On October 21, 2019, the Georgia Supreme Court issued an important decision that protects the rights of injured people in Georgia.
What happened in this case?
In Langley v. MP Spring Lakes, LLC, an apartment complex resident filed a personal injury lawsuit against her landlord and apartment complex arising from injuries sustained in a trip and fall in the common area of the apartment complex on March 3, 2014. The statute of limitation for personal injury in Georgia is generally two years from the date of when the injury occurred. Although Georgia law gives someone two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit, the landlord snuck language into the lease that tried to shorten this time period to only one year.
The attorneys for the apartment complex tried to get the case thrown out of court by arguing that the one-year limitation period for bringing legal actions prevented the injured person from suing, even though the lawsuit was filed within the two-year statute of limitations. The trial court granted the motion stating the resident had to file a lawsuit within the one-year time limitation provision in the lease.
The plaintiff and her attorneys appealed the decision to the Georgia Court of Appeals who upheld the ruling by the trial court. This was a big win for residential landlords seeking to minimize their legal exposure to lawsuits from their residents. However, after a challenging fight by the Plaintiff’s lawyers and the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed that decision.
Why is this important?
Had the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the rulings, this case could have had a major impact in your ability to bring a premises liability claim against a landlord. Had it become the law in Georgia, landlords would have been able to enforce time limiting provisions in residential leases to shorten the time to bring a claim from two years to one year. Additionally, contractual restrictions on the ability to bring injury claims would have certainly shown up in other contexts.
What are my rights today?
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident or were the victim of negligent security on the premises of your apartment or condo complex, you generally have two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit against your landlord. There are specific instances in which the statute of limitation may be paused or even shortened for a period of time.
It’s important to consult with a personal injury attorney with experience in premises liability claims and litigation to understand and be informed of your rights as you prepare to pursue a claim.