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Premises Liability: What Is Ordinary Care?

Georgia, like many other states, has codified the standard of care that landowners owe to their invitees. O.C.G.A. §51-3-1 states that “where an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.”

Most premises liability cases come in the form of “trip and fall” or “slip and fall” cases. In order to be successful in a premises liability case the plaintiff must plead and prove that (1) the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard; and (2) the plaintiff, despite exercising ordinary care for his or her own personal safety lacked knowledge of the hazard due to the defendant’s actions or to conditions under the defendant’s control. Actual knowledge by the landowner of the hazard is helpful if it can be proven. However, in most premises liability cases the plaintiff typically relies on their ability to prove constructive knowledge of the hazard. In other words, facts which would lead the a jury to believe that the hazard responsible for the injury would have been discovered if the land owner exercised reasonable or ordinary care. In this context, ordinary care is the care that a reasonable landowner would exercise under the circumstances. This is a question of fact and the court will rely on evidence presented by the parties to make this determination.

Constructive Knowledge is Established by:

  • Evidence that employees were in the immediate vicinity and easily could have noticed and removed the hazard or
  • Evidence that the substance had been on the floor for such a time that (a) it would have been discovered with reasonable care and (b) upon being discovered, it would have been cleaned up had the proprietor exercised reasonable care.

In many cases the issue of negligence on the part of the store owner will come down to whether the store employees were in the immediate vicinity of the hazard and had the opportunity to and means to discover and remove the threat.

Every premises liability case is different so it is critical to consult with an experienced premises liability attorney. When a slip and fall accident occurs on a commercial property quick action is needed to protect your rights. Our law firm will secure surveillance video, witness testimony and other evidence necessary to prove negligence on the part of the landowner. We serve the Atlanta area including, Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Cobb, Clayton, Fayette and Douglas. Contact our law office today for a consultation.