Georgia Premises Liability Basics: Part I - The Duty of Care

January 30, 2013
By Betts & Associates

Let's say you've recently suffered from a slip and fall accident at a Georgia business. Then, you're probably wondering how and what you can recover for your injuries. During the next few days, this blog will uncover the basics of Georgia premises liability.

Trespasser, Licensee, or Invitee?

Whether you can recover from an owner or occupier of land in Georgia depends on your classification as a trespasser, licensee or invitee. Landowners and occupiers of land owe different duties of care to each respective class; thus, it is important to establish your classification in any premises liability case.

A licensee is a person who (1) is neither a customer, servant, nor trespasser; (2) does not stand in any contractual relation with the owner of the premises; and (3) is permitted, expressly or impliedly, to go on the premises merely for his own interests, convenience, or gratification. O.C.G.A. § 51-3-2(a); Sands v. Lindsey, 314 Ga. App. 160, 723 S.E.2d 471 (2012).

An invitee is one who is induced by express or implied invitation to come onto an owner's property. The typical invitee is a customer at a store but can also include employees of the owner to perform work on the property. Invitees may lose their status as invitees and become licensees if they exceed the scope of their invitation on the premises.

Duty Owed.

Let's say you're an invitee - what duty is owed to you by the owner/occupier on the premises?

In Georgia, an owner or occupier of land is liable to its invitees for injuries caused by its failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe. Anderson v. Canup, 731 S.E.2d 786 (Ga. Ct. App. 2012).
This is basically a duty of ordinary care. And, though an owner or occupier is not an insurer of an invitee's safety; the law does require that he use such diligence toward making the premises safe as an ordinary prudent person would in such ways as he or she would be accustomed to use the premises. O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1. Kouche v. Farr, 730 S.E.2d 45 (Ga. Ct. App. 2012).

Common carriers and innkeepers owe a duty of utmost care, higher than the duty of ordinary care, to protect their passengers and patrons from injury. Hotel chains, bus, elevator and escalator companies fit into this category.

Stay tuned to find out more about premises liability basics or contact an experienced Georgia attorney to discuss any possible claims you may have.