What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?
Although legal terminology can sometimes be complicated, at other times it’s very clear. That’s the case with the type of accident known as a slip and fall. A slip and fall accident means that you have slipped, tripped, or fallen due to the actions or inactions of another person or entity. After a slip in fall incident you can discuss your options with the experienced attorneys at Brauns Law.
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere. A retail store floor that is slippery because customers have carried in umbrellas wet from a downpour can cause patrons of the store to slip and fall. An uneven porch on a rental building can cause people walking out of the building to slip and fall. A newly installed hotel carpet that has not been properly tacked down can result in uneven areas, causing visitors to trip. Debris carelessly left in a nursing home corridor can trip up elderly residents. Tangled cords on a worksite can trip construction workers and visitors to the site. All of these and many similar instances can cause serious injury and lasting harm.
Georgia property owners have a legal obligation to maintain a safe environment for most who visit their property. When they fail to uphold their duty accidents can and do happen. Slip and fall accidents can result in severe, even fatal injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), several million injuries occur from unintentional falls each year, resulting in more than 800,000 hospitalized for fall injuries each year. Attending a concert, eating dinner at local restaurants, going to the gym, or going to the mall all offer risk for a potential slip and fall accident. Yet, slip and falls can occur at a family member’s home or the neighbor’s house.
In a slip and fall, you can suffer injury from broken bones, sprains, lacerations, and severe bruising. But you can also be injured in such a way that the damage will require medical care and attention for the rest of your life, or have long-term consequences such as pain and emotional distress. You can suffer a traumatic brain injury, for example, or spinal cord injuries that can leave you unable to move. You may have lasting organ damage.
When property owners don’t maintain a safe environment, they can be held liable for damages when someone is injured or dies on their property.
If you have sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident caused by a negligent property owner, you have the right to seek compensation for damages under Georgia law.
The Brauns Law has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. If you live in the Atlanta area, contact Brauns Law at (404) 418-8244 for a free consultation to discuss the circumstance of your slip and fall accident with one of our skilled attorneys.
Call us to see if we can help you.
Brauns Law’s Results in Personal Injury Cases
The legal team at Brauns Law remains dedicated to advocating for those who have sustained severe and catastrophic injuries as a result of intentional harm or negligence. The firm’s continued commitment to client service has resulted in the recovery of millions of dollars in damages for clients from negotiated settlements and court verdicts in their favor. These examples of past results do not guarantee outcomes for your case, but Brauns Law aggressively pursues the maximum payout possible for each case.
What Should I Do After a Slip and Fall?
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, it’s very important to seek medical attention quickly. First, a doctor can treat any injuries. Medical attention can also ensure that injuries that may not be apparent to you are identified and treated appropriately. Second, medical records can be important evidence if you decide to pursue a lawsuit.
It’s also a good idea to take pictures of the area and your injuries right away. Many people carry a smartphone, which makes snapping pictures of a store aisle or other public area easy to do. Pictures make the environment surrounding your slip and fall very clear.
If you are injured in a store or other establishment where a manager is present, tell them that there is a dangerous area and that you fell. Failure to do so can cause a jury to question why you didn’t report it, should you decide to pursue a case.
How Is Liability for a Slip and Fall Accident Determined?
Slip and fall accidents are part of premises liability law. Premises liability law states that the owner of a property has a duty of care to people who use the property. Duty of care means that the properties must be kept safe. Stores must be safe for customers, employees, and other members of the public, for example. Landlords have a duty of care toward their tenants, and must keep their buildings safe. Proprietors of companies such as hotels must keep their premises safe. Nursing homes must keep their premises safe for residents.
Premises must be routinely maintained to keep them safe. If premises are not maintained in a safe condition, or they become unsafe or dangerous due to causes, the person or entity with a duty of care (or their designated employees, such as managers), must fix those conditions and make them safe again. The law considers not only whether an area is unsafe and whether the responsible party knew it was unsafe, but whether a reasonable person should have known that an area was unsafe.
These conditions must also be fixed within a reasonable period of time. In most cases concerning slip and falls, that means immediately. If water or other liquid is spilled in a store, for example, it must be cleaned up as soon as the store owner or managers realize there is a problem. They need to place cones and safety warnings around the area so people know not to walk there, to eliminate the risk of patrons slipping and falling.
If premises are not well-maintained enough to be safe, or a condition that makes premises unsafe is not rectified in a reasonable amount of time, the owner of the property can be liable for injuries and damages that result from a slip and fall caused by unsafe conditions.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Many different scenarios might lead to a serious slip and fall accident. When someone loses their footing on a slippery floor or stumbles over a hazard in their walking path, a fall can cause severe injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, back and spine injuries, and neck injuries. Here are some common causes of slip and fall accidents:
- Dilapidated buildings with loose carpet, tiles, floorboards, steps, and handrails
- Use or spillage of wet products such as water, cleaning products, oil, food, and floor wax
- Use or spillage of dry products like sawdust, sand, gravel, granular products, and powders
- Falling debris, especially during construction projects
- Uneven sidewalks, driveways, walkways, and other walking paths
Visitor Status in Georgia Slip and Fall Claims
Under Georgia law, property owners have a specific duty of care for each visitor who enters their property. The extent of that duty varies based on a visitor’s status. In slip and fall cases, Georgia courts recognize three different visitors:
- An invitee receives the most protection under Georgia law. Property owners must “exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe,” for those who are directly or indirectly invited on a property. Examples of invitees include diners at a restaurant, grocery shoppers and other retail shoppers, and those who attend functions at public spaces.
- Licensees can be invited or uninvited when they are another party’s property. Invited licensees typically include social guests and family members; they cannot be on the property for business purposes or have a contractual relationship with the landowner. Instead, licensees must be on the property for their own purpose. Uninvited licensees include door-to-door salespeople, church groups, and delivery persons. Georgia law requires that property owners protect licensees from “willful or wanton injury.”
- Trespassers have the least amount of protection on another party’s property. Property owners cannot actively trap, hurt, or injure a trespasser, but they have no other duty of care towards trespassers, unless they are children.
When a Child Trespasser Slips and Falls in Georgia
Although property owners have no duty of care towards trespassers, they do have to maintain certain standards on their property in the event of a child trespasser. Children who trespass on another party’s property are protected under the doctrine of attractive nuisance. Under Georgia law, five criteria exist for the application of attractive nuisance:
- The owner knows children might trespass, or should know.
- The owner realizes, or should realize, the property poses a risk of injury or death to children.
- A child does not understand the risk of the trespassing or the specific item, or “nuisance.”
- Eliminating the danger for children is simple for the property owner compared to the risk the danger poses to children.
- The property owner does not exercise reasonable care to eliminate danger and protect children.
Properties are full of attractive items which might attract children. Some of the common culprits which might cause a slip and fall accident for children include trampolines, swimming pools, construction sites, and abandoned machinery which kids might want to climb. Slip and fall accidents can be fatal for children, whose tender heads and brains are still developing. Even a minor bump on the head can lead to lifelong complications and developmental issues for young ones.
What Are the Possible Defenses Against a Slip and Fall Accident?
To recover damages in a slip and fall accident, you will need to prove that the actions of the entity with a duty of care were negligent.
Does that entity have any possible defenses? Yes. They could potentially argue that you caused the slip and fall by your own carelessness. They could also argue that cautionary warnings, such as signs or barriers, were placed around the unsafe area, and you failed to heed them.
Defendants to a slip and fall case can also try to argue that your actions were responsible for part of the accident. Georgia has a modified comparative negligence law. This means a court could find you partially responsible for a slip and fall accident, and the owner or other entity also partially responsible.
If the court finds are responsible for 50 percent or more of an accident, you cannot recover any damages. However, if you are found responsible for less than 50 percent, you can.
Get the Legal Help You Need From an Atlanta Slip and Fall Attorney
Suffering a severe injury causes mental anguish and financial struggles on top of the physical pain of the injury. You shouldn’t have to pay the medical expenses or absorb other losses because another party’s negligence caused your injury. Let an experienced Atlanta slip and fall lawyer guide you through the lawsuit process, handle the minutia of your case, and advocate for your right to compensation, while you focus on healing.
If you need legal assistance for your slip and fall claim, we can help. Contact Brauns Law today at (404) 418-8244 to schedule your free consultation and learn about how we can help.