I recently represented the family of a little boy who was badly burned
by a hot light that was negligently placed in the middle of a sidewalk
next to a playground. The light, not designed for that type of application,
had been inadvertently left on all night. With his grandmother just a
few feet behind him, the toddler ran over to put his hands on the lens.
Immediately he screamed – his tiny hands were instantly burned.
He was rushed to the hospital. Thankfully, he recovered full use of his
hands after long weeks of bandages and ointments.
Unfortunately, in Georgia, there often is no recourse for families whose
children are injured in public parks.
Under ordinary premises liability law, property owners in Georgia are required
to exercise “ordinary care” in keeping their premises and
approaches safe for someone who was invited onto the property. Failing
to do so can subject a property owner to liability for damages when someone
is injured on their property. A common example of an invitee is a store
customer or business guest.
Unfortunately, the Georgia Recreational Property Act does not provide the
same legal protection. It says that an owner of land who invites or permits
persons to use their property for recreational purposes free of charge,
owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others or to give warning
of a dangerous condition. O.C.G.A. 51-3-22; 51-3-23. Liability is limited
to instances where someone is injured because of the property owner’s
“willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous
condition, use, structure, or activity.”
What was designed as a law in 1965 to encourage individuals and cities
to provide public space for recreation has become a loophole used to neglect
safety issues. The result is that many municipalities are not spending
the time and money necessary to keep our children safe in public parks.
So if you spot a dangerous condition in a public park in Georgia, notify
the city or government officials in charge immediately and make sure you
follow up on the remedy. You may just save a child’s life. Contact
Vaught Law Firm, PC today for representation.