Legal Memorandum: Duty of Reasonable Care in GA

Issue: In Georgia, when does the duty of reasonable care attach when acting gratuitously?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Duty of reasonable care; Acting gratuitously
Jurisdiction: Georgia
Cited Cases: 175 S.E.2d 552; 378 S.E.2d 323; 267 S.E.2d 797; 328 P.2d 527; 135 N.E. 275; 37 Cal. Rptr. 731; 226 Cal. App. 2d 1
Cited Statutes: subparagraph (a) of Restatement § 324A
Date: 08/01/2000

"It is ancient learning that one who assumes to act, even though gratuitously, may thereby become subject to the duty of acting carefully, if he acts at all."  Mull v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 226 Ga. 462, 175 S.E.2d 552, 553 (1970) (quoting Glanzer v. Shepard, 233 N.Y. 236, 135 N.E. 275, 276 (Cardozo, J.).  "One who gratuitously renders services to another . . . is subject to liability for bodily harm caused to the other by his failure, while so doing, to exercise with reasonable care such competence and skill as he possesses."  Id.,175 S.E.2d at 553.  Regardless of whether there is consideration, the issue of whether the acts of an individual constituted due care is a jury question.  Stelts v. Epperson, 201 Ga. App. 405, 411 S.E.2d 281, 282-83 (1991).

Some courts have even allowed expert witnesses to testify to the standard of care that exists for loading materials.  In Fouraker v. Hill & Morton, Inc., 162 Cal. App. 2d 668, 328 P.2d 527, 528-29 (1958), the court qualified an expert who testified that stickers may be necessary to stabilize a load and that "rough lumber needs more securing than smooth lumber."  See also Apodaca v. Trinity Lumber Co., 37 Cal. Rptr. 731, 226 Cal. App. 2d 1 (1964) (discussion on standard of care when loading lumber). 

In Clark, 154 Ga. App. 183, 267 […]

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