Slip and fall accidents in Atlanta. Who is liable?

Slip and fall accidents are common in Atlanta, all of Georgia and throughout the United States. What many people don’t know is that according to the law, you have the possibility of claiming physical damage that you suffer from the individual or entity responsible for these accidents when you fall.

These accidents can leave temporary or permanent injuries, which can often cause chronic pain that will bother you for the rest of your life. If you suffered a slip and the blow caused injuries and physical pain, you can file a claim against those responsible. First, we’ll explain what you need to know.

Slip and falls can happen in residential homes and businesses. In either case, you can file a claim. However, according to Georgia law, your Atlanta slip and fall attorney should first review what category you belonged to while the accident took place in that home or business. That will define the level of care the owner should have had with you and determine if you are eligible for economic compensation.

The categories established by law are the following:

Intruder: This is a person who trespasses and invades a property and enters without any right. Whether it’s an office, home, or business, the law establishes the duty of care as the owner of a home or a business that serves people.

But in the case of intruders, the owner generally has no duty and doesn’t need to take reasonable care of the property or warn of hidden dangers.

For example, if you break into a property and there is a pile of trash, and you have a slip and fall accident or any type of accident on that property, the owner will not be liable for your slip and fall. The owner has no duty to you, even if they knew the condition was or could be dangerous. The owner can’t be held liable if a trespasser injures themselves on their property.

Licensee: The second category is when you are a social guest. In technical terms, the license holder enters the property for their purpose but is present with the owner’s consent. The owner’s obligation is to warn about the dangers that may exist on the property.

Continuing with the same example, if someone invites you to their house, the owner should warn you about the pile of garbage that they know is there because someone could slip and fall. If the owner is aware of a condition on their property that puts you in danger, something they know about and doesn’t provide a warning, they may be liable if you suffer any injuries while on the property.

Guest: The third and most important for our purposes is the person in an establishment as a guest. A guest is someone who goes to the owner’s premises for the owner’s benefit, for pecuniary gain (money), or to produce money for the owner’s benefit. The owner owes the guest the highest duty of care.

An example is a customer in a supermarket. It’s not enough that they warn about the defects that exist in the property; owners have to go beyond that. The property may be safe, but they must inform everyone if additional, extraordinary dangerous conditions arise before or as soon as they become aware.

So, if you’re a guest in someone’s home with defective flooring, but the landlord is not yet aware of the danger, and the floor breaks as you walk on it, leading you to suffer an injury, it would be difficult to hold the owner accountable for this.

It’s different if you are a consumer or a guest in a business. Not only must they warn you of possible dangers, but they are also required to carry out several inspections to guarantee that the property is safe before allowing the entry of third parties/guests. In addition, they are required to detect these defects in advance and take the necessary measures to protect you.

Ultimately, it all depends on the condition you visit that home or business

Your personal injury lawyer in Atlanta will be able to determine what category you were in and if you have a slip and fall case to claim against the responsible owner.

Take into account that a slip and fall, and a trip and fall, are different scenarios. However, from a practical point of view, your accident lawyer can analyze if someone has been negligent and is responsible in both scenarios. So don’t rule out an accident claim without a consultation first. Remember that at Virguez Law, you can make your consultation for free.

Around 99% of slip and fall cases in Atlanta are on commercial property. For this reason, it is crucial for Virguez Law that you know your rights. A business owner is required to keep the place safe and warn clients of any danger, in addition to taking all measures within their reach to avoid any damage to their property.

Part of our job as attorneys is to check if the company follows a standard process for conducting inspections. If they don’t have it or it’s not part of their routine, that will be one of the points that we will expose in your case. Businesses know that they open their doors for you to participate in their business on their premises for their profit; they must guarantee your safety. So we need to determine when business owners can be held accountable for negligent conduct that harmed you while you were shopping or somehow participating in their business.

We’ll explain with an example. Let’s say someone is walking with a cup of water down an aisle in a supermarket, and you are walking right behind that person, not noticing when they spill water on the floor. Since you don’t see it, you go through the puddle and fall. Could we hold the business responsible for your fall? On principle, no, because it was almost immediate, there wasn’t a reasonable period of time that allowed the employees to notice the puddle of water, put up some signage and clean it. Even with routine inspections every 5-10 minutes, they couldn’t have prevented it.

A similar example is someone spills water in the supermarket, but it takes 20-30 minutes, or even less, for an employee to notice it. However, the employee sees the puddle, doesn’t put a sign or clean it up, walks by, and you slip. There, we may have a slip and fall case, and you can collect for the injuries you suffered from the business. The actions and omissions of employees hold the company they work for responsible, so if an employee does nothing and an accident happens, we can hold the business accountable too.

The details of your case and evidence are crucial

Every case must be analyzed. However, evidence can always complicate or destroy your accident case, and every detail counts.

In a slip and fall case, it is crucial to take photographs immediately, as the damage that caused the accident can be erased. We need the evidence before the business takes the necessary measures to protect itself from responsibility. It’s very different if we see a barely visible puddle of water in a photo to a dirty puddle of water. Suppose there are traces of a supermarket cart, people’s shoes, or other elements that allow us to conclude that this puddle of water was there for longer than necessary. In that case, that could point to a lack of care on the part of the premises and their employees, allowing us to make a strong case against them and get you the compensation you deserve.

Keep in mind that a dirty puddle can be cleaned up in a second and leave us without the evidence of the case. Also, remember that we will not be able to claim any damages if you caused the accident yourself, which is why proof is so necessary.

Warnings and measures must be proportional to the danger

Although one of the measures that businesses take in the face of possible danger in their facilities is to put up a sign, sometimes that sign will not be enough to avoid the accident. Even more importantly, it’s sometimes not proportional to the existing damage or danger. For example, if there is a large gap that exposes a high voltage cable, a sign warning of its danger may not be enough. The owner is expected to take necessary and proportional measures to the damage they want to avoid in their business, such as closing the section or corridor where the cable is exposed to prevent people from going near the danger, among others.

To win your slip and fall case, immediately seek medical attention and contact your Atlanta personal injury lawyer. We will provide you with the legal advice you need, collect the evidence, and will be able to tell you what you should do at that moment so that you can recover while we take care of everything.

Photo courtesy of T.H. Chia – Unsplash

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