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Slip and Fall at an Apartment Complex in Georgia

You can bring an Atlanta premises liability lawsuit against a homeowner or property owner or property manager that negligently fails to keep the property reasonably safe for a patron, customer, tenant or another invitee. In a recent slip and fall case, a defendant property management company appealed the denial of its summary judgment motion. The case arose when a woman and her daughter took a car to an area of their apartment complex. They were going to vacuum the car. The woman stepped out and went onto a landscaped area that had embedded rocks around the vacuum. When she tried to grab the vacuum, she fell and was hurt.

She sued the property management company on the grounds that she’d slipped on a foreign substance. The defense attorney asked her about what had caused her to fall and what caused her foot to slip. She testified she didn’t know. However, when her attorney asked her why she thought she fell, she answered that the rocks were very slippery. There wasn’t any water on the rocks, and she didn’t see any liquid on the ground.

The management company asked for summary judgment on the grounds that there wasn’t any evidence of a dangerous condition. The lower court denied the motion on the basis that there was proof from which the jury would be able to determine the rocks were slippery because of the water from car wash facility. The lower court asked for immediate review. The court granted interlocutory review.

On appeal, the apartment management company claimed the lower court made a mistake in denying the motion for summary judgment because there was no proof a dangerous condition existed on the property. The appellate court explained that the first point of inquiry was whether a dangerous condition existed on the premises. Proving a fall without more doesn’t generate liability by a landowner or proprietor since people can fall down even on perfect floors and sidewalks. If a plaintiff can’t show there was a dangerous condition, she won’t be able to show causation, and there won’t be a possibility of recovering damages.

The plaintiff needed to show the condition of the rocks established an unreasonable danger, but she didn’t show any proof that the rocks that were in the landscaped area were wet and should be considered a dangerous condition. When she appealed, she speculated there was water there, but did not have evidence to cite for this proposition, nor for the proposition that there was a dangerous condition on the ground. She admitted she hadn’t seen anything on the rocks and didn’t know if the rocks felt slippery because they had some sort of foreign substance on them.

A defendant can show entitlement to summary judgment by putting forward evidence eliminating an essential element of claims or showing from the record there’s no evidence to support those claims. In this case, the property management company had shown there was no evidence of a dangerous property condition and the plaintiff was unable to specify evidence to show there was a triable issue of fact. The judgment was reversed.

If you were injured in a slip and fall on someone else’s property in Atlanta, you should consult an experienced Atlanta premises liability attorney. Stephen M. Ozcomert has more than two decades of experience representing injured people in Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. Call us  at (404) 370-1000 to via our website.

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