A slip and fall accident can happen almost anywhere. The attorneys at Butler Law Firm want you to know that you should not feel embarrassed after this kind of accident. If your slip-and-fall accident was caused by someone else’s negligence – for example, stairs that were not maintained according to building codes, or a leak on the floor that you couldn’t see – you should not be the one paying for your medical bills. We can talk with you about your legal rights.
It costs nothing to talk with us at Butler Law Firm. Call us or reach out to us online to discuss how we can help you maximize your compensation after a slip-and-fall accident.
Common Causes of Slip-and-Fall Accidents
Slip-and-fall accidents occur for many different reasons. Sometimes, of course, the person who slipped is responsible, and in that circumstance, there is no legal case for us to bring. But on other occasions, a property owner or business operator may have caused the slip. In those circumstances, the injured person may have a case or claim arising out of the slip-and-fall accident under Georgia’s “premises liability” law.
For example, grocery stores and other businesses have a responsibility to keep their places of business – called their “premises” – reasonably safe. That means that they should clean up dangerous spills reasonably quickly. If there is a spill of water, or if water is leaking out of a freezer into an aisle, customers could slip, fall, and be hurt. In those circumstances, the business owner may be liable under Georgia law, and would have to compensate people who have been hurt as a result of their negligence.
Trip hazards are another example. When a business has stairs or flooring on different levels, for instance, those stairs or steps have to conform to various building and safety codes adopted by the county, city, or state of Georgia. If the stairs aren’t built to code, the handrail is broken, the steps aren’t correctly marked, or the surface is unreasonably uneven or hazardous, the business owner can be responsible for injuries caused by those defects. This is another aspect of premises liability law in Georgia, and is another reason that a property or business owner might have to compensate people who have been hurt.
A few examples of some of the most common causes of slip-and-fall accidents include:
- Spilled liquids on the floor of a store, workplace, or hotel
- Slippery walkways, sidewalks, and parking lots, especially if there’s rain, snow, or ice on the ground
- Objects left on the floor of a store, workplace, or an office
- Poorly maintained sidewalks or other pathway
- Cords and stray electrical wires that pose a tripping hazard
- Broken or damaged handrails on staircases or other walkways
- Poor lighting that obscures a trip or slip hazard
- Nursing homes or assisted living facilities with poor upkeep on floors
- Unsafe walkways around swimming pools
- Construction site hazards
Common Places Where Slip-and-Fall Accidents Occur
Because there are so many ways for slip-and-fall accidents to happen, they can occur on virtually any type of property. Here are some of the most common places where these kinds of accidents happen:
- Grocery stores
- Big-box stores
- Movie theaters
- Sports stadiums
- Public parks and playgrounds
- Amusement parks
- Apartment complexes, condos, townhomes, and other rental properties
- Swimming pools
- Construction sites
- Parking garages and parking lots
- Nursing homes and assisted living facilities
- Elevators and escalators
Getting Medical Attention After a Fall
When you are injured from a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident, getting medical attention is the best thing you can do for yourself. You only have one body, so take care of it! If you’ve been hurt, you are doing the best thing for yourself in terms of healing and in terms of your legal case by seeing a doctor as soon as you can after a slip-and-fall incident occurs.
If you weren’t hurt, count yourself lucky. You won’t have to spend time going to medical visits or consulting with lawyers.
What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt in a Fall
Keep calm. Our Atlanta injury law firm has handled enough cases to be able to say with confidence that panicking does not help anyone. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed immediately following the accident. However, if you can keep a cool head you will be able to assess your injuries and the situation.
Here’s what you need to do after being involved in a slip-and-fall accident:
- Seek medical attention immediately – Put your health first and seek the medical treatment you need as soon as possible. If you’ve been hurt, go to your doctor or an urgent care center as soon as you can. Slip-and-fall accidents can lead to traumatic brain injuries, back injuries, and other health issues that may not be immediately noticeable. The sooner you seek care, the sooner you’ll know what has happened, and you can begin receiving the treatment you need.
- Inspect the scene and take pictures – Slip-and-fall accidents often happen so suddenly that you may not see what caused you to slip until you’re already on the ground. After calling for help, take a look at the area where you fell and try to determine what caused you to slip. Is there a spill that wasn’t cleaned up? Did the property owner post inadequate warnings about potential hazards? These are all crucial questions if you’re considering a personal injury claim after a slip-and-fall accident. Take pictures and video of the area where you fell, as these images may be crucial evidence later on.
- Identify any eyewitnesses – If there was anyone nearby who may have seen you slip, their testimony may be valuable evidence when it comes to proving fault for damages. Get the names and contact info for anyone in the area who saw the accident. Too often, if these witnesses’ names aren’t written down immediately, they’re lost forever.
- Write down what happened – Seeking compensation for a slip-and-fall injury can take a long time, and people’s memories fade quickly. As soon as you can, write down a narrative of what happened in your accident. Be as detailed as possible, and be sure to keep track of your pain and the impact of any injuries on your daily life.
- Contact an attorney – If you’re considering filing a claim for damages after a slip-and-fall accident, you need help from a good personal injury attorney. Our accident lawyers are ready to explain your legal options, walk you through the process of filing a damages claim, and help you effectively pursue your claim.
Can I File a Claim Against a Store If I Fell on Their Property?
This will depend on the circumstances surrounding the slip-and-fall. Your attorney can help go over the evidence to determine if there was any negligence involved.
If the property owner knew of the situation or was given ample time to remedy a dangerous situation and did not – and that inattention or negligence resulted in the slip and fall that caused your injuries – then you may have a case for a slip-and-fall injury claim.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Slip-and-Fall Claim?
If you decide to file a claim for damages after a slip-and-fall accident, you’ll need to prove negligence on the part of the owner or manager of the property where the accident happened. To prove negligence in a slip-and-fall claim you must provide evidence that:
- The property owner, manager, or other responsible party owed you a duty of care.
- There were dangerous conditions on the property that led to the accident and your injuries.
- The property owner or manager was aware or reasonably should have been aware that there was a hazard that could cause an accident.
- The property owner or manager did not take steps to either remove the hazard or provide adequate warning to anyone who visited the property.
Georgia law generally imposes a duty of “reasonable care” or “ordinary care” when someone visits a property as a customer or a tenant, because that person is classified as an “invitee” under Georgia’s premises liability law. The more complicated parts of proving a claim involve demonstrating that there was some type of hazard, that the property owner or manager should have known about the hazard, and that the accident led to the injuries you’ve experienced.
Your attorney can focus on building a case that demonstrates the responsible party’s negligence and the extent of your injuries that resulted from the accident.
Compensation Available After a Slip-and-Fall Accident
If you can prove someone else was liable for your accident, you can pursue compensation for your injuries and other losses. Compensation for slip-and-fall accidents is generally broken down into two categories:
- Economic damages – These are essentially any financial losses you suffered in your accident that you can easily assign a specific dollar value to. This includes things like your medical costs (doctors’ visits, surgeries, other medical procedures or tests, physical therapy, prescription drugs, transportation to doctors’ offices), lost wages due to missed work, out-of-pocket costs to modify your home after the accident (for example, if your mobility has been impacted and you need a wheelchair), and so on. It can include future medical costs, if those can be predicted with reasonable accuracy.
- Non-economic damages – These include any losses you sustained that don’t have a specific dollar amount. These damages can be harder to calculate, but they’re just as real for accident victims, and often even more important. Non-economic damages include compensation for pain and suffering and interference with normal living, for example.
A final potential category of compensation for slip-and-fall accidents is called punitive damages. These are penalties assessed by the courts in rare cases where property owners act recklessly, meaning that they consciously disregarded a known risk, or if they purposefully caused the accident for some reason.
Time Limit for Filing a Slip-and-Fall Claim in Georgia
All personal injury claims in Georgia are subject to the state’s statute of limitations. This means that in most cases, you only have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. If you have not filed a claim by this point, you most likely will lose your chance to pursue any compensation from the responsible party.
Two years may seem like a long time, but the sooner you speak to an attorney after an accident, the better your chance of recovering full compensation. It takes time to gather the necessary evidence to prove a slip-and-fall claim, and the legal proceedings take time. We recommend speaking to a lawyer as soon as possible after an accident if you’re considering filing any sort of claim for compensation.
How Can a Slip-and-Fall Attorney Help?
If you’ve never had experience with the legal system before, you may be wondering what a lawyer does and how exactly they can help you after a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident. After all, if you have evidence that someone else was responsible for your injuries, it should be easy to get them to pay up, right?
Most property owners – and their insurers – will put up a strong fight against any negligence claim, even if they know they’re responsible for the injury. They don’t want to pay for your injuries, or they want to pay as little as they can get away with. If you want fair compensation, you’re going to need to go through the legal system.
A slip-and-fall accident attorney makes filing any claim for damages much easier. Lawyers have special training and knowledge about these kinds of claims, and they know what type of evidence is required to prove fault.
They can gather evidence and respond to any requests for information from the other party’s lawyers or insurance adjusters. Insurance companies will often try to get you to make a statement about your injuries, but you should be careful about giving any statement without speaking to a good lawyer first. You’ll be giving that statement to an insurance professional who has a monetary incentive to get you to say something that will harm your case or claim.
Most importantly, an attorney will seek compensation on your behalf for everything you’re entitled to after an accident. We’re here to make sure your rights are protected, and pursue compensation you need to get back on your feet.
Call or Contact Us Online to Discuss Your Situation
If you think we may be able to help you with your slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall case, please contact us by phone or online. Talking with us is free.