Articles Posted in Premises Liability

IciclesWhile Georgia may not see much snow, we do get plenty of ice. We tend to worry primarily about ice when behind the wheel of our car, but it’s important to remember that ice can lead to falls and very serious injuries. Cuts, scrapes, and bruises may not require much treatment, but some falls result in broken bones, concussions, and other injuries that can require surgery and time off of work. In those cases, you may be entitled to compensation from the property owner for negligence, but it’s important to understand how to make your claim.  


Principles of Premises Liability

Whether or not a property owner should be held liable for someone else’s injury is typically determined by a negligence standard. Most people understand negligence to mean careless or reckless behavior. In the context of premises liability, a property owner is negligent when he or she fails to maintain the property according to a standard of ordinary prudence under the circumstances. For example, a property owner could be held liable if someone fell on a staircase that was the main entry to the building and in obvious need of repair. So, the questions that typically need to be answered in this scenario are as follows:

slip-up-709045_1920-300x200While most slip and fall accidents bruise nothing but our pride, some falls can result in serious injury. Property owners owe a duty to their guests and other visitors to ensure that their property is safe and free from hazards. In the event that the property owner negligently maintains his property causing someone to be injured, the property owner may be held liable for the victim’s medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses.  

But what if you can’t tell who owns the property? This issue can be somewhat complicated when a slip and fall injury occurs at a condominium or homeowners association.  

Condominiums

A simple Google search turns up three reports of construction site accidents for the month of August: one involving a GDOT employee in Atlanta, another at a Georgia Water and Power site, and a third where three workers were injured at another power plant in Madison County. We all know construction sites are dangerous, but we don’t often consider how dangerous they are – both for the workers, and the public at large.  

Premises Liability and the General Public

There are numerous hazards on any given construction site – broken and uneven pavement, open pits, holes, and unstable structures, all of which could cause serious bodily injury. Construction companies, therefore, owe a duty to the public to ensure that the work site does not pose a hazard to passersby and the general public. As a result, construction companies are obligated to post signs warning of potential hazards, such as “keep out,” “authorized personnel only,” and “do not enter.” In addition, they must keep the site secure by means of fencing, barriers, locked gates, and other means from preventing entry. Construction sites are especially attractive to children, and so particular attention must be paid to keeping them out.

It’s no secret that Americans love shopping. “Retail therapy” is one of our favorite pastimes. In addition to recreational shopping, how much time do you spend at the hardware store or shopping for groceries? When you add it all up, we spend a lot of our time at retail shopping locations.  

But what happens if you’re injured when you’re out shopping? Slip, trip, and fall accidents happen every day. If you have been injured in a fall at a retail store, there are some important things you need to know.  

The Retailer’s Duty to You

If you have fallen when you were on someone else’s property and are injured, you could be entitled to ask for compensation for your injuries and other losses. Personal injury attorneys refer to these as “slip and fall cases.” Even though slip and fall cases are less common than cases arising from automobile accidents, they can result in injuries that are every bit as serious. These injuries can result in thousands of dollars in medical bills and have a significant impact on your quality of life. If you’ve fallen and are in pain, you should get checked out by your doctor or another medical professional as soon as possible if you haven’t already done so.  

The attorneys at Slappey and Sadd have years of experience in handling slip and fall cases. We have helped many of our clients recover compensation for the common injuries listed below.  

Visible Superficial Injuries

A “slip and fall” case is one in which a person is injured when they fall on another person’s property. If this has happened to you, it’s possible that you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries and other losses. This isn’t as easy as it seems, and there are some pitfalls you want to be aware of and avoid.

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is basically a law that limits the period of time that you can file a lawsuit. There are different statutes of limitations for different kinds of cases, and these vary by state. Failing to file your lawsuit within the specified time period will almost certainly result in your lawsuit being dismissed by the court. As a result, it is essential that you know what the statute of limitations may be for your case and exactly when it expires. You might need a lawyer to work with you on this, as it can be more complicated than it appears.

The pest control company Terminix will pay more than $9 million in criminal fines tied to their use of a banned pesticide that sickened a Delaware family who was on vacation in the US Virgin Islands in 2015. The US Department of Justice says Terminix was sentenced earlier this week after admitting to using a pesticide called methyl bromide at 14 locations, including the St. John resort where the Esmond family was vacationing. Terminix will pay $8 million in fines and $1 million in restitution to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The company will also perform community service.

The EPA Found Traces of the Illegal Substance

The incident occurred in 2015 while the family was on vacation at the Sirenusa resort on St. John when two employees of the local Terminix fumigated the villa below theirs on March 18 with methyl bromide, which is not approved for residential use. After the family became ill, the Environmental Protection Agency found traces of the lethal gas in their villa. The exposure was so significant inside the treated unit that 6 weeks after the family fell ill, dangerous amounts of methyl bromide were still being detected inside the rental villa, according to EPA documents.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is reportedly looking into the oversight of a father-son team that was conducting the hazardous operation of moving a gas meter at a Minneapolis school earlier this month when a natural gas explosion caused part of the building to collapse, killing two people. The blast occurred at Minnehaha Academy, a private Christian school in Minneapolis, on August 3rd, just several weeks before school was due to start back. The two victims of the explosion are Ruth Berg, a receptionist who had worked at the school for 17 years, and John Carlson, a part-time custodian and alumnus of the school.

The explosion occurred at about 10:30 AM when contractors working on the building frantically warned of a gas leak. The subsequent explosion collapsed walls, buckled floors, ignited fires, and knocked people off their feet outside the building. Emergency responders and school employees fought fires and climbed through debris to bring people to safety. About eight people were rescued from the building in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, but two remained missing. Berg’s body was found early in the afternoon, and Carlson’s body was found six hours later, both in the rubble near an exterior door.

City records show that the father-son duo that the NTSB is investigating were working for contractor Master Mechanical, which was issued a permit on June 7th for “gas piping and hooking up meter” at the school’s address. The contractor was hired to move a gas meter from inside the school building to outside the school as part of gas company CenterPoint Energy’s plan to move meters outside for easier access. Master Mechanical has been cited twice for workplace violations in recent years, including a violation related to failing to protect an employee from falling in 2010 and a paperwork violation in 2014.

The general rule of premises liability for landowners is that landowners owe visitors to their property a duty to keep them safe from unreasonable risks of injury. This rule does not only apply to landowners, however; it also applies to occupiers (namely tenants) of real property. So what happens if someone is injured in an apartment building, where there are two potentially responsible parties–the landlord and the tenant? § 44-7-14 of the Georgia Code spells out when the landlord is responsible and when the tenant is responsible:

Having fully parted with possession and the right of possession, the landlord is not responsible to third persons for damages resulting from the negligence or illegal use of the premises by the tenant; provided, however, the landlord is responsible for damages arising from defective construction or for damages arising from the failure to keep the premises in repair.

In light of O.C.G.A. § 44-7-14, the question of liability turns on the issues of where in the building the accident occurred and whether the tenant was aware of the danger. In most cases, landlords are liable only for injuries that occur in the common areas of their buildings or that are the result of hidden defects in occupied dwelling units.

A Chipotle restaurant in Loudon County, Virginia temporarily closed its doors on July 17 due to multiple reports that several of its customers had become severely ill after eating there. The closure sent the company’s stock price down more than six percent. The reports stated that the customers experienced repeated symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and fever. Several of the afflicted customers claim that they were diagnosed with norovirus when they visited their doctors. This latest norovirus outbreak has renewed food safety concerns tied to Chipotle, as the company suffered a similar rash of food poisoning events nationwide in 2015.

Norovirus Symptoms and Prevalence

Norovirus is the leading cause of illness from contaminated food in the United States, with about 50% of all food-borne illness being caused by norovirus. Foods that are commonly involved in outbreaks of the illness are leafy greens, fresh fruits, and shellfish, but any food that is served raw or handled after being cooked can be contaminated. The virus can easily contaminate food because it is very tiny and infective. It only takes a very small amount of virus particles (as few as 18) to make someone sick. Food can get contaminated with norovirus several ways, including when:

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