Dark dumpster in road...

by Anonymous

It was a dark January night and I was returning from dinner. It was around 8:00 pm. I wanted to show my boss my new house under construction. He followed in his car. It was a public road and phase four of the neighborhood development. I turned left off of Street A, onto Street B and almost immediately hit a construction dumpster.

It caused front end damage to my car and my air bags deployed. There were no street lights, or warnings of a dumpster in the lane of traffic. It was a black dumpster with no cones, lighting or reflectors.

I had the car towed. The next day I reported it to my car insurance and went to the doctor for neck pain. After several supplements by the car insurance company they declared it a total loss.

I still have a pay off balance on the vehicle. I decided to bring it to the attention of the builder. They submitted it to their insurance and said their insured, the builder, had no negligence.

What are our legal options? I believe the builder, dumpster company or someone is responsible. Who is responsible for our property damage? How can I get compensation for my vehicle? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Dark dumpster in road...":

Anonymous (Georgia):

From the facts you present, it appears you have a legitimate negligence claim against not only against the developer, but also against: the owner of the property (if different), the company which picks up the dumpster, and even the bank which is financing the development.

The development was obviously open to the public. You say there were no signs, pylons, or other physical deterrents warning of the danger presented by the dumpster. As a result, the rule of "premises liability" likely attaches.

Under premises liability, property owners and their authorized agents have a legal duty to keep their property, or property over which they have control, free of dangerous defects or conditions which may cause undue harm or injury to those persons legally upon the property.

For the property owner to be liable, the developer, etc. must have known, or should have known, leaving the dumpster in the street and failing to have the area sufficiently lighted constituted a dangerous condition. In this case, that imputed knowledge is clear.

That failure constitutes a breach of the legal duty set out under premises liability. Because that breach resulted in property damage to your car, the property owner, the company which picks up the dumpster, and even the bank which is financing the development may share liability.

The State of Georgia has one of the highest small claims court jurisdictional amounts in the United States. Small Claims Courts in Georgia, referred to a "Magistrates Courts," can hear cases up to $15,000.

If, after contacting the property owner, you aren't able to convince him or her to pay for the replacement of your car, you can go to the Georgia Department of Consumer Protection and file a lawsuit. To do so will not require an attorney. You can consider suing the developer, the property owner (if different), the dumpster company, and the bank.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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