When you’re going about your everyday routine whether it be heading to work or enjoying a day at the park with your children, the last thing you expect is to trip over a loose piece of pavement or slip on a slick oil spill and end up in the hospital. When an individual is injured because of a trip, slip, or stumble that results in a fall, we call this type of accident a slip and fall accident.
If a slip and fall injury occurs on someone else’s property, the property owner can be held liable under certain conditions for that injury. Property owners have a duty to keep their property safe for visitors. This includes keeping sidewalks, landscaped areas, and flooring well-maintained. This includes cleaning up spills, removing debris, and clearing away ice and snow after a storm. This also includes fixing broken steps, handrails, gutters, and other areas that routinely need maintenance.
If a property owner fails that duty and does not properly post signs and/or warn visitors about a potentially hazardous or dangerous situation, this is where an area of law called premises liability comes into play. When a slip and fall injury occurs on a property where the owner was negligent, a lawsuit can be filed against that owner. The injured victim can use this financial compensation to pay for recovery costs, hospital bills costs, loss of wage costs, and more.
The rules of premises liability in the state of Georgia can be complex. If you were a victim of a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property and did not see the hazard or any posted signs or warnings regarding the hazard, you need the assistance of an Atlanta, GA slip and fall injury lawyer. First, let’s go over everything you need to know about slip and fall injuries and premises liability.
Understanding Comparative Negligence in a Premises Liability Lawsuit
The first thing to understand about slip and fall injury lawsuits is the concept of negligence and how it applies to these types of claims. When an individual has a legal duty to do or take care of something (such as maintain property) and they fail that duty, we say that they are negligent. In a slip and fall claim, negligence can be applied in more than one way.
Many states including Georgia follow the comparative negligence rule when determining damages in a slip and fall accident. This means that if you, in some way, contributed to your own accident (if, for example, you were talking on your cell phone and not paying attention to the warning sign), your award for injuries and other damages may be lessened by the amount that you were comparatively at fault.
During the process of filing a slip and fall accident injury claim, you may be asked questions such as:
- Did you have good reason to be on the property owner’s premises at the time of the accident?
- Would a person of reasonable caution (if they weren’t distracted in any way) in the same situation have noticed and avoided the dangerous condition?
- Did the property owner give warning of the dangerous condition that led to your slip and fall accident?
- Were you engaging in any activities that contributed to your slip and fall injury?
After being a victim of a slip and fall accident, you will likely be asked such questions by the property owner’s insurance agency to establish if you were acting negligently. Depending on how you answer, this can drastically reduce your accident settlement. Without the help of a skilled personal injury lawyer, a slip and fall accident claim is exceptionally difficult to win in court.
Proving a Slip and Fall Accident
To prove that the only reason your accident occurred was due to the negligence of the property owner, you will need to prove two things per Georgia premises liability laws:
- The property owner had knowledge of the hazardous condition or should have reasonably known about its existence
- The injured victim was not aware of the dangerous condition (they could not see it in time and there were no signs posted)
Under the above rules, a property owner is given a reasonable amount of time to fix any hazardous conditions which may be present. During this time is when the owner should post signs and/or keep visitors away from the dangerous area. The exact definition of “reasonable” as it applies to slip and fall cases will be determined by the judge and/or jury at the time of litigation or negotiations.
Common Causes for Slip and Fall Injuries in Georgia
There are a wide variety of causes and conditions that lead to slip and fall accidents in the state of Georgia. Some of the most common include but are not limited to:
- Structural defects or improper maintenance/upkeep that leads to uneven steps, cracked sidewalks, potholes in streets/parking lots, broken floor tiles, or torn carpeting
- Unlit walkways or hallways
- Malfunctioning escalators or broken staircases (including missing hand rails)
- Wet/slick walkways, stair cases, or floors
- Spills that aren’t cleaned up inside stores, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.
- Hazardous debris such as tree branches, etc. that does not get cleaned up
- Weather-related conditions such as snow or ice that doesn’t get shoveled away and/or salted
- A failure to install gutters, storm drains, or anti-slip devices which lead to hazardous conditions during heavy rainfall or snowfall
- A failure to place signs and/or restrict areas when hazardous conditions like any of the above exist
A slip and fall claim can be filed regarding a serious falling injury on any property that isn’t your own. Every property owner—regardless if they’re a grocery store owner, a homeowner, a construction corporation, or a city that owns a government building—has a duty to keep visitors safe. When that expectation is broken, U.S. citizens have a right to stand up and take legal action. Doing so helps ensure that no one gets injured again needlessly.
Recover with the Help of a Atlanta Slip and Fall Lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of a slip and fall accident that occurred on someone else’s property, contact Bey & Associates today to be paired with an expert Atlanta, GA slip and fall injury lawyer. Our law office has a team of attorneys who specialize in representing victims of negligence. We have the necessary resources to help fight for your legal rights. Together, we can keep Georgia safe.