Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

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spillIn states around the country, including Georgia, property owners owe individuals who come onto their property a basic duty to protect them from harm.  This means that property owners cannot knowingly maintain harmful or dangerous conditions on their property, such as broken railings or deep holes, that put the public at risk. But what about circumstances in which it is not clear that the property owner is aware the dangerous condition exists? In certain circumstances, the owner can be held liable for conditions he or she should have known existed, but owners will not automatically be held liable for an unknown harm just because it caused an injury.

In Youngblood v. All American Quality Foods, Inc., Ms. Youngblood was injured after she slipped and fell in a puddle of water that had formed at a grocery store. She was injured in the accident and sued All American Quality Foods, also known as Food Depot, for her injuries. She argued that Food Depot had a duty to use ordinary care in keeping its grocery stores safe for customers. In response, Food Depot moved for summary judgment, arguing that it had no notice that the water puddle existed and could not reasonably have prevented it from causing Ms. Youngblood’s injuries.  The trial court agreed.  Ms. Youngblood appealed.

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caution-tripping-hazard-1439458-mIn most personal injury lawsuits, whether the claims arise from a car accident or a fall on another’s property, the likelihood of achieving a monetary recovery will depend on several items. First, the underlying facts and circumstances will play a significant role in whether the injured party is likely to recover. Secondly, the plaintiff must know and understand the particular laws and procedural requirements that must be met in order to successfully bring claims for damages. And thirdly, it is extremely important that the injured party contact an experienced attorney who has handled such cases within the local Atlanta area, who can assess the facts and prepare a strategy appropriate for the unique circumstances of your case.

In a recent slip-and-fall case, Smith v. NT Nails, LLC (Ga. Ct. of App. 2015), the plaintiff brought an action against a nail salon for personal injuries she allegedly sustained after falling on a wet floor at the salon. The salon moved for summary judgment, claiming that plaintiff “knowingly and voluntarily” made the choice to walk across a floor that had been recently mopped. Plaintiff appealed the decision, arguing that summary judgment was inappropriate because, although she was aware of the hazard, she had no choice but to walk on the wet floor in order to pay and leave the salon. Essentially, plaintiff argued that the trial court should not have found that she “assumed the risk” of injury.

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Slip-and-fall negligence cases arise under many different sets of circumstances. Depending on the particular facts, a plaintiff who has been injured may or may not be entitled to a recovery. One aspect of liability concerns the relationship between the injured party and the entity or person who is allegedly at fault. According toparking-lot-11313-m Georgia law, a business owner owes a duty of ordinary care to its invitees. But courts have held that this non-delegable duty of care is not applicable to an independent contractor. While this may seem confusing, an experienced injury attorney would know precisely how the local laws will apply to your injury case. If you have been injured on another’s property, be sure to consult with an Atlanta injury lawyer as soon as possible after the incident.

In a recent negligence case, Davidson et al. v. Meticulously Clean Sweepers, LLC (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), plaintiff Nancy Davidson fell outside a “Dollar Tree” store, in a shopping center that was owned by three corporate entities, referred to here as “Rivergate.” After she was injured, the plaintiff and her husband brought an action against Dollar Tree, the manager of Dollar Tree, Rivergate, its property management company, and Meticulously Clean Sweepers (“MCS”) – an independent contractor that treated the area in question with a de-icing mixture the night before the plaintiff fell.

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Plaintiffs who are injured on another’s property, due to a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall incident, may consider bringing an action against the owner parking-799192-mto recover damages for injuries sustained. Depending on the circumstances of the case, including the potential defendants involved, there are many important legal issues to take into account. For example, if any of the defendants is a state entity, it may be able to assert a defense of sovereign immunity. But Georgia law provides for a limited waiver of the State’s immunity in tort actions. These cases are fact-specific, and the results may vary depending on the situation. If you have been injured on another’s property, you may be entitled to compensation for your suffering and losses. It is important that you contact an injury lawyer from the Atlanta area, who is fully aware of the local laws and procedures affecting your particular case.

When a party has a potential tort claim against the State, that person is required to provide the State with notice of the claim prior to filing the suit. The purpose of the law is to make certain that the State receives sufficient notice of the claim in order to facilitate settlement before a lawsuit is filed. Therefore, if a plaintiff fails to satisfy the notice requirements, the State does not waive sovereign immunity, and a court would lack subject matter jurisdiction over the case. Over time, Georgia courts have held that strict compliance with the notice statute is necessary.

In a recent Georgia Supreme Court case, Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia v. Myers, the plaintiff was injured after stepping in an un-repaired pothole in a parking lot of a college campus that is part of the University System of Georgia. The plaintiff sent a notice of claim to the defendant, the University System’s Board of Regents (the “Board”), under the Georgia Tort Claims Act. The plaintiff’s notice alleged a negligence claim against the Board, due to the unsafe condition of the parking lot at the College. While the plaintiff described the ensuing injury as a fractured ankle and torn tendons, she did not state the amount of the loss, since she was still incurring medical bills and was unsure of the extent of her injury.

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caution-tripping-hazard-1439458-m (1)A premises liability action may also be known as a “slip-and-fall” or “trip-and-fall” case. Property owners have a legal duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. If a person is injured on another’s property, he or she may be able to bring a claim against the owner to recover for his or her suffering and losses. There are many elements to a premises liability action. By law, a plaintiff must plead and prove these elements in order to succeed with the claim. If you have been injured on another’s property, you are encouraged to contact a local injury attorney who is fully familiar with the laws applicable to cases brought in and around the Atlanta area.

Depending on the circumstances, an injured party may not be able to recover. In a recent case, Milledgeville Manor Partners, LLC v. Lewis (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), Lewis was a tenant of Milledgeville Manor Partners (“MMP”) when she was injured after falling in a hole on the property behind her apartment. Lewis brought this premises liability action against MMP to recover damages for her injuries. According to the facts of the case, Lewis was using a clothesline behind her apartment when she saw a small hole in the ground. Some weeks later, she realized that the hole was getting bigger and told another tenant (who was also the groundskeeper) about the hole, and pointed out where it was.

Lewis later informed another MMP employee about the hole. She did not check to see whether the hole had been repaired. Approximately two and a half weeks after informing the groundskeeper about the hole, Lewis left her apartment through the back door and walked near the clothesline and stepped into the hole. She fell and fractured her ankle. At this point, Lewis alleged that the hole was around six inches deep and obscured by grass that had grown to cover the hole. Continue reading

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trolley-563132-mA fundamental aspect of any personal injury case is the state-governed time period within which a plaintiff is eligible to bring an action for damages:  the statute of limitations. Section 9-3-33 of the Georgia Code provides that actions for injuries to the person shall be brought within two years after the right of action accrues, with some exceptions. If an injured party fails to adhere to this requirement, he or she will be foreclosed from recovering for his or her suffering and losses. For this reason alone, it is important to contact an experienced injury attorney who is fully aware of the laws affecting cases brought in and around the Atlanta area.

In a recent premises liability case, DeMott v. Old Town Trolley Tours of Savannah, Inc. (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), the court granted summary judgment in favor of Old Town Trolley because the plaintiff failed to bring the action before the statute of limitations expired. Here, the plaintiff entered the Savannah Visitor Center with the intention of taking a trolley tour of the City of Savannah. She bought tickets for the tour and walked across the parking lot to an information kiosk to find out where to board the trolley. She was told to walk back to where she purchased the tickets. During the walk back across the parking lot, her husband told her to “watch the potholes.” She attempted to step around a pothole, but the asphalt gave way and she fell.

She first brought a premises liability action against the City of Savannah but later found out that Old Town Trolley owned the parking lot where she fell. Three years after the incident, DeMott amended her complaint to allege a premises liability claim against the trolley company. Old Town Trolley moved for summary judgment, arguing that the statute of limitations had expired, and plaintiff was foreclosed from bringing the action. The plaintiff again amended her complaint, now asserting a breach of contract claim against Old Town Trolley as a “common carrier,” arguing that it was negligent or breached its contract with her. It is established law in Georgia that ticket holders have a right of action for the breach of contract of “carriage.” Continue reading

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danger-sign-1088023-mUnder Georgia law, property owners are under a legal duty to maintain the premises, including the “approaches,” in a condition free of unreasonable risk of foreseeable harm to the invited public. Depending on the circumstances, a person who is injured on another’s property may be able to seek damages for any pain, suffering, and losses sustained. In order to bring an action in a “slip and fall” case, one must plead and prove two items:  first, that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard, and second, that the plaintiff, acting with ordinary care, lacked knowledge of the hazard due to the defendant’s actions or to conditions under the defendant’s control. The law can be complicated. but an experienced injury attorney from the Atlanta area would be able to review your case and determine your potential right to compensation.

The outcome of a premises liability case will depend a great deal on the facts and circumstances surrounding the claim, as well as the adequacy of the case presented and argued. In a recent case, Henderson, et al. v. St. Paul Baptist Church (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), the court of appeals reversed the lower court’s decision and allowed the plaintiff’s slip and fall case to go forward. Here, the Hendersons were visiting St. Paul Baptist Church as visiting pastors at the invitation of Amos Lee, Jr., St. Paul’s pastor. Lee directed the Hendersons to park their car behind his, on church property to the left of the building. As Mrs. Henderson got out of the car, she stepped in a hole and fell, fracturing her leg.

The Hendersons brought a claim against the Church for premises liability and loss of consortium. The Church moved for summary judgment, claiming that it could not be liable for Mrs. Henderson’s injuries because they occurred when she attempted to take a “short cut” to the side entrance of the church, instead of walking to the designated route to the front of the building. Lee had testified that the hole Mrs. Henderson fell in was a “trench” that was intentionally dug in order to keep newly planted shrubbery watered. That trench was not visible because it was covered in pine straw and leaves, and there was no indication or marking in any way. Lee admitted that he did not warn the Hendersons about the trench. Continue reading

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Under Georgia law, an owner or occupier of land has a legal duty to maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition for dont-slip-477423-minvitees. This does not mean that the owner is insuring the safety of people invited on its property. In fact, in order to bring an action for premises liability (a.k.a. a slip-and-fall case) one must present evidence of a hazardous condition that caused the plaintiff to fall and sustain injuries. People who are injured in a fall on another’s property may be entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering. Each case is fact-specific and must be analyzed by an experienced injury attorney with full knowledge of the laws applicable to cases brought in and around the Atlanta area.

In a recent case, Bryan Bank & Trust v. Steele (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), the plaintiff, Bonnie Steele, fell on the sidewalk outside the Bank and suffered injuries. During her deposition, Steele described seeing a metal edging around a flowerbed next to the sidewalk while walking into the Bank. On her way out, she took the same route back but suddenly fell and landed on her back. She could not say for certain what caused her to fall, stating that she believed it was the fencing (metal edging) because it appeared to be protruding out. Upon further questioning, Steele acknowledged that the fencing could have been moved as a result of the fall. In essence, plaintiff was unable to state for sure whether the fencing was on the sidewalk before or after she fell.

The Bank moved for summary judgment, but the trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals granted the Bank’s application for interlocutory review of the trial court’s decision. The Bank alleged that plaintiff provided no evidence of a hazardous condition. After reviewing the facts, the court of appeals pointed out that Steele did not know how she fell or what caused her to fall. Further, she was unable to state whether she tripped or struck her foot against some object. While plaintiff assumed that she tripped on the fence border, she also admitted that her fall might have been what caused it to move. Continue reading

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Every negligence case must be evaluated by its own facts and circumstances.  It is precisely the facts of a case – and how caution-tripping-hazard-1439458-mthey are interpreted according to the applicable law — that will determine whether an injured party will be eligible for a recovery. Whether a premises liability claim arises from an incident in Atlanta or anywhere throughout the state, Georgia law clearly sets forth the elements that must be pleaded and proven.  Presenting one’s case, in accordance with the local requirements, can significantly impact the outcome.  If you have been injured on another’s property, you may be entitled to damages. It is critical that you contact a local injury attorney (as soon as possible after the incident) who has experience handling premises liability claims.

A recent case, Pinder v. H & H Foods Services, LLC d/b/a Kentucky Fried Chicken (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), is a good example of how the facts of a case can impact the court’s findings.  Here, in a premises liability cause of action, the court of appeals reviewed a trial court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of the property owners. Plaintiff claimed that she suffered injuries from a fall in a Kentucky Fried Chicken parking lot that occurred around 7:30 in the evening, when it was “dark or getting dark.”  Plaintiff alleged that while stepping down off the curb, she caught her foot between a handicap ramp and a parking bumper, twisted, turned, fell into a vehicle and landed on her knee.

The trial court granted the defendants’ summary judgment motion finding that no issue of material fact existed regarding whether: 1) the handicap ramp was improperly constructed or designed, 2) the parking bumper (or the condition it was in) caused or was a factor in the fall, or 3) whether the lighting in the area was sufficient or not.  The court also found that plaintiff failed to present any issues of fact as to whether defendants had actual or constructive knowledge of the alleged condition (or superior knowledge of same) and, was negligent for walking in the dark.  Plaintiff appealed. Continue reading

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graduation-784495-mEach personal injury action presents a different set of facts that have the potential to alter the outcome of the case. In slip and fall cases, also known as “premises liability” actions, plaintiffs must plead and prove certain required elements in order to establish liability and recover for their injuries. The extent to which a plaintiff successfully pleads and proves a negligence case will directly impact his or her right to a recovery for damages. If you have sustained an injury due to another’s negligence, it is critical that you contact an Atlanta area injury attorney as soon as possible after the incident occurs to preserve and protect your rights.

In a recent case, Austin v. Clark, et al., Ga. Sup. Ct. (2014), the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s decision granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss based on official immunity. Essentially, the Court allowed the case to move forward so that the parties would have ample opportunity to conduct a sufficient amount of discovery to either prove or disprove the asserted claims. Here, the plaintiff, Donna Austin, brought a personal injury action against the Superintendent of Peach County Schools and various other school administrators (hereinafter “Clark”), seeking damages that she allegedly sustained from a fall on a sidewalk at the high school after attending a graduation ceremony.

Specifically, plaintiff claimed that while she was on school district property, she stepped into a roadway from the sidewalk and her leg got caught in an opening on the area where water drains from the road. Austin alleged that the defendants in this case negligently performed the “ministerial” duties of inspection, maintenance and repair of the sidewalk and road where the accident occurred. The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the claims were barred by the doctrine of official immunity. The trial court agreed with defendants and granted the motion. The court of appeals affirmed the decision. The Georgia Supreme Court agreed to hear the case to determine whether the defendants were entitled to the motion to dismiss based on the doctrine of official immunity. Continue reading