Court Discusses the Superior/Equal Knowledge Doctrine in Recent Personal Injury Case

Earlier this month, a Georgia appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case that required the court to discuss what it termed the “superior/equal knowledge doctrine.” The court held that while a plaintiff must generally prove that the defendant had superior knowledge of the hazardous condition causing the plaintiff’s injuries, that was not the case, given the specific circumstances of the plaintiff’s injuries.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a delivery driver for a fuel company. One of his customers was the defendant gas station. This particular gas station had a strict rule that required delivery drivers to manually measure the fuel level both prior to filling the tanks as well as afterwards. In order to manually measure the tank, the driver must do so in the parking lot of the gas station. The plaintiff told the gas station manager several times that measuring the tanks in this manner was dangerous, but the manager insisted that it be done. In fact, several of the plaintiff’s colleagues had been fired on the spot for failing to comply with the manager’s directives.

On the day in question, the plaintiff was run over by a third-party customer when he was measuring the tank after he had filled it. The plaintiff then filed a premises liability lawsuit against the gas station, arguing that it should be responsible for his injuries because it negligently required that he follow dangerous protocols. In response, the gas station argued that the plaintiff knew the risks involved but continued to comply with the measuring requirements.

The Courts’ Decisions

The trial court granted the gas station’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the plaintiff had superior knowledge of the dangerous condition and placed himself in a position to be hurt nonetheless. However, on appeal, the decision was reversed.

The appellate court explained that normally, in order for a premises liability plaintiff to survive a defendant’s motion for summary judgment, he must show that the defendant was the one with superior knowledge of the dangerous condition. However, here, the court explained that the plaintiff was presented with the “untenable choice” of losing his job or maintaining his safety. The court was persuaded by the fact that the plaintiff and others in his situation had complained about the dangers involved, but the gas station did nothing in response.

Have You Been Injured on Another Party’s Property?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries. Depending on the facts surrounding the accident, one or more specialized legal doctrines may apply to your case. It is imperative that the attorney you select to represent you be experienced in these cases and knowledgeable in the various legal doctrines that may become relevant in your case. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated premises liability attorney at the Maryland-based law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our time unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Plaintiff’s Pre-Trial Destruction of Evidence in Product Liability Case Does Not Result in Sanctions, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published January 3, 2017.

An Attorney’s Role in Ensuring a Personal Injury Verdict Is Not Unfairly Reduced, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published January 17, 2017.

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