Business owners, commercial buildings, and residential property renters and owners have an obligation to properly maintain their properties to ensure the safety of others. Slip and fall claims result from unsafe property conditions where an injury almost always could have been prevented. A slip and fall lawyer helps injury victims hold negligent property owners accountable for the damages they cause.
If a property owner knew about a danger on their premises and failed to take the necessary steps to remove or remedy the issue, this could constitute negligence. A premises liability lawyer will undertake an investigation to prove negligence occurred and caused your injuries so you can recover the financial compensation you deserve and need to heal from the damages you suffered.
What Is Premises Liability?
Premises liability refers to a property owner’s duty to keep their premises safe and prevent injuries thereon. If someone is injured on their property, the property owner and/or occupier may be responsible for the damages caused. While slip, trip, and fall accidents fall under the legal theory of premises liability, other situations do too, including:
- Animal attacks
- Swimming pool injuries
- Inadequate security
- Assault and rape
- Burn injuries or other fire-related accidents
- Toxic exposure
- Inadequate property maintenance
- Unsafe conditions at worksites
- Falling objects
Georgia Premises Liability Law
The Official Code of Georgia, Title 53, Chapter 3 discusses the liability of owners and occupiers of land. The landowner or occupier has a different duty depending upon the status of the person visiting their property. Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees over anyone else who visits their property.
The Status of The Visitor
A visitor to a property is considered an invitee when the property’s owner or occupier, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads them to come to their premises for any lawful purpose. The duty of care owed to an invitee makes the property’s owner or occupier liable in damages to invitees for injuries caused by the property’s owner or occupier’s failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe. This means property owners must take reasonable steps to ensure the conditions of their premises are safe for invitees, but they do not have to constantly look over every inch of their building or land for problems. The liability to invitees applies to hazards property owners or occupiers had actual knowledge of, which means they could see, hear, touch, or smell the danger. The liability to invitees also applies to issues property owners or occupiers had constructive knowledge of, meaning they should have known about them. Often, proving a property owner or occupier violated an ordinance or code can be used as evidence that they knew or should have been aware of a problematic condition.
A property visitor is considered a licensee when they are not a customer, servant, or trespasser, have no contractual relationship with the property’s owner or occupier, and is permitted – either expressly or impliedly – to go on the premises for their own interests, convenience, or gratification. The property owner or occupier is liable to a licensee only for willful or wanton injury. Property owners or occupiers are only liable to entrants who have permission to be on a property but only for their own interests when they knowingly expose them to an unreasonable risk of harm. A claimant must show knowledge of the danger and intent to cause harm to prevail in this type of premises liability claim.
A property owner or occupier has no legal duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others or to give any warnings about dangerous conditions when those visitors are visiting the property for recreational purposes even if they invited the person to their property for recreation (for free).
Likewise, property owners cannot be held liable for premises liability injuries caused by conditions that are in plain view of the visitor. Visitors are expected to take reasonable measures to avoid plainly visible obstacles that are in locations where one would expect a hazard to be located. Property owners or occupiers do not have an obligation to warn invitees about obstacles that are in plain view because invitees and owners/occupiers have the same level of awareness of these issues.
A trespasser does not have permission from the property owner or occupier to be on the premises so the only duty owed to them is to avoid carelessly or willfully harming them.
The status of the hazard
Georgia law divides the dangers that can lead to slip and fall cases into two categories:
- Static defects: Any type of permanent or structural defect, such as stairs, ramps, doorways, flooring, sidewalks, manholes, etc.
- Foreign objects: Spilled liquids, dropped food, misplaced floormats, grease, and other items not meant to be where they are.
Regardless of which category, if you knew the hazard was present and still hurt yourself, you are generally not going to have a valid case due to your equal knowledge with the property owner or occupier. The same result will likely occur if you previously saw the danger under the prior traverse rule.
Premises Liability Statute of Limitations
Georgia’s statute of limitations requires that a lawsuit for personal injuries be filed within two years after the date the incident occurred. While certain specific exceptions may apply, it’s best to consider this timeframe a rule and consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.
What To Do If You Slip and Fall at Work
If you slip and fall at work, you treat the situation like any other workplace injury case. Seek medical attention, report the incident to your employer or supervisor, document the accident scene, or have someone do it for you if you are physically unable, and then speak to a lawyer about your situation.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can be caused by a variety of unsafe conditions on a property, including but not limited to:
- Pavement defects
- Ice and snow accumulation
- Worn or torn carpet and other uneven flooring
- Broken handrails
- Spilled liquids or other items
- Stray cords and wires
- Poor lighting
Slip and Fall Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I hire a slip and fall lawyer?
In order to secure the maximum amount of financial compensation possible after a slip and fall accident, a qualified premises liability attorney can help a victim resolve their claims with an insurance company and/or any other responsible parties either via settlement or in court at trial. As part of this process, your lawyer will collect evidence, prove negligence, negotiate with the defendants, and more. These are steps personal injury lawyers take every single day, so they will absolutely know how to do them better than if you tried to go it alone.
Who can be held liable in a slip and fall case?
Slip and fall accidents hold property owners, occupiers, and managers responsible for any injuries on their premises if the harm is caused by their negligence. The duty of these parties to a particular individual will depend on that individual’s status as a visitor – whether invitee, licensee, or trespasser. In addition to the parties mentioned, the government can also be potentially liable; and, if so, special rules may apply to your claims.
What should I do immediately after a slip and fall accident?
After a slip, trip, and/or fall incident, you should seek medical treatment, report the accident to the manager, owner, or landlord of the property where you were hurt, document evidence including witness contact details, pictures of the location, and notes about what happened while it is fresh in your mind, put the clothes and shoes you were wearing at the time of the slip and fall in a safe place, don’t post on social media, call a lawyer before giving any statements.
Contact a Georgia Slip and Fall Lawyer
If you have been injured by the negligence of a property owner or occupier in Georgia, you deserve to seek justice and obtain a full recovery for your losses. Premises liability laws are complex, and therefore hiring an attorney will help ensure the full protection of your legal rights. A premises liability lawyer can evaluate your claim and help you determine the best course of action to pursue. Our personal injury law firm team is experienced in representing clients who have been seriously injured and the surviving family members of those who have been fatally injured as the result of premises liability accidents.