We all know that accidents can happen at any time, in any place. But in those situations where the accident occurs on someone’s property and it could have been avoided altogether, a personal injury case may ensue.
Stairs can pose a danger of tripping or falling and are often the subject of personal injury actions. Many people trip and fall on stairs —either on someone else’s property, or in commercial properties like malls and shopping stores. When there is some level of negligence involved on the part of the property owner, the injured party may file a personal injury lawsuit.
In today’s post, we will be taking a look at premises liability and stair accidents.
Premises liability is a type of personal injury case that arises when someone is injured on the property (“premises”) of another.
These types of cases can arise in any number of ways, and they encompass a wide range of accidents such as:
- Dog bites
- Slip and falls
- Stair accidents
- Escalator accidents
- Pool accidents
- Amusement Park accidents,
The foundational legal theory for a premises liability case, including staircase accidents, is that the owner of property has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to maintain his/her property in a reasonably safe condition for those who may enter onto it, and he/she cannot create or maintain conditions on his property that are designed to intentionally injure someone.
Because premises liability is a tort founded on negligence, to prevail, an injured plaintiff must prove:
- Causation, and
Establishing the first element of a premises liability cause of action—that of duty—often depends on the victim’s “status.” For example, in Georgia, owners or occupiers of land (i.e., tenants) must exercise reasonable care to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition for “invitees.”
This same duty does not apply to “trespassers.”
So, the question becomes, who is an invitee?
An “invitee” is someone who lawfully uses the premises because he/she was either expressly or impliedly “invited” onto the property. For example, an invitee could be:
- Ticket holders
Georgia’s law specifically requires landowners/occupiers to keep the “premises and approaches” safe for invitees.
Which brings us to staircases.
Premises Liability and Staircases
Stairs are part of the “approaches” to property contemplated in Georgia’s statutory law. Thus, they are a part of the property that an owner/occupier has a duty to maintain and keep in a reasonably safe condition for invitees.
Stairs—whether stationary or moving—can be the subject of a personal injury action because they pose falling risks for many people.
Sometimes people fall on the stairs because of a maintenance issue. Sometimes there may be a building code violation that contributes to the accident. Other times, the person trips and falls simply because he/she just wasn’t paying attention.
Which leads us to what a plaintiff (or injured person) must prove to win a premises liability stair accident case.
To succeed in a premises liability staircase claim, the plaintiff must prove either that:
- the property owner caused the hazard that made the plaintiff trip and fall, or
- that the property owner was aware of the hazard but failed to fix it.
Keep in mind, however, that in Georgia, you can only recover damages for your injuries if you were less at fault than the other party. In other words, if you contributed to your own injuries by not paying attention to your footing for example, so long as you are found to be 49% or less at fault for your accident, you may still recover for your damages.
All personal injury cases are unique and fact dependent. Staircase accidents are no different. There is a lot to consider when it comes to a premises liability case. Which is why, if you have been injured on another’s property, you should consult with experienced personal injury counsel.
Personal Injury Attorneys in Cumming, Georgia.
The personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., are here to help you. We serve clients in Atlanta, and in several counties throughout Georgia, including: Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Paulding County, among others. To find out how we can help you, call us at: 770-888-7707. Or contact us here.