with your case.
Can I Sue If I Fell Down the Stairs?
If you fell down the stairs on someone else’s property and sustained an injury, you need to know if you can collect compensation to pay for your losses and the pain and suffering you experienced. Depending on the circumstances, you might be able to sue the property owner. Sometimes third parties can face legal responsibility.
When a Landowner is Liable in Georgia
Having legal responsibility for people who sustain injuries on property you own is premises liability. A landowner has to pay for losses people suffer if all three of these elements are present:
1. There was a dangerous condition on the property.
2. The landowner knew or should have known about the hazard.
3. However, the owner did not post adequate warnings or take corrective action to repair the situation.
How Careful the Owner Must Be Depends on Why You Were on the Property
Georgia law imposes a different duty on landowners based on the status of the injured person.
Trespassers Are Nearly On Their Own
Landowners cannot “booby trap” their property to intentionally harm people who trespass. For example, if a trespasser loses his footing and falls down the stairs, the landowner is not liable. On the other hand, if the property owner sets a trap to push trespassers down the stairs, the owner is responsible for the injuries.
Licensees Have More Protection Than Trespassers
If you came onto the property solely for your benefit or as a social guest, you are a licensee. An example of a licensee is someone who walks into a grocery store to use the bathroom, but not to shop for groceries.
In terms of legal protections, a licensee is sort of a hybrid between an invitee and a trespasser. The landowner does not have to safeguard licensees as much as invitees. The law does not allow property owners to commit willful or wanton injury to licensees.
Let’s say the grocery store’s bathroom for customers to use was on the first floor. The store manager was angry about non-customers using the facilities, so he told employees to direct them to the basement bathroom, and he poured slippery oil on the stairs. The owner will be responsible for any injuries resulting from these willful and wanton actions.
Invitees Have the Highest Level of Protection
If you enter the premises for any lawful purpose at the express or implied invitation of the landowner, you are an invitee. For example, a shopper in a store is an invitee. Also, an employee of the electric company who comes on the property to read the meter is an invitee.
Georgia law requires the property owner to use ordinary care to keep the premises and approaches safe. The owner of a two-story restaurant, for example, must use ordinary care to make sure the stairs are safe for customers.
To satisfy this duty, the owner must monitor the stairs regularly for hazards like spills or objects which could trip patrons. When an employee discovers a problem, the restaurant should warn people, prevent them from using the stairs, and promptly wipe up the spill or remove the object.
What Happens if a Third Party Created a Hazard Which Caused Your Fall
The property owner is the most likely party to have to pay compensation for your injuries, but if someone else contributed to your fall through negligence or an intentional act, you might be able to get some damages from them as well. Here are but a few examples of the many ways a third party can be responsible for your injuries:
- Someone pushed or bumped into you (intentionally or accidentally).
- Someone made the stairs slippery (for example, spilled a drink).
- Someone installed carpet or another surface on the stairs incorrectly.
Whether Your Negligence Affects Your Compensation
When someone gets hurt, often more than one person is at fault. Let’s say you had some wine at dinner before you fell on the restaurant stairs. If your blood alcohol level was high enough to contribute to your falling, the judge might assign a portion of the negligence to you. This rule is comparative fault.
You can still collect damages for your losses, but the law will reduce them in proportion to your fault. For example, if your damages were $100,000, and you were responsible for 10 percent of the total negligence, the rule of comparative fault will cut $10,000 from your recovery.
How to Get Legal Help for Falling Down the Stairs
Premises liability involves multiple parties—landowners, employees, and third parties. Evaluating these cases can become complicated. You do not have to navigate your premises liability claim on your own. Call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838, to line up your free consultation with a premises liability lawyer. We will sort out the issues at no cost to you and with no obligation.
Can You Sue for Premises Liability?
You may be able to sue for premises liability if you suffered an injury on someone's property. You must show that you had a right to be on the property and that the owner failed to correct and warn of the dangerous condition that caused your injury.
Get help after an injury on another’s property. Call Sheryl Burke at 404-842-7838.
The following is an overview of the criteria required to sue for premises liability.
Types of Premises Liability Cases for Which You May Sue
Some common types of dangerous conditions present on private, commercial, or public properties that cause injuries include:
- Water on the floor could cause a slip and fall
- An uneven sidewalk could cause a trip and fall
- A dog bite or attack
- A sudden stop on an elevator
- Falling merchandise from a store shelf
- A collapsing step on a staircase
- A criminal attack like assault and battery
You Must Be an Invitee or Licensee in Most Cases
In most cases, you must be either a licensee or invitee on the property to sue the property owner for premises liability.
Examples of visitors who may qualify as visitors or licensees include:
- A shopper at a store
- A patron eating at a restaurant
- An attendee at a sports event, a concert, or a movie
- A customer at a bank or gas station
- A patient at a hospital, a doctor's office, or a nursing home
- A social visitor to a private residence
- A visitor to an office building for a business meeting
Trespassers generally cannot sue for injuries except for under limited circumstances, such as if the property owner intentionally harmed them or if the trespasser was a child injured by an unsecured attractive nuisance, like a swimming pool.
You Must Prove the Property Owner Was Negligent
To hold the property owner liable, you must prove that the property owner knew or should have known about the hazard and took no action to repair it or warn of it in a reasonable amount of time.
For example, if you slipped and fell in a store, the owner must have known or should have known that the dangerous condition existed and took no action to clean the floor or warn of the hazard.
If somebody attacks you on someone else’s property, you must show the property owner knew there was a heightened risk of violent crimes in the area, but failed to take appropriate measures to prevent assault and battery, such as hiring a security guard. In that case, the property owner may be liable for negligent security.
Fighting Allegations You Are Comparatively Negligent
Georgia's comparative negligence rule limits the amount you may recover for your injuries if you are partially at fault for the accident.
You may recover compensation even if you were partially at fault as long as your percentage of fault was below 50 percent.
And if you were less than 50 percent at fault, your damages are reduced proportionately to your percentage of fault. For example, if you were 40 percent at fault, you may recover only 60 percent of your damages.
How might the defendant or insurance company blame you for the accident?
- You were talking on your cell phone or otherwise distracted when you should have been paying attention to your surroundings.
- You walked into a part of the store where customers were not permitted.
Whatever the other side’s argument, you must present evidence that establishes the property owner’s negligence and reduces your percentage of fault. Get help establishing fault and liability and fighting allegations that you are partly at fault.
Call 404-842-7838 for legal help.
Recovering Compensation for Your Injuries on Another's Property
You may be able to recover compensation for our economic and noneconomic damages, such as:
- Medical expenses (including future medical expenses and the cost of rehabilitation).
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity (the difference in what you earned before the accident and what you can earn after the injury)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of the ability to engage in activities you enjoyed before the accident)
- Mental anguish
Get Help from S. Burke Law After an Injury on Another’s Property
You must file your suit timely. Georgia law requires you to file a premises liability suit within two years of your injury.
Have you suffered an injury on someone's property? Contact a premises liability attorney at the Law Offices of Sheryl L. Burke at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation.
How Much Is a Negligent Security Settlement?
There is no standard value for a negligent security settlement. However, several common factors can affect the value. These factors may include:
- The severity of the injuries you suffered and the treatment necessary
- The incident itself
- Whether your injuries kept you from working
- Whether you played a part in the incident
- Whether the area was known for crime
The Severity of Your Injuries
Negligent security can lead to several different types of incidents, such as:
- Sexual assaults
All of these incidents can lead to serious injuries. The more severe your injuries, the higher your potential settlement in many cases.
For example, a violent sexual assault may require medical care, psychological treatment for anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, and anti-anxiety medication, among other things.
The Incident Itself
The severity of the incident can affect how much your case is worth. For example, a verbal assault that occurred because of a lack of security will likely be worth less than a physical assault.
Whether Your Injuries Kept You from Working
The longer your injuries kept you from working, the higher your settlement may be. For example, you were the victim of a carjacking. The offender caused you moderate injuries that kept you out of work for a week. You may recover less than someone who was brutally assaulted and could not work for months.
Whether You Played a Part in the Incident
If you contributed to the incident, your settlement will likely decrease. For example, say you were at a bar when an intoxicated man punched you in the face. Instead of walking away and getting help, you fought back. You suffered a traumatic brain injury and several broken ribs in the fight. The fight occurred (and was not stopped) because of a lack of security.
In this case, you could hold the bar liable for your injuries. However, the bar may dispute liability and claim that you played a part in the incident, so it is not 100 percent liable for your injuries. Per Georgia’s comparative negligence laws, your percentage of liability will decrease your settlement.
Whether the Area Was Known for Crime
In some cases, a judge may want to make an example of your case and award punitive damages to deter other property owners from failing to take necessary precautions.
For example, say you live in an apartment complex in which a rash of robberies took place. The gate at the front of the property was broken at the time, allowing the robbers to gain entry. Even after the robberies, the property owner failed to fix the gate. You become the victim of a robbery in which you suffer severe injuries. You decide to sue the apartment complex for negligent security.
The judge or jury may award you punitive damages to punish the property owner for failing to fix the gate.
Establishing Negligent Security
Premises liability dictates that property owners have a duty to keep their visitors safe. This is known as “duty of care” and typically relates to keeping the physical conditions of property safe.
In some places, this duty of care means having physical security or security measures present to keep visitors safe. These places include:
- Hotels and motels
- Bars and nightclubs
- Apartment complexes
- College dorms
- Movie theaters
Elements of a Negligent Security Claim
Your negligent security claim must include the following elements. We will help you prove it:
- Duty of care: The property owner owed you a duty to keep the property safe. The property owner does not owe you this duty if you were trespassing.
- Breach of duty: The property owner failed that uphold that duty. For example, the manager of a hotel noticed someone trespassing on the grounds. Even though they received calls complaining of the man trespassing, they failed to remove a trespasser from the grounds.
- The breach led to your injuries: The hotel failed to remove the trespasser. He assaulted you in the hallway.
Call an Atlanta Negligent Security Lawyer
We believe you deserve compensation for the injuries you suffered due to negligent security. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to take on a large company like a hotel. That is where S. Burke Law comes in.
We are not afraid to take on any company big or small. We will fight to prove your case and to protect you from the at-fault party and its insurance company. And because negligent security lawyer Sheryl Burke worked as an insurance adjuster before opening her firm, she knows how insurance companies approach these cases and the tactics they use to reduce the settlement to which you are entitled.Call us at 404-842-7838 to learn more. The consultation is free.
What Do I Have to Do to Win a Premises Liability Claim?
To win a premises liability claim, you need to prove the property owner’s negligence caused your accident to occur. To do so, we must:
- Establish the owner’s responsibilities to welcomed guests
- Establish that the property owner failed to fulfill their responsibilities
- Identify the injuries and damages you suffered
- Draw a connection between the property owner’s negligence and your injuries to establish liability
If you or a loved one recently suffered an injury on another party’s property, give S. Burke Law a call. We can help you determine whether you might have a case and fight to recover the compensation to which you are entitled. The initial consultation is free: 404-842-7838.
Establishing the Owner’s Responsibilities to Guests
Knowing what the owner’s responsibilities are to guests is the basis of premises liability laws in Georgia. Broadly, property owners must keep their property safe to anyone welcome on their property.
This expectation is known as duty of care. A duty of care is a crucial component of premises liability laws and establishes the property owner must provide a minimum level of care to anyone using their property.
This means, for example, that a property owner must remove or repair anything deemed a potential hazard on their property. A duty of care also requires property owners to notify their guests of potential dangers. In some instances, having adequate security is also a proprietor’s responsibility.
Identifying How the Property Owner Failed to Fulfill Responsibilities
Knowing what a property owner’s responsibilities are allows you to determine where they may have been lacking. Failing to fulfill these responsibilities is a breach of duty, and factors heavily into your case.
For example, let us say there is a leak in the refrigerator at a supermarket. The supermarket’s management has known about the issue for a few weeks but failed to repair it. If you walk across the floor and suffer a slip and fall injury, this could be a breach of duty, particularly if there was not a visible “wet floor” sign or anything else indicating a dangerous situation.
Another example is negligent security. Certain places, such as hotels, must have adequate security onsite. If a robber breaks into your hotel room while you are sleeping and attacks you because there was not a security guard on patrol, this is also a breach of duty.
To determine whether the property owner failed in their obligation, we must identify whether you are an invitee, licensee, or trespasser. These three categories establish the level of care a property owner owes you.
Identifying Your Injuries and Damages
To win a premises liability claim, you must also establish what damages you suffered. Using the examples from above, just slipping and falling on a grocery store’s wet floor does not automatically give you a legitimate claim or entitle you to damages, nor does a person getting past lax security at your hotel.
To win your case, you must establish that you suffered losses. For example, tearing a ligament or suffering a herniated disc in your slip and fall or suffering physical injuries or emotional anguish in your hotel attack would satisfy this requirement.
Establishing a Connection Between Negligence and Your Damages
Identifying a property owner’s failure to fulfill a duty of care and proving you suffered injuries just creates some of the evidence needed to win a premises liability case. To win your claim and collect damages, you must prove causation. Causation establishes that a proprietor’s breach of duty caused your injuries.
The property owner’s legal team will fight tooth and nail to prove that your injuries resulted from something other than the proprietor’s negligence. This is where S. Burke Law can be a huge help. Our team will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your case as well as your health history while proving causation. We will also gather any evidence necessary for your situation.
Call an Atlanta Premises Liability Attorney
Premises liability laws are complex. Different factors and circumstances contribute to every case. But knowledge of those nuances and the ability to draw connections between breaches of duty and the injuries you suffered is invaluable to your case.
The personal injury team at S. Burke Law wants to help you get all the compensation to which you are entitled. We know that it can be stressful to be facing expensive medical bills and time off work, so we offer free consultations and our services on a contingency basis.
This means we recover no fees unless we win your case. Let us see how we can help you. Call us at 404-842-7838 today.
What Is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is part of Georgia’s tort law that holds property owners responsible for injuries that occur on their property. Specifically, premises liability outlines a property owner’s responsibilities when guests are on their premises.
Georgia’s Premises Liability Statute
Georgia’s premises liability statute allows claimants to hold property owners liable if they suffer injuries on their property.
The statute states: “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.”
If you or a loved one suffered an injury on someone else’s property, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law. Our firm has dedicated itself to representing the citizens of Atlanta in personal injury cases. We offer free consultations in which we examine the details of your case and provide honest advice. Call us at 404-842-7838 for your free consultation.
Duty of Care in Premises Liability Claims
Duty of care is a crucial component of Georgia’s premises liability laws. A duty of care outlines the legal basis for negligence in premises liability cases. The duty of care requires property owners to maintain safe conditions on their property to the best of their ability. And it also requires them to notify guests of any potential hazards on the premises.
Like most personal injury cases, premises liability claims require the claimant to prove negligence. If you bring your case to S. Burke Law, we will work to prove the following to establish the property owner’s negligence:
- The property owner knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
- The property owner’s negligence is the reason your accident occurred.
- The property owner did not notify guests of the present danger or hazard.
- There is a direct connection between the hazardous condition present and your injury.
While establishing the above points aids in ultimately winning your premises liability claim, it is not the only consideration. An essential factor in premises liability claims is why the injured party was on the property. This matters because while duty of care requires property owners to maintain safe conditions, this duty does not apply to everyone that steps foot on a piece of property.
Types of Visitors on a Property
Visitors use a property for a variety of reasons. And the reason you are on another party’s property factors heavily into premises liability and the duty a property owner has to you. Georgia recognizes three types of visitors to a piece of property:
Invitees in Premises Liability Cases
Like the name suggests, invitees are guests the property owner invited onto the property. Invitees might include:
- Shoppers at a store
- A contractor or repairman on the property
Licensees in Premises Liability Cases
Licensees are also welcome on the property, but they differ from invitees in how and why they are there.
Licensees use the property but do not provide any financial benefits to the property owner. An example of this would if you were at a mall “window shopping” rather than buying a product. Though licensees are welcome on the property, the property owner did not extend an explicit invitation onto the property. So, the standard duty of care is lower for licensees than invitees. Georgia requires property owners to be wantonly negligent to be liable for a licensee’s accident.
Trespassers in Premises Liability Cases
Trespassers are people the owner did not invite onto the property. Because they are not welcome on the property, property owners do not owe a duty of care to trespassers.
However, property owners cannot willfully injure a trespasser (e.g., a homeowner cannot set a trap for someone he knows trespasses on his property).
The only case in which property owners do hold liability for trespassers is if there is an attractive nuisance on the property. Attractive nuisances are objects like swimming pools and abandoned appliances that might attract children who do not understand the dangers of trespassing on someone else’s property.
Call an Atlanta Premises Liability Lawyer
No one expects to suffer an injury while going through their usual day-to-day routine. But unfortunately, it happens more often than we think. That is why our firm takes on the task of representing Atlanta’s personal injury victims. If you or a loved one suffered an injury on someone else’s property, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law. Our free consultations give you an opportunity to gather the information you need before filing a claim.
Call us at 404-842-7838 for your free consultation to learn more about how a premises liability lawyer can help you.
Who is Liable for a Swimming Pool Drain Accident?
In most cases, a property owner is usually liable for a swimming pool drain accident. However, a manufacturer, maintenance company, or even the victim may share liability. Below, we discuss when these parties may be liable for a swimming pool drain accident.
How Premises Liability Laws Affect Fault for a Pool Drain Accident
Georgia’s premises liability laws require property owners to maintain safety and quality standards on their property. Georgia’s premises liability law states:
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.
This essentially means that property owners are liable for accidents occurring on their property by anyone invited to the property. So, if a friend invited you to her house for a pool party, this would be an express invitation.
And if you visited a public pool during its hours of operation, this is an implied invitation to the premises. In both these cases, the property owner — either the homeowner or the pool owner — is liable for your swimming pool drain accident injuries. However, property owners do have one layer of protection.
Trespassers Are Not Entitled to Injury Compensation
If someone was trespassing and suffered a swimming pool drain injury, the property owner would not be responsible. Property owners are only responsible for people they invited onto their property. So, someone who suffered injuries in a pool drain accident afterhours would not be able to claim damages even if the drain was dangerous or broken.
But there is one exception to this rule for trespassers: if the trespasser was a child, the property owner may be liable under the attractive nuisance doctrine.
An attractive nuisance is a manmade object that a child might find attractive. Examples of attractive nuisances include trampolines, abandoned vehicles, discarded refrigerators, and swimming pools.
Young children do not fully understand how trespassing on someone else’s property could be dangerous. For this reason, Georgia’s attractive nuisance laws compel property owners to make trespassing more difficult. That includes installing self-locking gates that meet certain specifications.
If a property owner fails to take measures to prevent children from trespassing, he or she could be liable for any injuries a child suffers in a pool drain or other type of swimming pool accident.
A Maintenance Company’s Liability for A Pool Drain Accident
If a company tasked with maintaining a pool, whether public or private, determines a pool drain is broken, it has a duty to let the owner know. If the maintenance company knew the drain was broken but did not alert the owner, it could be liable for any injuries that result.
A Manufacturer’s Duty to Produce Safe Products
A manufacturer must only release safe products into the market. If a company manufactures a faulty or dangerous product, it can be liable for any injuries that result from its use. Pool drains that use an older design can cause serious injuries or even death.
When the Victim Might Be Liable for Pool Drain Accident Injuries
We discussed a trespasser’s liability for their own injuries in an above section; however, a victim might also be liable if he ignored signs that warned swimmers of a dangerous drain or did something else that caused his injuries.
Recovering Compensation for a Swimming Pool Drain Accident
If we are able to prove another party was liable for your or your child’s pool drain accident injuries, you may be entitled to any of the following:
- Medical bills: This can include any immediate care costs and any that might be required in the future, e.g., a near drowning accident can cause severe brain damage, this might require round-the-clock care for the rest of the victim’s life
- Lost wages: If you needed to take off work to recover, you are entitled to compensation for those losses.
- Lost earning capacity: If your injuries caused you to work a lesser-paying job or retire completely, or if you had to quit your job to care for your child who suffered injuries, you are entitled to the money you would have made.
- Pain and suffering: Dealing with a near drowning or losing a child in a drowning accident can cause much physical and emotional pain and suffering. You deserve compensation for it.
Call an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney
Our consultations are free. Call us today: 404-842-7838.