“Slip and falls” and “trip and falls” are some of the most common types of premises liability cases. Each year, many people suffer Traumatic Brain Injuries, Post-concussive Syndrome, spinal cord injuries, and broken bones due to the negligence of a business or institution. Still, the insurance companies have made a mockery of these claims.
A slip and fall or trip and fall claim exists when an owner fails to maintain their premises in a safe manner. The law is clear that property owners and landlords must keep their property reasonably safe.
The degree of care a property owner must exercise depends on the reason the visitor is on the property. In some instances the property owner has an obligation to fix the hazard or protect the visitor from the injury; at other times, the property owner only needs to warn of the hazard.
Some premises (slip and fall / trip and fall) claims that are most common are:
- Failure to remove foreign objects on the floor
- Failure to repair defects on their property
- Failure to appropriately design their premises
- Failure to warn of dangerous conditions on property
- Failure to properly remove ice, snow or water
Georgia case law states that a person who goes onto someone else's property “must use all senses to discover and avoid hurtful things.” However, a person on another's property “is not obliged to inspect the premises to discover latent defects, nor even to observe patent defects.” Also, a person on another's property need not look “continuously in all directions [to exercise ordinary care for personal safety]”.
Under Georgia law, the real questions for these matters are:
1. Who has superior knowledge of the hazard, the injured person, or the owner of the premises?
2. Should the owner have known or did the owner know of the hazard?
Let's look at one example. If it is raining outside and a person enters a business and slips five feet from the door, clearly the person should have known the floor would be wet. Therefore, that person would not have a good claim against the owner of the building. However, the store should be protecting the inside of the building. So, if the person instead slipped in the back of the store, rather than at the rainy entrance, then that person may have a claim against the owner of the premises.
If you do suffer an injury from a slip and fall or trip and fall, it is very important that you know what caused you to slip or trip. Take a picture or even take with you what made you fall. If you do not know what caused the fall, you may not have a claim.
Slip and fall and trip and fall cases, and other premises liability cases, can be complicated. It takes an experienced, dependable, and dedicated attorney to prove that an owner had prior knowledge of the hazard.