First, we hope everyone is keeping safe from the slick, rainy conditions outside! Today, we will continue our discussion on Premises Liability in Georgia by talking about the types of knowledge an owner/occupier must have to be liable in negligence.
How Can I Prove Premises Liability for Hazardous/Dangerous Conditions?
An invitee can recover damages in a slip and fall if she proves two things: (1) that the owner/occupier had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard, and (2) that despite the exercise of ordinary care, the invitee lacked knowledge of the hazard due to actions or conditions within the owner/occupier's control. Cocklin v. JC Penney Corp., 674 S.E.2d 48 (Ga. Ct. App. 2009). Absent knowledge of the dangerous condition, there can be no causation (an essential element to make out a claim in negligence).
Failing to use reasonable care in inspecting premises can give rise to constructive knowledge where the owner or occupier had an opportunity to discover the dangerous condition and to remedy it. This was the case in Valentin v. Six Flags Over Georgia, L.P., 286 Ga. App. 508, 510-11 (2007) where the appellate court found that Six Flags breached its duty by failing to conduct a reasonable inspection that would have allowed for discovery and remedy of an alleged unsecured mat and mildew hazard.
Thus, when the owner/occupier knows or should know about a dangerous condition on the premises, a plaintiff may likely have an actionable claim despite the defense of assumption of risk (which will be discussed in tomorrow's post).
Contact an experienced Georgia attorney to discuss any possible claims you may have.