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Slips, Trips, and Falls: How the Laws of Georgia Protect Citizens

Anyone can become the victim of a slip, trip, or fall in Georgia. These types of accidents, while sometimes insignificant or even comical, have the potential to be extremely serious.

  • Slips: Slips are common on freshly waxed surfaces and wet surfaces.  Slips can also occur when one is not wearing proper footwear.  Slips happen when you lose solid footing and your feet come out from under you.

            

  • Trips: Trips are most frequently caused by a person encountering an unexpected obstruction.  This could be a stack of magazines, an open drawer extending into a walkway, or cords, such as cable or electric cords, extending across a walkway.  Trips can also happen when walking on an uneven surface.  Examples of this could include a sidewalk that has buckled, or an unexpected drop or rise in a walkway.

            

  • Falls: Falls occur when someone loses their balance or their footing.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of five falls results in a serious injury.  Over 2.8 million people are seen in the emergency room each year for treatment of injuries from falls.

Inadequate lighting, a failure to warn of potential hazards, and poor visibility also contribute to slips, trips, and falls.

Common Injuries that Can Occur from a Slip, Trip, or Fall

Injuries sustained due to slips, trips, and falls can range from a simple sprained ankle or wrist, to torn muscles, to broken bones to head injuries.  The CDC reports serious injuries are sustained as frequently as one in every five falls.  Falls are the most common cause of both traumatic brain injuries and hip fractures.

Slips, Trips, and Falls on the Job

This blog post focuses on slips, trips, and falls on private or public property under a personal injury claim.  If you were injured due to a slip, trip, or fall on the job, you may still have a claim, however, it would be filed under a workers’ compensation claim, not a personal injury claim.  We have previously blogged about slips, trips, and falls on the job here.

Understanding the Duty of Care

Property owners have a duty of care to maintain conditions that are safe.  “Property owners” is a broad term, which refers to many different groups of people.  Property owners include homeowners, business owners, and the government.  There are any number of situations where dangerous conditions can lead to a trip, slip, or fall.  Sidewalks and parking lots should be kept free of debris.  Rugs should be properly secured with grip pads or tape.  Holes in carpets, or rugs with frayed edges can present a dangerous condition.  Stairs are a frequent site of falls.  Maintaining proper handrails, and keeping stairs clear of clutter is essential to create a safe environment.

Under Georgia Code § 51-3-1, property owners are required to exercise ordinary care to make the premises, and the approaches to the premises, safe.

Understanding Liability

In order to prevail on a slip, trip, or fall claim, the injured party must establish certain facts.  First, they must establish that the property owner failed to exercise ordinary care to keep the premises safe.  This can be established by proving one of two things:  First, a failure to exercise due care can be established if the owner knew about the hazard and did nothing about it.  However, failure to exercise due care can also be proven by establishing the owner should have known about the hazard, had they exercised reasonable care.  (Property owners do not owe trespassers the same duty of care.)

Proof of knowledge or that the owner should have known can be based on either direct or circumstantial evidence.  For example, if a restaurant had been inspected and cited for an unsecured rug, and the restaurant failed to correct that, this is direct evidence the owner knew about the hazard.  Indirect evidence could include the location of the hazard.  An owner should be aware of a wobbly handrail in a staircase she uses regularly.

In addition to knowing about the hazard, the injured party must prove that the owner should have fixed the hazard.

Finally, the injured party must establish their injuries were not sustained due to their own negligence, but rather are a direct result of the owner’s failure.

Is Every Slip, Trip, or Fall Grounds for a Lawsuit?

Not every slip or trip or fall is grounds for a lawsuit.  In determining whether you should contact a personal injury attorney, consider the following:

  • A lawsuit may be appropriate if you were injured enough to seek medical treatment;
  • If your injury affects your ability to earn a living, a lawsuit may be appropriate;
  • If your injury affects your ability to perform basic daily tasks, a lawsuit might be appropriate; and finally
  • If you are not a fault for your accident, a lawsuit might be appropriate.

Comparative Fault

Like many states, Georgia has modified comparative negligence.  In other words, if the property owner is found to be 75 percent at fault, but you are found to be 25 percent at fault, you only recover 75 percent of the damages awarded.  Because of this comparative fault analysis, you may be entitled to recover some of your damages, even if you are partially at fault.

Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys at The Bader Law Firm

At The Bader Law Firm, LLC, we are committed to representing people who have sustained injuries due to the negligence and carelessness of others.  Our attorneys focus our practice in the areas of workers’ compensation and personal injury.  Whether you have been injured on the job, at a business, on government property, or in a private home, our experienced personal injury attorneys and workers’ compensation attorneys are here to help you with your case.

You may be entitled to compensation for lost time at work, as well as any medical bills you have incurred due to your injuries.  You may also be entitled to other compensation.  Our skilled work injury attorneys in Atlanta do not charge our potential clients for a consultation.  If you have been injured, you may have a claim.  Contact The Bader Law Firm, LLC to make an appointment.  We look forward to speaking with you.

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