Alpharetta Slip and Fall Accident Lawyers
Slip and fall injuries happen in many different ways and in many different places. Any time you’re on someone else’s property and get hurt from an obstacle or hazard on that property, you’ve experienced a slip and fall injury. There are common places where slip and fall injuries happen, and you should keep your eyes open in those places to avoid injury.
If a business or property owner knew or should have known about any potential danger, the law requires that the owner take steps to fix any problems and make sure that visitors to the property are safe. If they don’t take those steps, they can, under Georgia law, be held liable for your injury and the related costs and expenses.
If you suffered injuries in this type of accident, seek help from an Alpharetta slip and fall lawyer at Spaulding Injury Law right away.
Georgia Slip and Fall Law is Complicated
Georgia’s slip and fall law is complex and sometimes hard to apply. “Slip and fall” may sound minor and of little consequence, but these injuries can leave you with lifelong consequences. They can lead to tremendous medical expenses and even loss of capacity issues. Therefore, it is critical to understand how these cases work and whether your case might be in the compensable category.
Where Do People Slip and Fall?
The places where these injuries happen most often tend to have a lot of public traffic and often people who are already not at their highest mobility level. Some of the most common locations are:
- Nursing homes and assisted living residences
- Grocery and retail stores
- Small businesses
- Gyms and workout facilities
- Hotels and motels
- Apartment complexes
Status & Standard of Care
In most states, owners of premises described above will owe a specific level of care to anyone on their property. This standard does not apply in Georgia. In Georgia, to prevail in a negligent slip and fall case, you must be able to show that you were on the property at the owner’s invitation and, probably, to their benefit as well.
The standard of care a property owner has to give you depends on that single fact. Were you an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser? How you are to be treated arises from that status. Under the law, there are three status levels relating to property:
- Invitees – The property owner must exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches to the premises safe. Georgia law says an invitee is someone who was encouraged to be on the property, usually for the owner’s benefit. These invitees can include outside service providers, customers, employees, and other people who have in some way been asked or allowed on the premises. It’s important to remember, however, that you’re only invited to the part of the property where you were allowed to be. In other words, if you go to the non-public areas of the store, you might become a licensee or even a trespasser.
- Licensees – For a licensee, the property owner is only liable for an injury caused by willful and wanton or reckless conduct. Under Georgia law, this is someone that the owner allows to be on the property, but whose reason for being there is not based on a contract with the owner. Invitees are usually pursuing their own interests, convenience, or pleasure.
- Trespassers –Georgia trespassers can only recover if they can prove that their injury was caused by the property owner’s willful or wanton conduct. Trespassers have no invitation or permission to be present on the property. Both invitees and licensees who go where they aren’t supposed to become trespassers.
Just for the record, children are almost never trespassers. They’re treated under a doctrine of “attractive nuisance,” which puts a very high burden on property owners to make sure that they don’t leave dangers that will attract children, like swimming pools and deep holes, to injure themselves.
Owners’ Knowledge of Slip and Fall Hazards
The owner’s liability or duty even to invitees only applies if the owner knows about the hazard. The owner must have actual or constructive knowledge of the danger. Actual knowledge means that the owner has real knowledge that the danger existed. In contrast, constructive knowledge means that if the owners did not know about the hazard, they should have.
Slip and Fall Claims Can Be Hard to Prove
Because showing that someone should have known something is subjective, it can be challenging to prove. So, if you have suffered a slip and fall injury, you should not wait to contact a knowledgeable slip and fall attorney. Nevertheless, there are ways to demonstrate that someone should have known about a danger on his or her property:
- A previous inspection by the owner with a failure to find the danger
- The owner was around the danger and should have noticed and repaired it
- The owner may have caused the danger
Any of these can help you show that the owner should have known about the danger. However, the property owner may be able to defeat both kinds of knowledge claims.
So, what kinds of hazards can result in a slip and fall injury? These can include:
- Dark, poorly lit areas
- Spills or wet places on the floor
- Building code violations
- Poor maintenance
- Ice or snow clean up badly done
- Walkways and handrails poorly maintained
So long as these conditions weren’t in plain view, they can result in a compensable injury.
Property Owners Might Try to Blame You
Georgia follows the rule of comparative negligence. This principle says that if you could have avoided the injury by using ordinary care, you won’t be able to recover damages. In practice, it means that if you are 49% or less at fault, you may recover as much as 51% of your losses. This means that if your damages were $100,000 and you were 35% at fault, the most you can recover is $65,000. However, if the court says you were 50% at fault, then you get nothing. In Georgia, you cannot recover at all for an accident in which you were at least 50% at fault.
Contact An Alpharetta Slip and Fall Attorney Today
Under most circumstances, you have only two years to file a slip and fall personal injury claim in Georgia. For this reason, it’s critical that, if you were in a slip and fall in Alpharetta, you contact an experienced Alpharetta slip and fall lawyer for a free case consultation as soon as possible. Waiting can destroy your chance to recover.