Slip and Falls
Some of the worst injuries our firm has handled are from falls. When someone slips and falls his feet fly out from under him and he lands hard, usually resulting in hip, back, neck and/or head injuries. When someone trips and falls, she instinctively reaches out to break her fall, often resulting in arm, wrist, shoulder and hand injuries. If a person trips and doesn’t get her arm out to break her fall, she may sustain head or knee injuries. Falls from heights like stairs often result in very severe injuries or even death.
There is a common belief that if you are injured on a business’s or individual’s property they are automatically responsible for your harm. That isn’t the law in Georgia. The law in Georgia is that an owner or occupier of property who invites other onto his premises has a duty to keep the premises “safe”. If an owner/occupier is aware of or should be aware of an unsafe condition, then they may be responsible for harms to someone hurt by that unsafe condition. An owner/occupier has a responsibility to inspect their property to be aware of its condition. If there is an unsafe condition, they must correct it or warn people about it.
Unsafe conditions can be a wet floor, steps that aren’t constructed according to code, and a host of other things. Examples of other types of unsafe conditions cases we have handled include:
A broken signpost in a parking lot of a shopping center
An unmarked handicapped ramp
If you are hurt on someone’s property, you need to talk to an attorney promptly. If a report was prepared, get a copy of it. Fall cases are very fact specific. In these cases it is critical to do an investigation and document the condition; learn the identity of and get statements from witnesses; and require the owner/occupier to maintain evidence they have concerning the condition or fall. You should not talk to any adjuster prior to talking to an attorney. Adjusters in these cases know certain questions to ask that can make you lose your case.
While owners/occupiers have a duty to keep their premises safe, people who use those premises have a responsibility to use ordinary care to discover and avoid unsafe conditions. Adjusters are trained to ask lots of very specific questions about your behavior before your fall and will use your answers to make the case that you saw or should have known about the unsafe condition and avoided it. There are cases in Georgia that say if a person doesn’t know what caused her fall, she can’t recover. Adjusters know about that law and will ask questions to try and get you to equivocate on the cause of your fall and then use that against you. There is also law in Georgia that if a person has previously traversed an unsafe condition and should have been aware of it from that, she cannot recover. Adjusters will ask lots of questions to try and establish evidence that you had previously traversed the area and, therefore, can’t recover.
More and more often there is surveillance video that may have captured a fall. Getting in touch with the owner/occupier and making sure that evidence is preserved may be critical to proving your case. A lawyer who handles fall cases will know how to best insure that is saved.
Something else an attorney will do is make sure that all responsible parties are part of your claim. Often the premises occupier is not the owner. Both may be responsible. Determining who all the responsible parties are may mean the difference in you getting a fair recovery or not.
Knowing the many pitfalls that surround fall cases is necessary to effectively handling them. That’s why choosing an attorney who has significant experience in this area of law is so important. We have handled hundreds of fall cases and litigated dozens of them. We are glad to discuss your case with you. When you call us, you won’t get a hard sell. We’ll answer your questions and from there do as little or as much as we can to help.
(If you are a licensee or trespasser, your right to recover may be more limited, learn more.)