Georgia Premises Liability Basics: Part III - Assumption of the Risk

February 1, 2013
By Betts & Associates

Even if you can make out the elements for a claim of premises liability (that is, you are an invitee, an owner/occupier owed you a duty to keep premises safe and/or to inspect and that such duty was breached because the owner/occupier knew or should have known of the danger, and that breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of your injury), there may still be another hurdle for you to recover...

The most common defense owners/occupiers raise in claims of negligence based on premises liability is the defense of assumption of the risk. In order to establish the defense of assumption of risk, defendants must show that a plaintiff (1) had actual knowledge of the danger; (2) understood and appreciated the risks associated with such danger; and (3) voluntarily exposed himself or herself to those risks. Admiral Ins. Co. v. State Broad. Corp., 314 Ga. App. 648, 650, 725 S.E.2d 789, 791 (2012), cert. denied (July 2, 2012).

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Often patrons at amusement parks are said to have assumed the risk when they understand and appreciate risks associated with park rides and voluntarily expose themselves to the risk by going on the ride. However, this defense cannot overcome situations in which there are static conditions on the ride or premises nor can a judge grant summary judgment on issues such as how closely a particular retailer should monitor its premises and approaches.

Many questions regarding the defense of assumption of risk must be heard by a jury because of the factual issues involved. "[W]hat retailers should know about the property's condition at any given time, how vigilant patrons must be for their own safety in various settings, and where customers should be held responsible for looking or not looking are all questions that, in general, must be answered by juries as a matter of fact rather than by judges as a matter of law." Williams v. GK Mahavir, Inc., 314 Ga. App. 758, 762 (2012), cert. denied (June 25, 2012), reconsideration denied (Mar. 13, 2012) quoting American Multi-Cinema v. Brown, 285 Ga. 442, 445(2) (2009).

Contact an experienced Georgia attorney to discuss any possible claims you may have.