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Parking Lot “Slip and Fall” Claim Against Property Owner Goes Forward

Every negligence case must be evaluated by its own facts and circumstances.  It is precisely the facts of a case – and how they 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.

Georgia law sets forth a clear standard for premises liability cases.  A plaintiff is expected to plead and provide evidence that, 1) the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard, and 2) the plaintiff, despite exercising ordinary care, lacked knowledge of the hazard due to defendant’s actions or to conditions under the defendant’s control. After reviewing this standard, the court of appeals reversed the decision, concluding that there were issues of fact surrounding each element that precluded summary judgment.  While the court pointed out that the evidence of the circumstances surrounding plaintiff’s fall were somewhat conflicting, Georgia law requires the court to construe the evidence in plaintiff’s favor.

In order to understand how a court will treat a premises liability claim for damages, it is critical that you contact an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible.  Stephen M. Ozcomert has over 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases, representing individuals who have been injured in premises liability incidents in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. Call us today at (404)-370-1000 to schedule your free initial consultation, or you can reach us through our website.

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