According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about one in every five people that experience a fall sustain a serious injury. Falls are especially serious when it comes to older Americans ages 65 or older and children ages 0 to 19. The CDC estimates that over three million elder Americans are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries each year, and about 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. With respect to children, falls were the leading cause of nonfatal injuries from 2000 to 2006, according to the CDC. These falls resulted in an estimated 2.8 million emergency room visits for children during that time period. Normally, a fall is just an accident, but a slip and fall caused by a business or land owner is often considered negligence and is covered under Georgia’s premises liability laws.
Premises liability cases are covered under the umbrella of personal injury law in Macon and occur with a consistent degree of regularity in Georgia and the United States. For example, a study was conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) that analyzed over 12,000 civil trials from 75 of the largest counties in the U.S. in 2001. Approximately 110 of these case were from Fulton county. Premises liability cases had the second highest number of trails out of all of the tort cases analyzed with the highest being car accidents. So, given the commonality of premises liability cases, it is important for you to understand some of Georgia’s unique premises liability laws.
Premises Liability Laws in Macon, GA
The foundation of Georgia’s premises liability laws are established under O.C.G.A. §51-3-1. This statute indicates that an owner or occupier of land that induces people to come on their premises by implied or direct invitation is liable for damages caused by a failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the property safe.
Premises liability laws apply to all owners of residential and commercial land and are designed to hold land owners accountable for unsafe buildings and structures. Typical examples of premises liability cases include slip and fall cases, elevator accidents, falling merchandise accidents, etc. However, there are exceptions to this statute one of which involves trespassers.
Premise Liability Laws for Trespassers in Macon
Remember, O.C.G.A. §51-3-1 deals specifically with individuals who are invited on a land owner’s premises, and the invitation can be direct, such as you inviting someone to your home, or implied, such as a business that serves the public. However, this does not include individuals who are not invited. In fact, the Georgia legislature took this concept a step further by establishing O.C.G.A. § 51-3-3, which indicates that a land owner has no duty of care to a trespasser. However, O.C.G.A. § 51-3-3 does prohibit a land owner from purposely injuring a trespasser.
Premises Liability Awards and Settlements in Macon, GA
The damages that can be awarded to you in a premises liability claim are the same as any other negligence case. You can recover compensatory damages for things like lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, etc. The amount of damages you incur as a result of the property owners negligence will influence the amount you can recover in a settlement or award by a jury.
In the study conducted by the BJS in 2001, plaintiffs prevailed in premises liability trials 42% of the time. Moreover, the recovery statistics of the 522 plaintiffs who prevailed in the cases analyzed by the BJS are as follows:
- The median recovery of prevailing plaintiffs was $59,000
- 22.9% of the prevailing plaintiffs recovered over $250,000
- 9.1% of the prevailing plaintiffs recovered one million dollars or more in damages
In cases where a property owner’s actions rise to the level of gross negligence, you may be able to seek punitive damages from the property owner or business. Punitive damages can substantially increase the amount of your recovery in some cases. For example, of the cases included in the 2001 study, punitive damages were awarded in eight cases with a median punitive damage award amount of $33,000. However, in order to be successful, your personal injury lawyer must demonstrate through clear and convincing evidence that the land owner’s actions demonstrated willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, or a presumption of conscious indifference to consequences of their actions, which is why punitive damages are only awarded in some of the most egregious cases.
Premises Liability Cases in Macon
A premises liability incident can do long-term severe damage to your health and finances, which is why hiring a personal injury attorney to help you through this stressful time is so important.