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Suffered Injuries From A Slip and Fall Accident?
People can slip and fall, or trip and fall, because of a variety of dangers and obstacles, including a wet floor, a slippery floor, an object on the floor, poor lighting, uneven flooring, missing or broken handrails, sidewalks or curbs that are not properly constructed and a lot of other dangers. In some cases, property owners knew about these dangers or obstacles and failed to take adequate steps to remove them, correct them or to notify guests of them to ensure the safety of people who visit their property. In other cases, property owners did not know of the danger but should have if the property owner had exercised reasonable care to inspect and look for them.
In Georgia, the fact you fell and were injured while visiting another’s business or property is not enough, in and of itself, to require the property owner, or its insurance company, to compensate you for your injuries. You must prove that the property owner’s negligence caused your fall and your injuries. These fall cases are strongly contested and you need an experienced injury lawyer to help you identify and prove the negligence of the property owner to be able to get a recovery of money for your injuries. It is especially important to speak with an experienced injury lawyer before you give a statement to the property owner’s insurance company. The insurance adjusters are trained in slip and fall lawx and they know what questions to set up their defense and avoid paying for damages. If they can get you to say certain things on a recorded call, they know they can win the case and get it dismissed, even if you later decide to get a lawyer to help you. What may sound like truthful and innocent answers to you can be twisted around to prove the property owner is not liable for your injuries.
If you take away one thing from this webpage, it should be don’t try to handle a slip and fall case on your own. If you have been injured in a fall at a business or on another person’s property, call the experienced injury lawyers at Dan Chapman & Associates now at (678)242-7626 for a free slip and fall consultation.
GEORGIA SLIP & FALL LAW BASICS
The first thing you must know about slip and fall law is that your reason for being on the property will affect the law that applies to your fall claim. For example, trespassers are not treated the same as social guests or customers. The property owner’s duty to protect you depends on why you are at the property. The law classifies most visitors to a person’s property as either an invitee, a licensee or a trespasser. A brief description of these classifications is found below.
Claims by Invitees
Most slip and fall or trip and fall claims are filed by people classified as invitees on a property. Invitees are people with an express or an implied invitation to come to the property for business reasons. An invitee is allowed on the property for the mutual benefit of the invitee and the property owner. A common example of an invitee is a customer who goes to a retail store. The customer is on the property for their own benefit to buy needed items and also for the benefit of the store owner who will make money from the sale.
Duty Of Care Owed To Invitees
Property owners owe a higher standard of care to invitees than to others who come on their property. Under Georgia law OCGA 51-3-1, property owners are liable to invitees for falls caused by the owner’s failure to exercise ordinary care to keep the premises safe. This means that the property owner must take reasonable steps to inspect the property for dangers and ensure conditions are safe for invitees. The law does not require the property owner to continually patrol the property looking for dangers but they must inspect the property on a reasonable schedule. Have you ever gone in a store’s restroom and seen a cleaning schedule on the wall? That schedule with the times the restroom was cleaned is not there to show you how often the store cleans the restroom. It is actually an inspection log in case a customer slips and falls in the restroom and the store will use the log to show it had a reasonable inspection process to avoid any liability for the customer’s injuries.
The legal duty owed to invitees is not absolute. The property owner is not responsible for injuries caused by a fall unless that property owners had actual or constructive knowledge about the danger or hazard that caused the fall. The property owner has actual knowledge if the property owner could see, touch or smell the dangerous condition on the property. For example, a store employee could see a puddle of water on the floor but did not take any steps to clean it up or warn a customer of it. The property owner has constructive knowledge if the property owner should have known about the danger if the property owner had looked for it. For example, a store employee could have found a liquid spill on a store aisle floor if they had just inspected that aisle every hour. Constructive knowledge of a danger is more difficult to prove so we look for store video cameras in the area to see if the danger was visible or to determine if a store employee may have walked right by the danger and took no action to put up a floor warning sign or clean it up.
Claims by Licensees
Licensees are people who have permission to come on a property for their own benefit but not necessarily for the benefit of the property owner. An example of a licensee is a house guest or a door-to-door salesperson. Property owners can be held responsible for an injury to a licensee if the property owner knowingly exposed the licensee to a danger that posed an unreasonable risk of harm. This means the injured person must prove that that the property owner knew about the danger or there was an intent to cause harm. These cases are very difficult to win and many times the cases are thrown out of court because the injured person cannot prove the property owner knowingly exposed the guest to a danger.
Claims By Trespassers
Trespassers are people who come on a property without the permission of the property owner. They are not invited to be there. The only duty a property owner owes to a trespasser is to avoid carelessly or willfully harming them. These cases are also very difficult to win. An example of a case we won was a case where some kids had been riding their ATVs on a neighbor’s property without his permission. The neighbor was angry about these trespassers on his property and put a wire cable across the dirt road with not flagging on color on it so it was not noticeable. A person on an ATV did not see the wire and they hit it while riding the ATV on the dirt road and was injured. The property owner was found responsible for the injury to the trespasser for knowingly creating the danger that injured them. If he had put orange flagging tape on the wire, or maybe threaded the wire through white PVC pipe, the wire would have been noticeable to the trespasser and the property owner could have avoided liability.
Comparative Negligence In Fall Cases
Georgia recognizes comparative negligence in fall cases. This means you compare the negligence of the property owner with any negligence of the injured person. If the injured person was careless, and the property owner was also careless, it could keep the injured person from any recovery for their injuries. You must exercise reasonable care on another person’s property to protect yourself. Under Georgia law O.C.G.A. 51-12-33, an injured person cannot
If you have been injured in a fall at a business or on another person’s property, call the experienced injury lawyers at Dan Chapman & Associates now at (678)242-7626 for a free slip and fall consultation.