Cohen & Sinowski
Cohen & Sinowski

The Prior Traverse Rule in Georgia Premise Liability Law

  • Published: August 11, 2023

PartnersIn the realm of Georgia premise liability law, there exists a significant rule known as the Prior Traverse Rule. This rule states that if a victim previously crosses over or negotiates a hazard and then returns to the same area and sustains injuries, they may not be eligible to recover compensation. The underlying reasoning behind this law is that the victim’s knowledge of the hazard is deemed equal to that of the property owner, therefore diminishing their right to seek compensation for their injuries.

Understanding the Prior Traverse Rule

The Prior Traverse Rule is rooted in the concept that when individuals encounter a hazard and consciously choose to retrace their steps, they assume the same knowledge and awareness of the hazard as the property owner. By doing so, they are considered equally responsible for their own safety. This principle aims to strike a balance of accountability between property owners and visitors.

Application of the Prior Traverse Rule

Let’s consider a couple of real-life scenarios to better grasp the application of the Prior Traverse Rule:

Example 1:
Suppose a victim encounters a slippery surface and carefully navigates across it. However, upon returning to the same area, they slip and sustain injuries. Under the Prior Traverse Rule, the victim’s prior knowledge of the hazard may impede their ability to recover compensation.

Example 2:
In another scenario, imagine a property with a known dangerous condition, such as a broken step. If a visitor acknowledges this danger, successfully avoids it, but later decides to step on the broken stair again and gets hurt, the Prior Traverse Rule may undermine their chances of receiving compensation.

To further support the application of this rule, several relevant cases have presented enforceable precedents.

Implications of the Prior Traverse Rule

The Prior Traverse Rule has profound implications when it comes to seeking compensation for injuries. In cases where the rule applies, victims may find themselves unable to recover damages for their suffering and medical expenses. The rule places a burden of responsibility on individuals to exercise caution and take reasonable measures to avoid known hazards.

Critiques and Controversies

While the Prior Traverse Rule serves its purpose in Georgia’s premise liability law, it has garnered some critiques and controversies. One critique revolves around the assumption that a victim’s knowledge of the hazard is equal to that of the property owner. Critics argue that this presumption might neglect certain nuances, such as the property owner’s duty to maintain safe conditions.


Lady justice is blindIn conclusion, the Prior Traverse Rule stands as a pivotal aspect of Georgia premise liability law. It aims to establish a fair balance of responsibility between property owners and visitors. Understanding this rule is crucial for those who have sustained injuries on another’s property, as it can significantly impact their ability to seek compensation.

If you find yourself facing such a situation, it is important to consult a legal professional well-versed in Georgia’s premise liability law. Cohen & Sinowski, a reputable law firm specializing in personal injury cases, offers expert guidance and representation. Contact them today to ensure your rights are protected.


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