When you stay at a hotel in Atlanta, you assume the hotel owner takes care to make sure the property is reasonably safe for visitors. Unfortunately, this is not always true. Additionally, you’re expected to stay aware of your surroundings and respond appropriately to them. If you are injured in a slip and fall accident at a hotel in Atlanta, you may be able to recover damages in an Atlanta premises liability claim, but only if the hotel had superior knowledge of the condition that caused your fall. In a recent Georgia appellate case, a plaintiff sued a hotel to obtain damages she’d suffered when she slipped and fell on a sidewalk at the defendant’s hotel.
The case arose when a grandmother and her grandchildren stayed at the defendant’s hotel. One evening they went to the hotel pool. There was nothing slippery on the sidewalk as they went from the hotel room to the pool, which was nearby. The grandmother stayed in the pool area for about an hour. There were about six other guests there. After an hour, the grandmother took the youngest child to the bathroom. It was evening, and the child was dripping water. There were lights over the sidewalk, which revealed it was slick and wet. Some enamel on the sidewalk was peeling. The grandmother told the child to slow down, realizing the area was wet. However, she slipped and fell on the sidewalk, and sustained injuries.
She sued the hotel for damages. In response to the hotel’s summary judgment motion, she filed an expert affidavit from an OSHA trainer who provided the opinion that the hotel hadn’t kept the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition and that the deteriorated paint on the sidewalk increased the risk of pedestrian slip and fall. The expert also opined that the grandmother’s fall was caused by the uneven surface of the sidewalk. The summary judgment motion was denied.
On appeal, the hotel argued the grandmother assumed the risk. The appellate court explained that a property owner owes a duty to keep property reasonably safe and give warnings of hidden dangers.
An invitee suing for a slip and fall needs to show that the defendant property owner or occupier possessed actual or constructive notice of the danger, while the plaintiff didn’t have knowledge of the danger, in spite of using ordinary care in connection with conditions within the owner’s control. The plaintiff can’t obtain damages except where the defendant property owner possessed or should have possessed superior knowledge of the danger. A defendant can obtain summary judgment where there’s no proof of superior knowledge or where the proof that is submitted shows the plaintiff’s knowledge of the danger was equal to or exceeded the defendant’s.
The appellate court agreed with the defendant that the grandmother had equal knowledge of the danger of the sidewalk, since she’d testified as to her observation while walking that it looked shiny and wet. Additionally, she showed her knowledge by warning her grandson to use caution when walking in front of her. She knew of the danger yet chose to interact with it. Therefore, she assumed the risk.
The appellate court found that the defendant hotel was entitled to summary judgment.
If you slipped and fell at a hotel in or around Atlanta, you should call an Atlanta premises liability attorney to discuss potential remedies. Stephen M. Ozcomert has more than two decades of experience representing accident victims in Atlanta and all through Georgia. Call him at (404) 370-1000 to via our website.