Responsibilities of “In Possession” and Absentee Landlords

Responsibilities of Landlord Premises Liability Personal Injury Attorney Georgia

In Georgia, landlords are required by law to meet certain safety and maintenance requirements. When a landlord negligently fails to keep his premises reasonably safe for use and someone is injured or killed while they were on or near property, they may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit against the landlord. In Georgia, landlord premises liability lawsuits and the recovery of damages depends on whether a landlord is an “absentee” or “in possession” landlord.

What Is an “In Possession” Landlord?

An “in possession” landlord is either a person or entity that occupies the property or otherwise maintains substantial ownership and control over the property, even after it is rented out to a tenant. Reserving the right to periodically inspect the property does not usually constitute being “in possession” of the property.

Responsibilities of an “In Possession” Landlord

A landlord that is “in possession” of a property is usually governed by the stricter standards that apply to property owners. Georgia law states that a property owner must exercise ordinary care to keep a property safe for any “invitee” who approaches, exits, or is present on the property.

An invitee is one who is induced by express or implied invitation to come onto an owner’s property. During the term of their lease, a tenant would be an invitee of the apartment, condominium, or office building where they live or work. Under this standard, the landlord owes a duty of care to keep his premises safe. He is liable for damages when injuries are caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care.

The duty to keep premises safe is not limited to just the construction and maintenance of buildings or other physical structures located on the property. The owner/landlord is obligated to keep outside ramps and stairs, driveways, sidewalks, curbs, and parking lots in good repair. For any lawns, landscaping must also be kept in a safe condition. Additionally, Georgia courts have held that the duty to keep premises safe may also include the obligation to provide adequate security and required fire protection.

What Is an Absentee Landlord?

An absentee landlord is either a person or entity that owns and then rents out property. If the landlord does not occupy the property and does not exercise much day-to-day control over the property, they are considered to be “not in possession” and therefore absent. Simply put, if the landlord does not live, reside somewhere on the property, or access the property most days, they are an absentee landlord.

Responsibilities of an Absentee Landlord

Georgia statute states that when a landlord is not in possession of rental property, his or her liability is limited to those damages from “defective construction” or from failure to “keep the premises in repair.” This is a lower standard of care than would be required if they were in possession of the property.

Defective Construction

An absentee landlord may be liable for defective construction if they:

  • Did the construction work themselves;
  • Directly supervised the construction work; or
  • Had knowledge of the defective construction.

Keeping the Premises in Repair

In addition to construction defects, injuries can also occur when a landlord fails to repair a hazardous condition on the property. In order to be liable for failure to repair, Georgia courts have generally found that the landlord must have had knowledge of the hazardous condition needing repair. If the landlord knew about a potentially hazardous condition and did not take steps to repair it within a reasonable amount of time, the landlord may be found liable for resulting injuries. In some cases, landlords have also been found liable for hazards they should have known about based on performing regular inspections.

For More Information, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC

If you, a friend, or a family member have been injured while on someone else’s property, contact  Joel Williams Law, LLC, to schedule a free consultation by calling (404) 389-1035.

Are There Limits on the Amount of Interest a Litigation Funding Company Can Charge in Georgia?

Personal Injury Cases Litigation Funding Georgia Attorney

There are a lot of questions surrounding how litigation funding works and what interest rates they are allowed to charge. This has been a point of contention over the course of the last few years, with a number of lawsuits and even a class action challenging the litigation funding industry’s interest rates. In October of 2018, the Supreme Court of Georgia decided the issue once and for all.

What Is Litigation Funding?

To understand the question, it is helpful to first understand what litigation funding is. Litigation funding, also known as legal financing, is the process of paying for some or all of the expenses of a lawsuit up front. If the lawsuit is successful, the funder is repaid in full plus interest. If the plaintiff is unsuccessful and does not recover anything, the litigation funder will also receive nothing. Because of the risk involved, the interest rate applied by litigation funding companies can be quite high.

Litigation funding is typically used in cases that are going to require serious resources to prosecute but have a high potential for success. Litigation funding is growing in popularity, but it isn’t a new idea. This type of funding has been legal in the United Kingdom since 1967, and it has been fairly common in most major countries since the early 2000s.

Georgia Law Related to Litigation Funding

In the case of Ruth vs. Cherokee Funding, LLC, a number of Georgia residents that received litigation funding from Cherokee filed suit against the company. The lawsuit alleged that Cherokee had charged exorbitant interest rates that were illegal under state law. Specifically, the suits charged that Cherokee violated:

  • The Georgia Industrial Loan Act (GILA)
  • The Payday Lending Act (PLA)

According to the plaintiffs, the money paid by Cherokee amounted to loans under both PLA and GILA. Both statutes cap the interest rates for loans under a certain dollar amount, which meant that if the courts agreed with the plaintiffs that litigation funding were loans, Cherokee would have been in violation of both statutes. Cherokee’s attorneys, however, argued that the payments were not loans but investments in the outcome of the lawsuit. Georgia law does not contain a limit on interest for investments, so this distinction is critical.

Loan vs. Investment

When the issue came before the Supreme Court of Georgia, the Court weighed whether or not the funds paid out by a litigation funding company were loans or not. In the end, the Court ruled on behalf of Cherokee on both the GILA claim as well as the PLA claim. The Court reasoned that the funds provided by litigation funding companies were not loans under Georgia law because, unlike loans, there was no guarantee that these funds would ever be paid. Because the plaintiffs would not have owed Cherokee anything had the lawsuit been unsuccessful, the Court found that the PLA and GILA did not apply and Cherokee was not bound by their interest rate limits.

While litigation funding is necessary in some cases, in most others it may make more sense to work closely with a Georgia personal injury attorney to ensure that a lawsuit has the resources it needs. To discuss your personal injury claim, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today at 404-389-1035.

What You Should Know About Daycare Liability Insurance in Georgia

Georgia Daycare Liability Insurance Personal Injury Attorney

All too often, accidents result in injuries for kids within Georgia daycares. It’s not hard to understand why, as kids get in accidents frequently. But in some cases, those injuries were directly caused by the negligence of the daycare or its employees. The emotional toll of having an injured child is bad enough, but the financial cost of caring for a severely injured child can be enormous.

With the potential for injury that a daycare carries each day, you might assume that every daycare would be required to maintain liability insurance. Unfortunately, that assumption would be wrong. Here are a few things you need to know to keep your family safe.

Georgia Daycares Are Not Required to Carry Insurance

It may surprise you, but Georgia law does not require a daycare to have an active liability insurance policy in order to operate. The state of Georgia has its own department for early childhood education known as the Department of Early Care and Learning. However, this agency lacks the power to require insurance in Georgia daycare facilities.

The requirements for daycares set out in Georgia law are much more lenient. According to O.C.G.A. § 20-1A-4(9), the authority of the Department of Early Care and Learning is limited to recommending formally in writing to the daycare that it is encouraged to carry a liability insurance policy. There are no consequences if a daycare facility chooses not to obtain a liability insurance policy sufficient to cover all of its clients.

Daycares Without Insurance Must Notify Parents

While they are of little comfort to the parents of a child that is hurt, the Georgia code does have some limited requirements for daycare facilities that decline to carry insurance. According to Georgia law, all daycare facilities that refuse to obtain insurance after receiving the recommendation to do so from the Department of Early Care and Learning must notify the parents whose children attend the daycare of that decision.

The daycare must give notice in two different ways. First, the daycare facility must post a written notice at the daycare in a conspicuous place. The sign must be readily visible for visitors and have letters at least ½ inches tall.

Second, the daycare facility must provide written notice to all parents by mail making them aware that there is no liability insurance policy in effect. The daycare is required to have each parent or guardian sign an acknowledgment of the lack of insurance coverage. The daycare facility must keep this written acknowledgment for as long as the child is at the daycare and for at least 12 months after the child leaves the facility. If the facility doesn’t comply with these notice requirements, they risk a fine of $1,000 per infraction.

A Georgia Injury Lawyer Can Help Obtain Compensation for Your Injured Child

If your child was injured at a Georgia daycare, it is vital that you discuss the situation with an experienced personal injury attorney. If the daycare was insured, an attorney might be able to negotiate with the carrier in an effort to settle the claim. If the daycare wasn’t insured, an attorney might be able to obtain the compensation your child deserves directly from the business. To discuss your case with an experienced Georgia injury lawyer, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, at 404-389-1035 today.

AAA: Dashboard Gadgets Increase the Likelihood of Accidents

Personal Injury Car Wreck Dashboard Gadgets Increase Accidents Attorney Georgia

When it comes to car manufacturers, the newest arms race for marketing a make or model is the inclusion of so-called infotainment systems. These combinations of hardware and software installed in vehicles can give the driver options to send text messages, navigate, or turn on a new podcast. But according to a new study from AAA, these technological advances can be a dangerous distraction.

The study, which was performed by the University of Utah on behalf of AAA, sought to rate 30 different 2017-model vehicles by how much attention their infotainment systems demanded. The participants in the study were between the ages of 21 and 36 years old. During the course of the study, the participants would use voice commands and touch screens to place phone calls, send text messages, navigate, or listen to music.

The study separated the vehicles into four groups based on the overall demand for attention each vehicle required of its driver. These four demand groups were Low, Moderate, High, and Very High. In the end, none of the 30 vehicles were considered to have an infotainment system that had low demand. Out of the remaining three groups, seven required a moderate demand of their drivers, 11 required high demand, and 12 required a very high demand.

The study tracked four activities that diverted driver attention:

  • Listening to the Radio
  • Tuning the Radio or Talking on the Phone
  • Texting
  • Using GPS Navigation

According to the study, merely listening to the radio was the least demanding, but it still involved a low level of demand for the driver’s attention. Changing the radio station or speaking on the phone was the second least-demanding, followed by texting. The study found that attempting to use GPS navigation was by far the most distracting aspect of infotainment systems in the models surveyed.

Researchers found that drivers took their eyes off the road for up to 40 seconds at a time while attempting to operate the GPS navigation system in some of these vehicles. To put that amount of time into perspective, a distraction of only one or two seconds is enough to lead to a collision.

It is easy to blame the addition of screens or even visual technology within windshields, but researchers are quick to point out that even voice-activated controls can be dangerous. The research shows that anything that diverts a driver’s attention from the core function of operating a motor vehicle can lead to an accident.

Contact a Georgia Attorney

Distracted driving has long been a major threat on Georgia roadways. If you suffered an injury in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. Attorney Chase Elleby is an experienced trial lawyer who has obtained substantial settlements and verdicts on behalf of his injured clients. Joel Williams Law, LLC, will evaluate your case for free and accepts cases on a contingency fee basis. That means you won’t pay us anything unless we successfully obtain the compensation you deserve in your case. Joel Williams Law, LLC, is located in Kennesaw, Georgia, but represents injured clients throughout the state. To set up your free consultation, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, at (404) 389-1035.