A slip and fall accident is the kind of accident that occurs when a person is injured because of a slip, trip, or stumble that results in a fall. When the slip and fall incident occurs on someone else’s property, the owner can be held liable for the injuries and damages that result.
Property owners have an obligation to keep their property safe for all visitors. This entails keeping the flooring, sidewalks, and landscaped areas safe and well maintained. This includes removing debris, cleaning up any spills, clearing away snow and ice following a storm, as well as fixing any broken gutters, handrails, steps, and other items or areas that require regular maintenance.
In case a property owner doesn’t fulfill this duty and fails to warn visitors about the potentially dangerous or hazardous situation properly, premises liability law comes into play. If a slip and fall accident occurs in such a property, the victim can file a lawsuit against the owner. With the help of an experienced Atlanta slip and fall lawyer, the injured victim can then use the financial compensation they receive to cover their damages, including medical costs, lost wages costs, and any other damages incurred.
The laws covering premises liability in Georgia are quite complex. If you or a loved one are a victim of a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property and there weren’t any warnings or signs to alert you about the hazard, you should consult with an Atlanta personal injury attorney at Greene Legal Group.
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What are the Most Common Slip and Fall Accidents?
The most common causes of slip and fall accidents include:
Uneven or wet surfaces
Based on data from the NFSI (National Floor Safety Institute), 55% of the total slip/trip and fall accidents result from dangerous walking surfaces. Here are some of the issues that can potentially turn a walking surface into a hazard:
- Improper maintenance and structural faults leading to cracked sidewalks, broken floor tiles, torn carpeting, uneven steps, or potholes in streets/parking lots
- Malfunctioning escalators or broken staircases (including missing handrails)
- Unlit walkways or hallways
- Wet/slick or recently washed walkways, staircases, or floors
- Loose floorboards and cluttered floors
- Hazardous debris like tree branches, etc. that does not get cleared up
- Spills that are not properly cleaned up such as in hospitals, stores, nursing homes, etc.
Hazardous weather conditions are a major cause of slip and fall accidents. While it’s almost impossible to predict what the weather will do, municipalities and property owners have the duty to shovel sidewalks, plow streets, and salt walkways and steps.
Many slip and fall accidents occur in workplaces. Some workplaces, especially those in the construction and manufacturing fields require the workers to frequently walk on narrow pathways or slick surfaces. In case the employers fail to provide their workers with adequate safety training, they may be liable if a slip and fall accident occurs.
How Can an Atlanta Slip and Fall Attorney Help Me With My Case?
There are a number of ways that a negligence lawyer in Atlanta can help with your case as outlined below:
Defendants Rarely Accept Responsibility
Many slip and fall accidents happen at workplaces or stores with a lot of money and influence. They aren’t open to accepting blame for the accident unless there’s clear and obvious evidence for their liability. The business or property owner will be more than prepared to fight your claim.
Having your own legal expert looking after your best interests will help even the playing field. They have the skills and experience to handle what the other side might throw at you. When the property owner finds out you have a lawyer by your side, they will be more likely to offer you a fairer settlement.
The defendants will most likely downplay your damages
The defendants of slip and fall accidents try to downplay your injuries and other damages, claiming they are not as serious as you say. They might use tactics such as:
- Contacting you to get a recorded statement from you
- Blaming you for all of the accident or some part of it
- Using anything you say or post online against you
- Intimidating you to accept way less in settlement than you deserve
Having an attorney from the beginning of your case will help to protect your rights and keep you from doing anything that might hurt your case or your recovery.
You need to collect strong, compelling evidence about the accident along with proof of a property manager’s or business owner’s negligence. Otherwise, they could try to claim that you’re to blame for your fall. Your lawyer will know the kind of evidence to gather and how to present it in a convincing manner.
With that in mind, here are some of the ways your slip and fall lawyer in Atlanta, GA, can help your case:
To recover a fair settlement in a slip and fall accident, you need to prove negligence on the defendant’s part. Your lawyer will consider all the possibilities for how the accident might have happened and who was negligent. They will also be well versed in the local premises liability laws and how they relate to your case.
Providing Expert Witnesses
Experienced slip and fall accident lawyers usually have a long list of experts that they can use for expert testimony. For instance, accident reconstruction experts can help show visuals on how the accident happened and medical experts can weigh in on how your injuries occurred. Such resources are invaluable in these kinds of cases.
Proving Your Damages
It’s not enough to claim that you suffered damages from your slip and fall accident. You need to provide proof for damages such as medical costs, pain, and suffering, lost wages, property damage, etc. Your lawyer will know how to compile and present the evidence for your case as convincingly as possible.
Dealing With Insurance Companies on Your Behalf
Insurance companies can be a real pain to deal with for personal injury victims. They are constantly looking for ways to trick you, reduce the value of your claim, and will usually offer a much less settlement amount than you deserve. With a lawyer, you don’t have to worry about dealing with insurance companies. They will be communicating and negotiating with them on your behalf.
What Steps Can Be Taken to Help a Slip and Fall Case?
To give your case the best chance of winning the maximum compensation possible, here are some of the steps you should take to following a slip and fall accident.
Seek Medical Attention
The first step should be seeking medical attention as soon as possible to address your injuries. Don’t forget to keep any medical records related to your injuries, including receipts, x-rays, and medical certificates.
Make an Incident Report
Let the negligent party know about the slip and fall accident, and be sure to keep any records of your correspondence and communication.
Get in Touch With a Lawyer
A slip and fall injury lawyer will help you determine if you’re eligible for a public liability claim and the strength or chances of success. Don’t sign any documents or record statements with the insurance adjusters without consulting with your lawyer.
Take Photos or Videos
It’s important to collect as much evidence as possible to substantiate your public liability claim. This will not only support your case, but also help you maximize your settlement amount. You want to take photos of the accident scene, ideally capturing what caused the slip (such as cracked flooring, spilled liquids, etc.) and your injuries. Where possible, go back to the accident scene the next day to be sure you didn’t miss anything before the fault is repaired.
Gather Contact Information
It’s wise to collect the contact information of the property or business owner, their insurance company, and any witnesses who saw your fall. Keep in mind that witnesses could be crucial in attesting how the accident happened and might even have pictures on the same.
Save Your Clothes
Saving the clothes you wore at the time of the accident is advisable as they can serve as powerful evidence to show that you actually fell and sustained injuries. Additionally, having the clothes you were wearing could counter the insurance adjuster’s claim that your attire was responsible for the fall.
Keep off Social Media
Don’t talk about the accident and your injuries to anyone else other than your attorney, especially on social media. The defendant’s attorneys and the insurance adjusters will routinely check your social media to see if there are any inconsistencies in what you’re saying about the fall or use it as proof that you can perform activities that you claim you’re too injured to do.
Preserve all the evidence you have available, including the accident report, photos of the scene, witness statements, wage documentation, as well as medical bills and prescriptions. Some forms of evidence, such as the surveillance footage will have to be obtained as quickly as possible before they get taped over.
Don’t Speak With the Defendant’s Insurance Company
The defendant’s insurance company might contact you soon after the incident. No matter how friendly they might sound, you should never speak with them about the case. Keep in mind that they’re working for the other side, and their main goal is to minimize your recovery amount. Politely decline to record any statements and ask them to speak with your lawyer instead.
How Can a Slip and Fall Accident be Proven?
In order to prove that your accident was a direct result of the negligence of the business or property owner, you have to prove two key things:
- The owner of the property or business had prior knowledge of the dangerous condition, or that they should have reasonably been aware of its existence.
- As the victim, you didn’t know about the dangerous condition at the time of the accident – there weren’t any warnings posted and you couldn’t see it in time.
Based on these rules, the property owner is allowed a reasonable amount of time to fix the dangerous conditions that might be present. During this time, the owner should keep visitors away or post warning signs about the dangerous area. The exact definition of the word “reasonable” when dealing with slip and fall cases is determined by the jury or judge at the time of negotiations or litigation.
How is Liability Determined in an Atlanta Slip and Fall Case?
In Georgia, slip and fall accidents fall under premises liability law. This law outlines the duty of care that the property owners have to people who use or visit their property. For instance, stores should always be kept safe for all employees, customers, and other members of the public. Property owners also have a duty of care towards their tenants, and should always keep their building safe. The same applies to business premises, hospitals, hotels, nursing homes, etc.
When the property owner fails to keep their premises safe for the public, they can be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result. However, it’s important to note that if your injuries are partly caused by your own carelessness or actions, such as being distracted by a cell phone or ignoring a warning sign, your compensation award will be reduced based on the amount you are comparatively at fault for the accident.
When filing your claim, you might be asked the following questions:
- During the time of the accident, did you have a good reason to be on the premises?
- Did the owner of the business or property provide warning of the dangerous condition that led to the accident?
- Would a person with a reasonable level of caution have noticed and avoided the hazard if in the same situation?
- Were you doing any activities that might have contributed to your injuries?
Such questions will most likely be asked by the defendant’s insurance company to determine if you were acting negligently. Based on how you answer them, it could compromise the success of your cases. That’s why you should contact a Reginald Greene slip and fall accident lawyer to help file your claim and better your chances of winning the case.
How Much is My Slip and Fall Case Worth?
Since every situation is different, it’s hard to say how much one can expect for their slip and fall cases. However, if your injuries were quite significant, you could be eligible for settlement amounts up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In general, your case is worth whatever the total of your damages is. Damages in a slip and fall accident may include:
Always seek medical attention after a slip and fall accident. This will help to create a record of not only your injuries but also how much you pay for your treatments. Medical costs encompass everything ranging from doctor visits and hospital bills to prescriptions, surgeries, and ongoing costs such as rehabilitation or physical therapy.
In case you’re forced to spend time away from work because of your accident, you’re entitled to financial compensation for any lost income.
Pain and Suffering
These damages are harder to quantify and will require insight from an experienced lawyer. They include the pain, mental anguish, and emotional damages you and your loved ones suffered as a result of the accident and your injuries.
For best results here, you need to be your own advocate. Take pictures of the scene of the accident and your injuries as soon as you can, and keep a journal of your experiences right from the time of the accident.
Are there any Time Limits for Filing a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
Slip and fall accident claims must be filed within a given period of time. This is usually referred to as the statute of limitations. Georgia’s statute of limitations is usually two years from the date of the injury.
With this in mind, you should know that there are some important exceptions to these time limits, such as with cases that involve government agencies. While the two-year limit still applies, the law requires you to give notice earlier than this for cases that involve the county, state, or local government employees or agencies. For instance, you should provide a notice of a claim against a government agency within 6 months from the time of injury.
Recover Your Damages With the Help of an Atlanta Slip and Fall Lawyer
When a person suffers injuries in a slip and fall accident, it often leads to mental anguish and financial strain, especially in severe cases, on top of the physical pain experienced with the injuries. However, you shouldn’t have to absorb the losses or pay the medical expenses out of pocket when another person’s negligence caused your injury.
Contact a slip and fall lawyer at the Greene Legal Group today and let them guide you through the lawsuit process, and if you’d like, have them handle the minute details of your case, protect your rights, and represent your best interests while you focus on making a full recovery.
Our Atlanta injury firm can help with your slip and fall accident claim. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with one of our top lawyers and learn more about how we can help.