Appellate Court Finds in Favor of Landlord in Deck Collapse Case

Earlier this month, a Georgia appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit brought by several tenants and their guests against the landlord that owned the home where the injuries occurred. Ultimately, the court determined that although the injuries occurred on the landlord’s property, the plaintiffs failed to meet the heightened burden required to establish liability against an out-of-possession landlord.

Back PorchThe Facts of the Case

The landlord purchased the home back in 1987. Shortly after the purchase, the landlord hired an independent contractor to replace the rear deck. The home was rented without incident until 2010.

Around the time when the plaintiffs moved into the home, the landlord went to the property to replace a few of the boards on the rear deck. Evidently, some of the boards were stained, and others had been charred by previous tenants. The landlord conducted a visual check of the deck and testified that everything seemed fine.

A year after the tenants moved in, they hosted a barbecue for their daughter. During the barbecue, the deck broke away from the wall, and part of the deck fell to the ground. Several people on the deck at the time fell to the ground and were seriously injured. The injured parties filed a premises liability lawsuit against the landlord.

Landlord Liability

Generally speaking, those who invite others onto their land must make sure that the premises are reasonably safe. However, when a tenant enters into a contract with a landlord, that general rule is modified. Specifically, a landlord can only be liable for injuries that occur due to defects in the premises that were present at the time the lease was signed or for injuries that occur due to a landlord’s failure to repair something that he had agreed to fix.

The Court’s Decision

The court ultimately determined that the plaintiffs could not establish either of the two bases of liability against the landlord. First, the court explained that the landlord could not be liable for the construction of the deck because he had used an independent contractor to build the deck. Second, the court explained that the landlord was never notified that the deck was in poor condition or that it needed to be repaired, so he could not be held liable under a failure-to-repair theory. As a result, the plaintiffs’ case against the landlord was dismissed, and they will not be permitted to seek compensation for their injuries.

Have You Been Injured on the Property of Another Party?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured either in a home that you rent or in a slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a premises liability lawsuit. The standard courts use to evaluate claims depends on the parties involved as well as their relationship to each other. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have decades of experience assisting their injured clients with seeking the compensation they deserve. Call 410-654-3600 today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

More Blog Posts:

Court Applies “Natural Accumulation” Rule in Affirming Dismissal of Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, February 23, 2017

Court Finds that Recreational Use Statute Protected City in Lawsuit Stemming from Baseball Game Injury, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, March 28, 2017

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