It is hard to imagine that your entire world could change due to one single fall. Unfortunately, countless people each year slip and fall, causing severe injuries including fractures, concussions, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), contusions, lacerations, bruising, internal bleeding and even death.
People at risk are typically older individuals or the very young. One falling incident can cause a host of injuries that can be difficult to recover from. Many victims have lengthy stays in the hospital and recovery centers that rack up thousands upon thousands in medical costs. Due to the loss of income and medical expenses, families are pushed to the brink of bankruptcy. Falling injuries have the potential to devastate victims and their families.
A falling injury can happen just about anywhere, including parking lots, supermarkets, retail stores, bars, restaurants, offices, gyms, homes, parks, swimming pools, sidewalks, stadiums, factories and construction sites. Slip and fall injuries typically could have been prevented with the right maintenance or safety precautions. For example, many causes of falls include slippery floors, uneven pavement, potholes, broken steps, or negligently maintained walking areas. Sometimes property owners are missing banisters or railings that could have prevented or mitigated the severity of injuries.
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 store 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 a $15,000 reduction).
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 convince you into stating otherwise.
What should you do after the slip and fall?
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Your health and well-being are most important and will also help document the injuries you suffered.
- If you are in a business establishment, report the accident to the employees so that they can document the conditions that caused the slip and fall. If the fall occurred where you live, contact the landlord. If the fall happened at a home owned by someone else, make sure the homeowner is informed of the fall and the cause.
- If you are able, take pictures of the area of the fall and your injuries. You can also have someone else do this if you are not capable.
- Obtain the names and phone numbers of any witnesses.
- If you think the business or someone is responsible for your fall and resulting injuries, consult with a slip and fall attorney to evaluate the facts before you talk to insurance companies, or settle with anyone.
- After the fall, keep clothes, shoes and anything else you were wearing in a separate bag. Do not wear the clothing again until you’ve consulted with an 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 lawsuits 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 will 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.
Call and speak with an experienced Atlanta slip and fall attorney about your case
In Georgia, the duty that a property owner has towards guests or trespassers on their property depends on multiple complex factors. There are some important distinctions that the Georgia courts have made regarding slip and fall cases. For example, the duty a homeowner owes is different than a commercial establishment. If you have specific questions about duty and responsibility, it is best to talk it over with an attorney.
When you choose Georgia Trial Attorneys as your injury law firm, you will quickly see the high level of professionalism and compassion we offer. You will never be just a case number to us. We take a client-centric and personalized approach with each and every case. We are happy to sit down with you, hear the facts of your case, and develop a legal strategy on how to move forward with your slip and fall claim. If you have suffered a fall in Georgia, call 678-392-1401 today. We will schedule you for a no-obligation, free consultation to discuss your injury case with one of our experienced attorneys.
Fall Injury Fact: If you fall and hurt yourself, the other party is liable only if their actions were a breach of legal duty that caused your fall. As the plaintiff, it is your burden to prove this. You must prove it by a preponderance of the evidence, which means you have to prove that- more likely than not- the defendant was negligent in creating the conditions that led to your fall.