Apportionment: Tort Reform Limits Full Recovery By Victims With Certain Premises Liability Claims By Apportioning Blame And Recovery Awards

Categories: Personal Injury

Georgia Victim Recovery Awards Attorneys

A DeKalb County woman was raped in her Kensington Manors Apartment unit right off Memorial Drive around 5:30 in the morning on March 5, 2009.  The assailant broke into the woman’s apartment and said to her, “Don’t do anything crazy,” before forcing the victim onto her bed and assaulting her.  The victim sued the complex’s owner and management company in a premises liability action for failing to provide adequate security, failing to keep the premises in safe and proper repair, and for maintaining a private nuisance.  Four years later in 2013, a DeKalb County jury found that the victim was 39% responsible and the assailant was 10% responsible for the rape.  Due to the jury apportioning (assigning) liability to the victim and the assailant, the victim will only receive 51% of the damages awarded to her.[1]

 

Traditionally, “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.”  O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1.  This means that you have a reasonable expectation of safety when you enter onto a property.  The extent of your safety and the owner’s duties depend on whether you are classified as an Invitee or Licensee.  Particularly when the property owner has superior knowledge or knows of the propensity for third party danger, the owner has a duty concerning providing adequate security.  This danger would include propensities for a third-party assailant on his property.  Premises liability cases may include:

 

  • a third party assault on your person,
  • a slip and fall accident,
  • an electrocution
  • or a myriad of other hazards on the property

 

Whether your injuries stem from any of the above, your injuries and damages could be catastrophic.  Often times the damages to the victim of a premises liability case includes at least the following:

 

  • serious injuries,
  • medical bills,
  • rehabilitation costs
  • lost wages
  • Other mental and physical injuries

 

As if the minefield of issues could not get more complex, the state legislator has codified a law that allows property owners that fail to provide adequate security on their property to avoid paying injured victims a full recovery by apportioning all or any portion of the liability to the assailant.[2]  This statute was upheld as constitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court in the case of Couch v. Red Roof Inns, 291 Ga. 359, (2012).  By allowing the property owner to pass along all or a part of the liability to the assailant, the victim may not receive a full recovery.  Even when only a portion of the liability is apportioned to the assailant, the assailant is likely incarcerated for the attack and/or has no money (judgment proof).  In these apportionment premises liability cases, where the property owner has failed to provide adequate security, it is the attorney’s job to convince the jury to limit the apportionment that is assigned to the assailant in order to maximize the victim’s recovery.

 

To ensure you receive the full recovery you deserve, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney.  For your consultation, call Atlanta Serious Injury Attorney, Terance Madden, at 1-877-WIN-LAW-USA or 1-877-946-5298 or 770-978-6711.   Visit your law firm at our website:  www.tmaddenlaw.com.

T. Madden & Associates | www.tmaddenlaw.com | 1-877-WIN-LAW-USA | 770-978-6711

 


[1] Fault Assigned to Rape Victim, Kathleen Baydala Joyner, Daily Report, (October 9, 2013), http://www.dailyreportonline.com/PubArticleDRO.jsp?id=1202622703428&thepage=1

[2] O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33