Slip & fall cases occur most often from slip, trip, and fall accidents. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slip and falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims, and the leading cause of injury-related deaths in people 65 and older in the U.S. The most common injuries from slip and falls are hip fractures, head injuries, and spine injuries. There are a variety of elements that can cause slip and falls, as well as other types of slip & fall accidents:
- Wet or slippery floors
- Loose carpeting
- Snow or ice
- Uneven curbs
- Defective stairs
- Inadequate lighting
- Potholes or ditches
- Unmarked construction zones
- Unstable buildings
- Unsecured swimming pools
- Poorly maintained playgrounds
- Lack of property security
- Aggressive or vicious dogs
A defendant may try to use the comparative negligence defense in a slip & fall case. He or she may try to place some of the blame on the victim for failing to pay attention or to recognize an obvious hazard, such as a broken bottle of liquid on the floor. If the defendant proves that a reasonable and prudent property visitor would have avoided the hazard, the courts may place at least part of the blame on the plaintiff. In Georgia, the plaintiff may still recover damages thanks to modified comparative negligence laws. As long as the plaintiff is less than 50% at fault, he or she can still receive compensation.
Establishing Liability for Your Slip & Fall Accident
When a person is injured in a slip and fall, there is a tendency to blame the victim. We assume the fall happened because the victim was clumsy, was wearing the wrong shoes, or just wasn’t paying attention. The truth is, most slip and fall injures are preventable, but it isn’t always the victim that could have prevented it.
Here are some examples:
- Mrs. Green was running errands in Decatur. The elderly woman was walking up the steps to the bank when her foot hit the crumpled edge on one of the concrete steps. She fell and broke her hip. There were no warning signs.
- Carrie was at a restaurant. On the way to the restroom, she tripped on a cord that was strung across the hallway. She injured her back. Because the hallway was dimly lit, she could not see the gray cord on the gray carpet.
- An employee spilled mop water and was cleaning it up. There were caution signs. John noted the caution signs and went to the next aisle. He then slipped on water that had run under the shelves. He broke his ankle.
What Do I Need to Prove for a Slip & Fall Lawsuit?
Like most premises liability claims, slip & fall cases come down to the question of negligence. The courts will need to answer the question, “Was the property owner or possessor negligent in causing the accident?” It is the plaintiff’s burden to prove the defendant’s negligence, recklessness, or intent to harm in these cases. This requires four elements of proof:
- The defendant owned, leased, or was a resident of the property at the time. This assigns a clear duty that the defendant had to ensure the reasonable safety of the property.
- The defendant used the property negligently. The plaintiff must show that the landowner did something that a prudent owner would not have done in the same circumstances. The question of negligence depends on the visitor’s relationship with the landowner.
- The defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries. There must be a causal link between the defendant’s act of negligence in caring for the property and the plaintiff’s injuries.
- The plaintiff suffered real damages. Real damages include medical bills, lost wages from missed work, physical pain, and emotional suffering. If the accident didn’t cause damage, there is nothing for the plaintiff to recover.
Retaining an attorney can make proving a slip & fall claim in Atlanta much easier. Attorneys understand the state and local laws, and property owner responsibilities. Kaufman Law, P.C. has four decades of experience representing clients who sustained serious injuries, or whose loved ones died, in slip & fall accidents. If this sounds like your situation, contact us for a free consultation.