Georgia Court Upholds Residential Lease Clause Limiting Amount of Time Tenant Had to File Personal Injury Lawsuit Against Landlord

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability case, dismissing the plaintiff’s claims against the defendant due to the fact that the plaintiff waited too long to file her case. In deciding the case, the court had to consider whether a clause in the residential lease between the two parties that limited the amount of time the plaintiff had to file a lawsuit against the defendant was enforceable. Ultimately, the court concluded that the clause was enforceable, and thus, the plaintiff’s case was time-barred.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff slipped and fell after stepping on a curb that crumbled when she stepped on it. The curb was located in a common area in the apartment complex where the plaintiff lived. Approximately two years after she fell, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant corporation that owned and operated the complex.

Prior to moving into her apartment, both the plaintiff and a representative of the defendant signed a residential lease agreement. Contained in that agreement was a clause whereby the plaintiff agreed that any claims against the defendant would be brought within one year. The normal statute of limitations for a personal injury case in Georgia is two years. The defendant argued that the lease agreement was binding and that the plaintiff was required to have brought her case within one year of her injury.

The Court’s Decision

The court ended up agreeing with the defendant that the time-limiting clause contained in the lease was enforceable against the plaintiff. Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case, finding that it was time-barred. The court explained that under Georgia law, parties are able to freely contract around certain default rules, such as statutes of limitations. In fact, the court noted that, had the lease extended the statute of limitations, that too would have been enforceable.

The plaintiff also argued that the clause in the lease did not apply to personal injury actions because it did not specifically mention this type of case. However, the court noted that the language in the arbitration clause indicated that it applied to “all” causes of action. Thus, as a result of the court’s decision, the plaintiff’s lawsuit was determined to be filed too late, and she will not be able to recover damages for the injuries she sustained in the slip-and-fall accident.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of accident, including a Georgia slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Georgia personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at McAleer Law Firm have decades of experience helping victims and their families obtain the compensation they deserve. We aggressively pursue compensation in all kinds of Georgia personal injury and wrongful death claims, including slip-and-fall accidents. Call 404-622-5337 to schedule your free consultation today.

See More Posts:

Georgia Court Affirms Teacher’s Immunity in Recent Wrongful Death Lawsuit, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, March 14, 2018.

Georgia Court Issues Another Opinion Discussing the State’s Recreational-Use Statute, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, May 23, 2018.