Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere. You could slip on a wet floor in the grocery store or trip over loose carpeting at a friend’s house. In both instances, you could sustain serious injuries to vital body organs such as the neck, back, spine, or head. These injuries could require extensive treatment, at-home care, and rehabilitation. You might even need to take time off work as you recover.
Property owners in Georgia are mandated to maintain their property in a safe condition. This responsibility is outlined under premises liability law. Essentially, it allows slip and fall victims to seek compensation from a property owner or manager.
If you have suffered an injury in a slip and fall accident on private, residential, or commercial property, contact Ponton Law to discuss your legal rights with an expert personal injury attorney.
What is a Slip and Fall?
As the name suggests, a slip and fall refers to a situation where a person slips or trips and falls, injuring themselves. The accident is only categorized as such if it happens on someone else’s premises. This could be a residential, commercial, private, or government property.
Slip and fall cases fall under the broader category called premises liability. This set of laws outline the duty of care owed by property owners to different visitors. Generally, premises liability laws vary from state to state, but all stipulate the liability of property owners in slip and falls.
Although they are usually discussed as one, there are several types of slip and fall cases. It is crucial to learn their differences as they typically result in distinct personal injury claims. Distinguishing them can also help you better describe your injuries.
- Slip and Fall – This is an accident that occurs due to a slippery or wet floor. You might slip on a puddle of water, an icy walkway, or spilled beads on the floor.
- Trip and Fall – This accident occurs when you trip over an obstacle in your path or on an uneven surface and fall. Common causes include uneven carpeting, loose floorboards, and abnormally high door jambs.
- Step and Fall – This term is the most rarely used. It refers to a situation where you step into a low spot or hole in your path and fall. You could fall into an unfilled pothole, for example, or into a missing step on a staircase.
Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
As already mentioned, slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere. You could get hurt in a store, theater, airport, or government office. The accident location is vital as it helps determine who will be held liable for your injuries.
For instance, if you are injured at a friend’s home, you can file a claim against them. You will file a claim against a restaurant manager or owner if you get injured in a restaurant.
Although these accidents can occur anywhere, the causes are usually similar. The most common hazards of slip and fall accidents include:
- Slippery floors – Usually a result of spills or tracked in snow, mud, or sleet
- Ramps and staircases – Loose, broken, or uneven steps and handrails
- Clutter – Presence of objects in hallways, walkways, and aisles
- Poor lighting in hallways, staircases, and walkways
- Uneven surfaces – Bricks, pavements, presence of potholes
- Torn or bunched carpeting
- Unstable surfaces such as broken floorboards and tiles
- Scaffolding and ladders
Common Slip and Fall Injuries
The impact involved in falling can have devastating effects on the human body. Depending on the nature and angle of the fall, you could suffer the following injuries from a slip and fall:
- Head and brain injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Back, neck, and shoulder injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken or fractured bones
- Cuts, lacerations, and bruises
These injuries can range from mild to severe. After the accident, it is advisable to see a doctor immediately to determine their severity and begin treatment.
Liability in a Slip and Fall Case
Generally, property owners are expected to maintain reasonably safe conditions on their premises. This includes identifying and correcting any potential hazards such as uneven flooring. They are also required to provide sufficient warning in case they are unable to correct the harmful condition.
Failing to perform this duty of care can make a property owner liable for damages suffered by people on their property. However, property owners hold different responsibilities depending on the visitor. For example, the duty of care owed to a trespasser differs from that of an invited guest.
That said, many states subject slip and fall cases to comparative negligence. This means that you can be held partially responsible for your injuries if your actions contributed to the accident. For instance, if you were emailing while walking and missed a warning sign, the property owner could dispute liability.
Proving Fault in a Slip and Fall Case
A lot goes into determining fault for a slip and fall case. First, your accident has to result in an injury for you to file a claim. You also have to establish that the accident, and your injuries, were caused by a dangerous condition on the property. You could lose your eligibility for damages if your distraction or negligence caused you to miss a warning about the hazardous condition.
To prove that the property owner is responsible for your injuries, you and your attorney will need to establish the following:
- The property owner created the condition.
- The property owner was aware of the dangerous condition.
- The property owner failed to correct the condition.
- The dangerous condition existed long enough for the owner to have discovered and corrected it.
- The property owner failed to provide sufficient warning about the condition.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?
When you get injured in a slip and fall accident, you can hold the property owner or manager accountable for your losses. You can file a claim for damages to cover your medical expenses, rehabilitation, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, you will be required to prove negligence on their part and show how this negligence caused your injuries.
Attorney James T Ponton has been representing personal injury victims in Atlanta since 2008. He is well versed in premises liability law and can help you build a strong slip and fall case. With his experience working with insurance companies, he can also ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident in Atlanta, schedule your initial consultation with your Atlanta, GA personal injury attorney.