Listed as one of the most common causes of injury in Georgia and the US, slip and falls are accidents that transpire in workplaces or business establishments. The injury is then ascribed to the property owner or such figure who carries the responsibility of keeping the property’s premises in safe and secure conditions.
When a property is being used to take in customers, entertain guests, or accommodate employees, the property should be maintained in good and risk-free conditions so that the safety and well-being of these people are well secured within its premises. Otherwise, when these properties are neglected and injuries result, a personal injury case would arise due to a slip and fall accident.
Personal injury cases arising from slip and fall accidents occur mainly because injured parties need assistance in shouldering the steep medical expenses. Not only would the victim be compensated for out-of-pocket expenses in a successful personal injury claim, but they would also, more often than not, be compensated for the emotional and mental distress, too–what we call general damages under the law.
Whether you are an injured party in a slip and fall accident or a property owner from whom compensation is being sought, or if you would just like to enlighten yourself about this category of personal injury cases, here below are some common FAQs on slip and fall accidents.
What are the most common causes of slip and fall accidents?
Slip and fall accidents occur due to different circumstances, but here are the most common causes of these mishaps:
Inadequate lighting: When an area within a property is poorly lit, such as dark corridors, rooms, stairways, and parking spaces, it definitely is difficult for anyone to navigate through the area safely and be able to recognize gaps and changes in the flooring. Thus, when property owners are unable to install and maintain proper and adequate lighting, and then slip and falls occur as a result, they may be held liable for these accidents.
Slippery floors and uneven surfaces: Gaps and cracks on the flooring, as well as wet floors, are inevitable and do happen from time to time, regardless of whatever kind of establishment the property concerned might be. There may be a fault on the part of the property owners, however, if they did not act immediately to have these uneven surfaces repaired, or if they failed to put up warning signs to make people aware of the hazard while inside the property.
Weather conditions: It must be emphasized that environmental conditions are also a common cause of slip and fall accidents, and this particular cause cannot easily be attributed to the property owner. Of course, the weather is never a controllable factor. However, the property owner can control the safety measures and installations in the property to mitigate these natural causes. The property owner has the duty, at the very least, to make available some fixtures or equipment, so that customers, guests, and employees are generally safe even if the weather outside is not.
Construction sites: With the wear and tear of properties come the constructions and improvements here and there. Property owners have all the right to make such repairs and improvements, but in doing so, they must also make sure that there are adequate warning signs, as well as the necessary installations, to keep the area safe and risk-free despite the ongoing constructions.
As an injured party, how can I validly make a claim for a slip and fall?
In every personal injury case arising from a slip and fall accident, making a claim against a property owner will always be based on the facts and circumstances of the case. In other words, compensation is not automatic, and the injured party must first prove that he is entitled to the payment of damages before being actually paid.
For instance, he must prove that the person he is claiming against has the legal duty to protect the injured party from the injury. If the defendant (that is, the party to a personal injury case from whom compensation is being sought) is not under the obligation to prevent the injury from happening, then a claim against him will not prosper.
Once this obligation is proven, the next things to prove are the non-fulfillment of this obligation, and that this non-fulfillment of duty was the proximate cause of the injury. To emphasize, it should be the action (or lack of action) on the part of the defendant that is sufficiently related to the injury such that it would be attributable to its occurrence. Otherwise, if the proximate cause of the injury was something else–say, the injured party’s own negligence or an unforeseen event that no one could have reasonably been able to prevent–then, again, a personal injury claim will not be had against the defendant.
Another important point to consider is the time when the case must be filed with the court if the parties do not arrive at an amicable settlement of the dispute. Particularly in the state of Georgia, a personal injury lawsuit must be filed within two years from the time ‘the right of action accrues, which, in non-legal terms, is the time of the occurrence of the accident.
As a property owner, how can I defend myself against a slip and fall claim?
A property owner in a personal injury case is not without defenses. He has the right under the law to deny liability or, at the least, reduce the payment he is to make in favor of the claiming party.
As a property owner, your defenses are fundamentally based on the contention that you are not to be blamed for the injury suffered by the plaintiff (that is, the person filing the case against you). One of the most common defenses is that you in fact exercised the reasonable degree of care expected from a property owner, but the injury, nevertheless, still happened. You may also argue that the injury was actually caused by a fortuitous event–an event of natural origin that could not have been foreseen and is thus out of anyone’s control, as already discussed above.
If the circumstances of the case show that there was indeed fault on your part, you may work to minimize the payments you are to shoulder by stating that there was also fault on the part of the injured party–that he was also partly to be blamed because of his own negligence, for the injury. This can be ascribed to Georgia’s modified comparative fault system, which was already discussed in a previous post.
In the unfortunate event that you get involved in a slip and fall accident, you will need an expert by your side to pursue your case, whether you are the injured party or the property owner from whom damages are being claimed. While the information above is a helpful guide, a personal injury lawyer is still the most advantageous help you can get to either seek or avoid liability successfully.
Musgrove Trial Firm is ready to help and represent you. Located in Norcross, Georgia, Musgrove prides itself in its team of highly skilled and competent personal injury lawyers, and these legal experts, after the initial consultations and discussions, undertake to pursue your case sufficiently and well. We guarantee the best legal assistance in Atlanta and its surrounding areas so that you can focus on your quick and full recovery from the preceding slip and fall accident.
Musgrove Trial Firm can be reached by sending us a message on our site or by giving us a call at (678) 226-1994 for immediate assistance.