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Slip & Fall/Premises Liability

Slip and fall or trip and fall accidents fall under the area of law known as premises liability. These cases arise when a property owner or custodian is negligent in the maintenance, repair and upkeep of the property in question.

The law that governs premises liability law is derived from O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1, which sets forth a duty of an owner or occupier of land to invitees. This code section provides that “where an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.“ Many injuries are due to a property owner or business establishment failure to provide a safe environment. Examples of proactive steps that a store can take to enhance customer safety and decrease the risk of a slip & fall accident include routine safety inspections and sweeps to discover possible dangerous conditions and placing wet floor cones and signs out when mopping or cleaning.

In order to prevail in a slip and fall cause of action or any type of premises liability claim, the plaintiff is required show that the business owner or business establishment proprietor had knowledge of the hazardous or defective condition that was superior to the plaintiff.  The plaintiff must show that the owner or proprietor had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazardous condition.  Actual knowledge is just what it sounds like – an actual awareness on the part of the proprietor of the foreign substance or hazardous condition. Constructive knowledge, is showing that the proprietor should have known of the foreign substance or hazardous condition.

Slip and falls or trip and falls are both categorized by what caused the hazardous condition that lead to your fall: including spills, mopping of floors without signs to warn customers of the wet floors, or negligent maintenance that causes a leak that is not repaired timely.

While businesses are “not required to warrant the safety of all (customers) from all things” a business that fails to take reasonable steps to make its store safe can be held legally accountable for a customer’s injuries. (Robinson v. Kroger Co., 268 Ga. 735, 740 (1997)). This Supreme Court case in which Todd was intrinsically involved, set the applicable legal standard for summary judgement in the State of Georgia that is still the standard used in premises liability claims to this day.

Please use these helpful tips to protect the valuable evidence in your case:

TIPS:

  • File an incident report with property management
  • Avoid making any detailed statements concerning fault
  • Get names of owners, managers, and/or employees of the property
  • Write down names and contact information of witnesses
  • Write down any employees with a description that were in line of sight of where you fell
  • Take good pictures of scene, the hazardous condition that caused your fall and your injuries
  • Save footwear and clothing you were wearing at the time of the accident
  • Seek medical attention. If you have sustained a serious injury call an ambulance
  • Do not give recorded statements to anyone, especially the defendant’s insurance adjusters

Premises liability law is one of the most complex and complicated areas of law. It is crucial to the success of your case to work with an attorney who has an in-depth knowledge and understanding of this challenging area of law. Todd has been handling these types of cases for over 25 years. Call Yates Law at 404-662-2227 right now for your free, no obligation initial client consultation.

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