Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit brought by a woman who was injured when a fallen tree struck her in the apartment complex where she lived. The case presented the court with the opportunity to determine whether the plaintiff’s case was sufficient as a matter of law and should therefore survive the summary judgment challenge filed by the defendants. This case is helpful for South Florida premises liability plaintiffs because it clearly illustrates the elements of a premises liability lawsuit.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was a tenant at the defendants’ apartment complex. One day, during a particularly heavy storm, a tree on an adjacent piece of property was knocked over. As the tree fell, it got caught on the gutter of the apartment building where the plaintiff lived.
The tree remained suspended from the apartment building for some time. The plaintiff reached out to the defendants, asking them to remove the tree, but no action was taken. Ultimately, the plaintiff contacted a fellow resident she knew to also work as a part-time maintenance worker for the defendants.
The plaintiff took the maintenance worker to the site where the tree fell, and the two figured out a way to get the tree down. However, as the tree fell, it struck the plaintiff, seriously injuring her. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the defendants, claiming that the defendants were negligent in maintaining the property.
The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, making several arguments as to why they could not be held legally liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. One of the arguments the defendants made was that the plaintiff had greater knowledge of the hazard posed by the tree than the defendants did, but the plaintiff failed to avoid being injured by the known hazard.
The court, however, disagreed, finding that it was not the suspended tree itself that caused the plaintiff’s injuries but the maintenance worker’s pulling on the tree to free it that caused her injuries. Although the plaintiff contacted the maintenance worker for assistance, the court held that she did know what his plans were. Thus, the court held that, to the extent that the maintenance worker may have been an employee of the defendant, summary judgment was not appropriate.
Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled South Florida personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have an extensive knowledge of Florida personal injury law and decades of collective experience handling a wide range of claims. To learn more, and to speak with a dedicated South Florida personal injury attorney, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Determining Damages in South Florida Car Accidents, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published September 21, 2017.
Nursing Home Claims Privilege in Face of Plaintiff’s Discovery Request, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 5, 2017.