Our Atlanta law office recently got a phone call like this:
Him: “I just busted my ass at the hardware store!”
Me: “You brought your donkey to the hardware store? Are you Amish?”
So you’ve slipped, you’ve fallen, and you’ve gotten up only to find yourself in a bad situation physically. Sometimes mere accidents turn into something bigger than the sum of their parts, and you may have to seek assistance from a property owner or business when you’ve taken a spill in their domain.
How are you supposed to proceed in these instances? What does the law expect of both you and the business or property owner? Further, what does Georgia state law do to both recognize and uphold your rights as a victim in a slip and fall situation? Is your injury claim a viable one?
Say you were walking along in a grocery store and you slip on a puddle of clear liquid, fall, and break your foot. Your doctor tells you that you will need surgery. The outcome of one trip to the market is far cry from the grabbing of some milk and eggs that you initially set out to do. It’s at this juncture that you might start to wonder, “I’m pretty seriously injured, here. What are my rights?”
Slip and fall laws in Georgia are pretty straightforward. The reason that you were on a property dictates the property owner’s obligation(s) to you. If you were trespassing, you don’t have a whole lot of rights. If you received an invitation to be there as a benefit to the owner –which you are, where most retail establishments are concerned– then you are owed what is known as reasonable care, where the owner keeps the place you are visiting free from known and obvious hazards.
Secondly, Georgia laws want to know what you slipped or tripped on and whether or not the Defendant (property owner) had a greater knowledge about potential hazards than you did. This means that generally a Plaintiff should be able to recover damages caused by a fall, because it is typically assumed that a Defendant will have greater knowledge of circumstances and things that will cause a fall than a Plaintiff will. You will need to prove either actual knowledge or constructive knowledge.
The former is exactly what it sounds like: Actual, concrete knowledge of a hazard (for example, observing it themselves). The latter is a bit more complicated, because constructive knowledge is assumed by the court if a) a Defendant doesn’t have evidence of a ‘reasonable’ inspection process to comply with the understanding of their duty toward ordinary care and b) despite the exercising of ordinary care a Plaintiff had no knowledge of a hazardous situation because of actions or conditions within a Defendant’s control.
In short, a Plaintiff has to show both knowledge (actual or constructive) on the part of a Defendant as well as the fact that he didn’t learn of the hazard despite exercising reasonable care. There’s no pat answer as to whether or not you’ll be able to win on a slip and fall claim without seeking legal counsel or representation.
Reach out to our Atlanta injury lawyers’ office for our advice… that’s what we’re here for! We’ll answer your questions and guide you in any way we can.