We are a curious lot. Human beings are often tempted to stop and walk around a car or a house that has a “for sale” sign posted. We kick the car’s tires and open the hood. We might even peek in the windows of an obviously vacant house if we are in the market for a place to live. The question is, is our curiosity safe? Not always.
In this matter, a couple of men see a sign advertising lots for sale leave their vehicle to walk around to inspect a vacant lot. One since of the men is interested in buying lots upon which he can place mobile homes.
In an overgrown area of the lot, one man spots what appears to be a bicycle handlebar and goes closer to get a better look. While he is poking around in the tall grass with his foot, he comes into physical contact with an electrical wire carrying 7,200 volts. He is severely injured.
Later, the other man testified that he heard a large boom, saw a flash of light and turned to see his companion flying through the air. The injured man was rushed to a local emergency room where he was then airlifted to a burn unit. The injured man sued the electric cooperative that had installed the electric service to the lot alleging that they had negligently left an electrical wire and breached its duty to him as an invitee to the property.
In depositions, the safety director for the electric company testified that he went to the scene shortly after the incident occurred. He testified that there was no junction box or concrete pad in place. He also said that the electric company had a duty to safely and properly install and inspect its electrical equipment. There should have been a pad and a locked junction box in place to prevent the public from coming in contact with the wire. According to his understanding, the condition of the equipment on the day of the incident presented a risk to the public. He conceded that someone coming into contact with a wire carrying 7,200 volts — like the wire with which the plaintiff came in contact — could be seriously injured or killed. He further testified that the electric company bore sole responsibility for inspecting its wires.
Even with that testimony on record, lawyers for the electric company chose to argue that the men were not invited to be on that property and were trespassers. They argued the company had no duty to protect them and made a motion to the court to grant summary judgment in favor of the company.
In what might amaze most of us, the trial judge granted the motion, dismissing the case. The plaintiff appealed.
Fortunately, for this man, after struggling with the semantics involved with whether advertising a place for sale constitutes an “invitation” to enter, the Georgia Court of Appeals found that the trial court erred in not allowing an enlightened jury to decide the case.
Summary judgment is appropriate only when there are no questions of law remaining after discovery. If questions still exist as they did in this case, the matter should be left to the jury, who has heard the evidence, to rule on the case.
In a personal injury case it is the job of opposing attorneys to do everything in their power to protect their clients from suffering the consequences of their negligence. If these lawyers didn’t take every opportunity to snatch victory from the hands of the plaintiffs, they wouldn’t be doing their job.
That’s why it is critically important that you hire an excellent personal injury lawyer if you plan to bring a case to court. At The Millar Law Firm, we only take personal injury cases. That means that we are immersed daily in the difficult-to-navigate waters of negligence law.
Call our offices today and allow us to give you a free case evaluation. After we review the facts in your case, we’ll help you decide how to proceed. Because we do this all day every day, we are in the position of offering you the best advice available.
Make an educated decision about your law suit. Call The Millar Law Firm today.