Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

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Each 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

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Many premises liability causes of action are based on a plaintiff’s “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” claim. The Georgia Supreme Court has identified two elements that a plaintiff must plead and prove in order to bring a viable slip and fall claim: 1) that the defendant had either actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard; and 2) the plaintiff, despite exercising ordinary care, had no knowledge of the hazard due to the defendant’s actions or to conditions under the defendant’s control. While the basic concept of liability may seem straightforward, the particular facts of each case will determine the ultimate outcome.  An experienced Atlanta premises liability attorney will be able to quickly identify the critical components of your case to determine eligibility for compensation.

In a recent case, Kroger Company v. Schoenhoff, Ga. Ct. App. (2013), Steve and Melanie Schoenhoff (the “plaintiffs”) filed a personal injury and loss of consortium action against the Kroger Company (the “defendant”) after Melanie slipped and fell while she was shopping at a Kroger store in Georgia.  As Melanie was walking through the floral area of the store, she slipped and fell in a clear liquid, identified as water, in front of the floral display case. Melanie’s testimony revealed that she was watching where she was walking, but did not see anything on the floor until after she fell.  The evidence also showed that Kroger had no actual knowledge of the water on the floor before the incident.  The issue at trial was whether the store had “constructive knowledge” of the water on the floor in the location where Melanie slipped and fell.

There are certain ways that a plaintiff may show that a defendant had constructive knowledge: 1) if an employee was in the immediate area where the fall occurred and had the chance to fix the hazardous condition before the fall, or 2) if the hazardous condition had existed for a sufficient length of time that it would have been discovered and remedied had the property or business owner exercised reasonable care in inspecting the premises.  Here, the jury found in favor of plaintiffs, awarding Melanie over $2.6 million in damages, and Steve Schoenhoff $150,000 for his loss of consortium claim. Continue reading

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A slip and fall may cause far more than just bruises and embarrassment. Falling may cause traumatic brain injury.

We’ve likely all done this: slipped on something and taken what we laughingly refer to as a “prat fall.” We may have gotten up off the floor and been just fine, aside from bruised ego and some cuts and scrapes. Not everyone is that lucky though. Some slip and fall accidents end up with serious consequences, such as traumatic brain injury.

Consider the case of the woman shopping at her local grocery store where they had a garden section just outside the main doors. She wanted some flowers for her garden and as she was walking along one of the outside aisles, covered with linoleum, she slipped in an unseen puddle, fell and struck her head on the floor. The floor under the linoleum is concrete. She was knocked unconscious and by the time she came to in the hospital, she was told she had a serious concussion.

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Slip and fall accidents may be more than just embarrassing. They may cause serious injuries and even death.

“Premises liability is a tricky area of the law and there are several things that need to be in place before a good case is made to take to court. Let’s take a look at a case we heard about recently that involved an entrepreneur with her own business that badly injured her knee in a slip and fall at a grocery store,” said Stephen M. Ozcomert who handles personal injury cases, accidents, and malpractice law in Atlanta, Georgia.

The woman in question was shopping at a local grocery store where she slipped and fell in a high traffic area due to standing water on a concrete floor. The condition was made even worse because the water had plant food and organic soil in it, which made the surface of the concrete very slick. “In other words, this was not just standing water on concrete. It was standing water with additives that made the surface of the concrete slippery,” Ozcomert pointed out.

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Not all slip and falls take place outside after tripping over something on the ground or by slipping on a wet surface at the supermarket.

Consider the case of a woman who died after falling while trying to climb out of her hospital bed. She sustained some severe injuries after her fall and eventually succumbed to them. The crux of this particular case is the fact that the woman was a known fall risk.

When the lady was admitted to hospital she was given what is called a close call device, attached to the woman’s gown. The idea behind these gadgets is that they alert hospital staff when the patient attempts to leave her bed. In this case, the woman tried to get out of her bed one day in June 2008, but failed in that attempt and fell instead. The nursing station was never alerted by the apparatus attached to her gown.

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Premises liability law has been around for a lot of years, but still, many people don’t really understand what it means.

To put this simply, premises liability is all about someone falling and injuring themselves due to the carelessness or negligence of a business or property owner. If this happens, the victim has a right to pursue compensation for those injuries.

Typically, the person who owns a business or operates it, is liable for dangerous conditions that they know about and either don’t deal with them, and/or don’t warn people about the potentially dangerous situation. The other side of the coin is that they “should” have known about the dangerous condition by regularly inspecting the property.