When we handle slip and fall cases, we look at where the person fell and the circumstances that led to the accident. We have to evaluate the facts and determine who is responsible for the injury.
A slip and fall accident does not automatically result in financial compensation. To make someone pay you money for your losses, they must have failed to meet their legal duty of care toward you. The defendant’s negligence must have caused or contributed to your fall and injuries.
Step One: Where You Fell
We need to investigate the location where the accident happened to find out who owns the property. For example, if you slipped and fell at a private residence, the homeowner may be liable. If you slipped and fell at a grocery store, the grocery store may be liable. Much depends on the location of your fall.
Step Two: Why You Were on the Property
Visitors to a property generally fall into one of three classes: licensee, invitee, or trespasser.
A property owner has very little responsibility toward a trespasser, but if you were on the property for a lawful reason, the owner has a higher burden. For trespassers, the landowner is not allowed to sabotage the property or intentionally cause harm. The property owner and manager owe lawful visitors a duty of care.
Step Three: Whether the Landowner was Negligent
Under Georgia law, there are several elements of property owner liability, and we have to prove each:
- There was a dangerous condition on the property, and
- The owner knew or should have known about the hazard, and
- The owner did not correct or provide sufficient warnings about the situation, and
- The hazard caused your accident, injuries, and damages.
Step Four: What Caused Your Accident and Injuries
If your slip and fall accident met the elements that establish landowner negligence, and that negligence caused your injuries, we can pursue a personal injury claim against the owner. If there was a hazard on the property, but something else caused your fall, the owner is not liable.
Let’s say that you were walking to your table in a restaurant. Another patron told the server that there was a small spill of oil on the floor. The server ignored the warning and did not clean up the spill. If you slid on the oil and fell, sustaining an injury, the restaurant may be liable. The restaurant knew about a hazard and did not wipe up the oil. You fell and got hurt because of the negligence.
Step Five: Whether You Were Also Negligent
People walk around in a state of distraction today. People are texting and performing other functions on their cell phones without looking where they are going. If you were partly negligent, Georgia’s rule on comparative fault will reduce the amount of money you get in proportion to the percentage of your negligence, but you can still collect damages from the responsible party.
Call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC today at 404-474-0804 today, to get your free consultation about your premises liability case.