Watch Your Step: ‘Slip and Fall’ in Georgia
Businesses, hotels, and apartment complexes in Georgia all share one common trait: The owners of these premises have a legal responsibility to those who enter them. Although it is impossible to predict when you will slip and fall, if ever, premises owners have a legal obligation to make reasonable accommodations to ensure that you will not fall. Often times, however, they simply refuse.
Injured persons will undoubtedly explore their right to civil action in situations like this. In Georgia, those options are specific to each fall, the person’s ability to avoid tragedy, and if comparative negligence played an integral role in causing an otherwise preventable slip or fall.
A Slip and Fall Primer
The laws of Georgia specifically discuss torts, or civil claims against another party. In short, it states that anyone who owns land, property, buildings, or similar dwellings is liable for the safety and well-being of those they allow to reside, gather, or otherwise exist.
Supermarkets and big box stores are prime examples of an established invitee-owner relationship. Once you have entered the property and begin shopping or simply walking, it is the property owner’s responsibility to make sure floors are swept, signage is placed around wet or dangerous areas, and aisles are free of clutter and debris.
Slip and fall injuries stemming from the negligent care of one’s premises are common. They range from twisted ankles and banged up arms to traumatic brain injury and death. The simplest slip or fall can put families in dire straits, especially if the injury happened to the family’s breadwinner.
As with other personal injury cases, insurance companies and defense attorneys will provide just enough headache to the injured party, so they will either back off or settle the case prior to litigation.
Comparative Negligence and Statute of Limitations
Georgia slip and fall laws are there to protect the innocent and are specific in how they are applied to premises liability cases. Two key laws carry heavy mitigating weight in determining the amount of responsibility a premises owner shoulders, and how much time injured persons have to react.
Comparative negligence is an often-recited legal theory that although someone is responsible for your misery, you have some level of involvement that led to your injury. This defense tactic is frequently called upon in defending claims in which some slip and fall injuries were reasonably avoidable. Some examples where comparative negligence may apply include:
- Person tumbles down flight of stairs while texting their best friend;
- Engaging in potentially hazardous activities on surfaces known to harbor injury;
In cases in which juries find plaintiffs had partial responsibility for their injuries, compensation would be proportional with amount of responsibility. So, if your slip and fall attorney ascertains that $50,000 would cover the incident, but the jury determines you had 30% responsibility, the net award would be $35,000 ($50,000 – 30%, or $15,000).
Georgia imposes a statute of limitations on bringing claims against at-fault parties of two years from the time the incident occurred and so it is important to not delay contacting an experienced slip and fall attorney.
How Slip and Fall Cases Form
Rarely will you find an injured person speed-dialing his or her attorney while helplessly awaiting ambulatory care, although it has happened before. Most victims are concerned about addressing their newly acquired injuries and will worry about litigating later.
Cases against premises owners are formed based on their own merits. In supermarket slip and fall cases, for example, store cameras may catch the entire incident. Witnesses may have seen all or part of the aggrieved person’s fall. The doctor’s initial diagnosis and treatment plan may outline the extent of injuries, and their consistency with slip and fall accidents.
Once an injured person has addressed any injuries and returned home to recuperate, he or she will begin phoning attorneys. Facts will be shared, consultations will transpire, and the case shall move forward if enough aggravating circumstances exist worth pursuing financial compensation for victims. Most cases have enough, even if the possibility of comparative negligence exists.
From there, the dialogue between the property or business owner’s insurer, defense attorney, property owner, and plaintiff’s attorney ultimately dictate the direction the case will go.
Despite our Best Efforts, Slips and Falls Happen
Erring on the side of caution will not prevent the inevitable. Premises owners have unjustifiable reasons why they refuse to maintain their premises, which leads to slip and fall incidents across Georgia. Victims, regardless how hard they try, will find themselves injured due to willful negligence.
Remember, only judges and juries are empowered to determine innocence or guilt. Do not let premises owners, their attorneys, or insurers rope you into stating otherwise.
Involved in an unavoidable slip and fall, and feel everyone is against you? Georgia Trial Lawyers’ slip and fall attorneys work diligently on all premises liability cases and will zealously work to serve justice. Although no amount of compensation is guaranteed, our competitive work ethic is undeniable. Contact our firm to schedule an initial consultation and let us put this incident behind you.