Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued an opinion in a premises liability case in which the court tweaked previous case law because of the unjust result that would have occurred had the law been applied as previously interpreted. In the recent case, the court determined that the general rule that where a plaintiff in a premises liability case must prove that the defendant had superior knowledge of the hazard when the plaintiff is presented with an “untenable choice”, a relaxed interpretation may be appropriate.
The plaintiff was a fuel delivery driver who would occasionally make deliveries to the defendant’s gas station. The defendant required all fuel delivery drivers to manually measure the level in the tanks prior to filling them, as well as after they had been filled. The plaintiff had told the defendant that the post-fill measurement was unnecessary because the tank had a computerized system that displayed the current level of fuel. The plaintiff also expressed concern that manually measuring the tank was dangerous, because it had to be done in the middle of the station’s parking lot and customers often came close to hitting him.
During one delivery, the plaintiff was manually checking the tank levels when he was struck by a customer’s car. The plaintiff subsequently filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant. In support of his claim, the plaintiff provided evidence that he and other fuel delivery drivers had expressed concern over manually measuring the fuel, and that several delivery drivers whom had refused to manually measure the fuel were fired on the spot.
In response to the plaintiff’s claim, the defendant argued that the plaintiff had equal knowledge of the dangerous condition but nonetheless put himself in the position where he was ultimately injured. The court explained that normally a plaintiff’s equal or superior knowledge of the hazard that caused their injury would prevent the defendant from being liable; however, under these facts, the plaintiff was presented with the “untenable choice” of choosing safety or his job.
The court explained that when a plaintiff is presented with this untenable choice, the plaintiff cannot be said to have assumed the risk of the dangerous activity. Thus, the plaintiff’s case should be permitted to proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.
Have You Been Injured in a New Mexico Premises Liability Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured on the property of another, and you believe that your injuries were the result of the land or business owner’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a New Mexico premises liability lawsuit. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the Fine Law Firm have decades of collective experience helping clients receive compensation for their injuries in a wide range of personal injury cases, including those arising from slip-and-fall accidents. Call 505-889-FINE to set up your free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Appellate Court Affirms Trial Judge’s Decision to Dismiss Case Due to Violation of Statute of Limitations, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 3, 2017.
Appellate Court Declines Opportunity to Apply Government Immunity in Bicycle Accident Case Against City, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 11, 2017.