Slip and Fall Attorney Serving Savannah and all of Georgia
Slip and fall cases are very common and are usually due to the negligence of a business or property owner. However, how successful your case will be depend largely on intricate details that can get lost if you wait too long to pursue legal action.
As with other negligence cases, the elements needed to be proven in a slip and fall case include:
- The defendant had a duty
- The defendant breached their duty
- The defendant’ breach was the cause of the injury
Duty Owed to Customers
The type of duty owed by the business or property owner depends upon your reason for being on the property in the first place.
The law in Georgia has outlined three distinct types of classifications for potential claimants in a slip and fall case:
An invitee is considered to be a person with an express or implied right to come onto an owner’s property. An example of an invitee would be a customer of a business. A customer is invited to enter a business, during business hours, for purposes related to the business dealings associated with the premises. Thus, a customer who enters a grocery store for the purposes of buying groceries would be considered an invitee.
Business owners owe invitees a duty to exercise ordinary care for their protection while they remain on the property.
A licensee is considered to be a person who is not an invitee or a trespasser but is granted access to the property. Examples of licensees include but are not limited to; social guests, visiting sales people and firefighters responding to a call for help.
Property owners are only liable for the injury of a licensee if the owner knowingly allowed the licensee to run into hidden peril or willfully caused the injury. In other words, the licensee entered the property at their own risk.
A trespasser is a person who enters the property belonging to another without permission. The property owner owes a trespasser the duty of not injuring him willfully or wantonly. The property owner is under no obligation to keep the property safe but is required to warn a trespasser who he sees in a position to get hurt.
If you are able to prove that you had a protected status while on the owner’s property that warranted an owed duty on behalf of the owner, and that the owner breached that duty, you still need to prove that the breach was the cause of your injury to ultimately have a chance at a successful outcome to your case.
Causation needs to be proven in both actual as well as proximate terms.
Actual causation requires that the owner’s breach of duty be the cause in fact of your injury.
For example, but for the store clerk leaving broken glass on the floor, you, the customer, would not have stepped on the glass and sustained injury.
Proximate cause refers to how foreseeable an injury would be as a result of the action or in action of the owner. This protects potential owners from being liable for injuries that were in no way predictable as a result of their action or inaction. Therefore, in order for a recovery to be permitted, the injury must have been close in time or within the chain of causation linked to the action or inaction of the owner.
It is foreseeable that the act of leaving broken glass, a dangerous substance, on the floor would result in injury. Thus, it is likely that the act of leaving the broken glass on the floor was both the actual and proximate cause of the injury.
The Slip and Fall
Every slip and fall case is different because each case revolves around how the claimant became injured.
For example, if an injury was sustained and that injury can be proven, the cause of the slip and fall will be examined to determine who is liable.
The following actions may help establish liability and put you in the best position for a successful outcome:
- Taking pictures of the area that caused your fall
- Locating people that may have seen your fall
- Speaking with store personnel
- Recording any comments made at the scene of the accident that could be associated with liability
- Finding out if this type of incident has happened on the property before and how often
As a claimant, it is important to know the type of defenses that a business owner may raise. Among those are:
- The danger was open and obvious
- A reasonable amount of time had not passed for the dangerous object or material to be cleaned up and the area made safe
- Contributory negligence
Open and Obvious
The open and obvious doctrine is a defense that is often used in slip and fall cases. The rule states that if a reasonable person of reasonable intelligence would have seen and avoided the cause of the injury, then the business owner is protected from liability for the injury. The logic behind the rule is that the obvious and open nature of the danger served as a sufficient warning in and of itself and the owner should not have been required to do additional work to prevent injury.
Reasonable Amount of Time
The law affords property owners protection from liability for situations where preventing the injury was nearly impossible.
For example, if you were injured by slipping on a liquid that had spilled on the ground seconds before the accident occurred, it is possible that an argument can be made that the owner had not yet had a reasonable amount of time to discover and clean up the dangerous liquid. Basically, the owner cannot be held liable for something that he did not have time to fix.
Comparative Fault is the idea that you were at least partially responsible for your injury. By law, your total monetary award is reduced by the percentage of blame assigned to you.
Further, if it is found you were 50% or more at fault for your injury, you cannot recover damages.
Contact us today if you have been injured in a slip & fall accident. We can help you receive the compensation you deserve. You need an experienced attorney you can trust. Call the Law Offices of B. Clarke Nash, P.C. today.