Previous Georgia Law
Under Georgia law, a landowner has a nondelegable statutory duty to keep its premises and approaches safe for a customer or guest (lawyers refer to such persons as “invitees”). OCGA § 51-3-1. Georgia law states: “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.”
Analysis of Georgia premises liability law begins with Alterman Foods v. Ligon, 240 Ga. 620 (1980). Alterman Foods established a two-prong test. To recover, injured parties had to show (1) the landowner had actual or constructive knowledge of hazard, and (2) the injured party was without knowledge of the hazard (or for some reason attributable to landowner was prevented from discovering the hazard). After Alterman and for the next 17 years, the conduct of the injured party was the focus. Few slip and fall cases injury cases survived summary judgment. A summary judgment is when a court rules as a matter of law for the landowner; this means the judge and not a jury decides the case.
Recognizing that the pendulum had swung too far in favor of landowners, the Georgia Supreme Court, in Robinson v. Kroger, found that “routine issues of premises liability, i.e., negligence, and the plaintiff’s lack of ordinary care for personal safety[,] are generally not susceptible of summary adjudication.” 268 Ga. 735,748 (1997) (“an invitee’s failure to exercise ordinary care for personal safety is not established as a matter of law by the invitee’s admission that she did not look at the site on which she subsequently placed her foot”).
In part two, we will discuss current current slip and fall law in Georgia.