Did you get hurt in a slip and fall accident in Atlanta? You may be entitled to compensation from the property owner or another negligent third party. Contact Hasner Law to find out how our Atlanta slip and fall accident lawyers might be able to help you maximize your recovery. We offer a free consultation, so don’t hesitate to call now.
Why Should I Call a Personal Injury Lawyer After a Fall in Atlanta?
A slip and fall can happen anywhere, even when you least expect it. If the fall is bad enough, you may suffer serious injuries. If the owner of a property is responsible for your injuries, you may have a case for collecting damages. These are amounts negotiated in settlement talks or ordered by a court and are meant to cover your:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering, and more.
Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer in Atlanta, GA can be a great idea. Here’s why.
Premises Liability Cases Can Be Complicated
Many times, slip and fall accidents are preventable by making sure that property is maintained properly. If proper maintenance was not performed, you may have the right to receive financial compensation from a negligent property owner for your injuries.
This area of practice is known as “premises liability” law, and it seeks to hold responsible parties liable for injuries that happen on private or public property. Premises liability cases can be very complex and fact-sensitive. For that reason, you’ll want a qualified slip and fall accident attorney on your side who knows the law and has experience with personal injury matters.
Insurance Companies Will Fight Your Request for Damages
These types of cases often involve working with insurance companies. This is because businesses, homeowners, and employers often have policies that are meant to cover injuries like slip and falls. Remember, insurance companies do not have your best interests in mind and are interested in settling a case as quickly and cheaply as possible. Make sure you talk to an attorney who has experience in personal injury claims before you begin talks with an insurance company.
There’s a Limited Amount of Time to File a Trip and Fall Claim
Don’t delay in speaking with an experienced Atlanta slip and fall attorney. There is a strict deadline that applies to slip and fall claims in Georgia. This is referred to as the “statute of limitations” and it requires that your injury claim be filed no later than two years after the incident. Note that there is a much shorter timeframe for filing claims through workers’ comp. Contact our Atlanta law firm today for a free consultation.
Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents in Atlanta
Slip and fall injuries are most commonly caused by poorly maintained property. Common causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Icy sidewalks
- Slippery floors
- Water leaks
- Defective stairs/escalators
- Open trenches
- Loose carpeting
- Property left on the floor
- Poor lighting
- Uneven ground
- Holes in the parking lot, and
- Other building code violations.
It’s important to make sure that your slip and fall accident is investigated by someone other than the insurance company handling your claim. At Hasner Law, our personal injury lawyers will dig deep to figure out what caused your accident and resulting injuries. When we know the cause(s), we can be better prepared to seek damages from all liable parties.
We Handle All Slip and Fall Cases in Atlanta
Bear in mind that these injuries can be either minor or serious. Typically, the types of injuries we see as a result of a slip and fall include:
- Bumps and bruises
- Broken bones
- Sprained ankles or wrists
- Knee damage, and
- In serious cases, permanent disability.
For this reason, it’s important to seek medical care as soon as possible after your fall in order to reduce the likelihood of any long-term health issues.
Investigating Why You Were on the Property
One of the most important questions to be asked in any slip and fall case is why you were on the property to begin with. This is because the owner owes you different “standards of care” depending on how you are classified.
The standard of care is low for trespassers. These are individuals that were not invited by the owner onto private property. In this case, the owner owes no duty of care, but cannot intentionally harm the trespasser. This means that if you wander onto someone’s property and fall into an open trench and hurt your leg, you would not have a case.
Georgia law places a higher duty on owners when it comes to people invited onto the premises. These individuals are referred to as “licensees,” meaning they are on the property for social reasons, not to conduct business. An example would be friends and family. Here, the owner must warn the licensee of any dangerous conditions on the premises that are not obvious. So, if we take the open trench example from above, the owner would be held liable if he or she failed to warn the licensee of the danger.
Sometimes the general public is invited onto the property. This is done either expressly or impliedly, and examples would be a grocery store open for business or a museum. Those that enter the premises are referred to as “invitees”, and this category places the highest standard of care on the owner. In this case, the owner must exercise reasonable care in keeping the premises safe.
This standard of care requires inspection of the property to reasonably ensure that it is free from danger. This means that, in the case of the open trench, it would likely not be sufficient to simply warn an invitee of the hazard. Instead, the property owner would most likely need to fill the hole in or gate off the area. But, remember the standard of care only requires reasonable efforts. In other words, an owner is not required to make sure the property is absolutely free of any and all dangers.
Proving the Landowner Was Negligent
With the above standards of care in mind, the next important question to ask is whether or not the owner of the property was acting according to this standard. If not, the owner would be considered negligent. However, it’s important to note that proving negligence is not enough. To win a lawsuit, you must also show that this negligence was the cause of your injury.
This is important because often we assume that just because we slipped and fell, someone must have done something wrong. However, even in a licensee situation, which involves the highest standard of care, you must show that an owner or employee either caused the condition and did nothing about it, or should have known about it and the property owner failed to act.
For example, if a roof started leaking only minutes before you slipped in water, this would likely not be a case of negligence. By contrast, if the roof had been leaking for weeks in front of a busy store, this could be a basis for finding negligence. Because determining negligence is very fact-sensitive, a premises liability attorney will fully investigate every case, asking questions such as:
- How long did the condition exist?
- Was there a regular schedule for cleaning and/or repairing the premises?
- Were there any warnings of the dangerous condition?
- Were any safety devices installed/maintained – like handrails on the stairs?
- Was there a legitimate reason for the dangerous condition?
Note that an owner is not always deemed negligent even when made aware of a dangerous condition on the premises. So long as warning signs were placed in a way that could have reasonably prevented the injury, this is generally an acceptable solution. For example, if an employee notices a spill, but can’t mop it up immediately, he or she would not be negligent if a wet floor sign is placed near the spill and customers have a viable path around the hazard.
Did You Share Fault for the Slip and Fall?
In some cases, a person injured in a slip and fall is partially or totally to blame for the injury. For example, if you willfully ignored warning signs or ran recklessly through a crowded store, this could be viewed as negligent behavior. Under Georgia’s modified comparative fault rules, your damage award would be reduced by your percentage of fault. So, if your damages totaled $100,000 and you were found to be 20% to blame, the most you could collect would be $80,000.
Keep in mind that you can still be awarded damages in a slip and fall case so long as you were not more than 50% to blame for the accident. However, if you are found 51% or more to blame, you are entitled to nothing.
Slip and Fall Accidents While at Work
Slip and falls that occur while you are working are handled differently. These types of claims are processed through the state workers’ compensation system. Workers’ comp is a type of insurance that most employers in Georgia are required to carry.
Now, unlike premises liability law, workers’ comp offers what is known as “no fault” coverage. This means that it generally doesn’t matter whether your employer was negligent or not in maintaining the premises. It also typically doesn’t matter if you were partially or totally to blame for the accident. However, note that workers’ comp generally doesn’t cover intentional acts to hurt yourself.
Workers’ comp benefits can cover an employee’s medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and in some cases, even lost earnings during the period when the worker is unable to work, or can only do so in some diminished capacity.
If you believe you qualify for workers’ comp, it’s important to follow the correct procedures. This requires reporting the injury to your employer as soon as possible and obtaining treatment only from providers that have been pre-authorized by the company. Keep in mind that this is typically your only remedy for your injury, which means that you can’t collect workers’ comp and then sue your employer for premises liability.
Contact Our Atlanta Slip and Fall Lawyers Today
At Hasner Law, our legal team has been dedicated to helping slip and fall victims in Atlanta for decades. Our tough approach and hard work have helped us secure meaningful compensation for our clients. Call us if you’ve been hurt and need help. We’ll be there for you when you need us. Your first consultation is free, so call today.