Georgia Court Determines Steep Stairway Without Handrail May Constitute Hazard in Recent Premises Liability Case

Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability case involving a woman who fell while exiting the defendant church after a funeral. The court was tasked with determining whether the plaintiff’s allegations were sufficient to survive a defense motion for summary judgment, based on the allegation that the defendant had no knowledge of the dangerous condition. However, since the court concluded that the lack of a handrail may have constituted a dangerous condition, and there was evidence to show that the defendant had knowledge of the lack of a handrail, the court concluded that summary judgment was not appropriate.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was attending a funeral at the defendant church. After the services, the plaintiff began to leave out the front door where she had entered. However, the deacon told her to exit out the back door.

As the plaintiff was leaving out the back door, there were two steps. The plaintiff testified that the steps were dark and steep, and she could not see how many there were. As she tried to navigate her way down the steps, she fell, resulting in serious injuries. The plaintiff also testified that she tried to reach for a handrail as she fell, but one was not installed.

The pastor testified that he was aware that the steps were steep and narrow, and he had discussed the possibility of the steps being a hazard with other members of the church. He also testified that he was aware there was no handrail, but it did not occur to him that the lack of a handrail could be a safety hazard. He admitted that the church could have maintained the steps in a safer condition.

The church moved for summary judgment, arguing that the church was not aware of the dangerous condition. The court rejected the church’s argument, finding that the testimony of the pastor was sufficient to establish knowledge under the circumstances. The court explained that narrow, steep stairs without a handrail may constitute a dangerous condition. Furthermore, the court noted that discussions between the pastor and other members of the church showed that the church was aware of the hazard. The court also noted that there was no evidence that the plaintiff had any knowledge of the hazard at the time of her fall.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated team of Georgia personal injury lawyers at McAleer Law has the experience and skill necessary to successfully bring your case. We have represented hundreds of clients over the years and provide a strong form of client-centered representation. Call 404-622-5337 to schedule your free consultation with an attorney today.

See More Posts:

Georgia Supreme Court Dismisses Defendant’s Summary Judgment Challenge in Recent Premises Liability Opinion, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, October 18, 2017.

Court Excludes Key Witness at Trial Due to Plaintiff’s Failure to Identify Witness Before Trial, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, September 27, 2017.