Everything You Need to Know About Slip and Fall Accidents in Georgia
Slip and fall accidents happen all the time, both in Georgia and elsewhere. Many do not result in significant injury, but for those who do become injury victims, many times they don’t receive the compensation they deserve because they didn’t know how to move forward. Here’s what you need to know about slip and fall accidents in Georgia, and what to do if you are a victim.
What is a slip and fall accident?As the name suggests, a slip and fall accident (also sometimes called trip-and-fall) is an incident in which one slips on a surface, losing one’s balance and falling as a result. In legal terms, slip and fall accidents specifically refer to incidents that occur on someone else’s property and result in personal injury. From a demographic standpoint, most slip and fall events occur on business property or store locations. If the injury is significant enough to create a loss (in the form of medical expenses, lost wages, etc.), and if negligence played a role in the accident, the victim may be entitled to legal compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
How slip-and-fall laws work in GeorgiaIf you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident and feel you have a case, the primary challenge will be to prove that the property owner demonstrated negligence in failing to ensure the safety of the surface or provide clear warning and that this negligence significantly contributed to your fall. You’ll also need to draw a clear connection between your fall and the damage and loss you sustained as a result (e.g., medical expenses, being unable to work or getting fired from a job). As the plaintiff in the claim, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate negligence. A personal injury attorney is uniquely qualified to help you navigate this part of your case. In Georgia, legal compensation for slip and fall and other personal injury accident is assessed based on fault, and fault can be shared between the victim and the defendant. If you are found to have been careless in some way leading up to the accident – for example, if you ignored posted warnings or were moving in an otherwise unsafe manner – the courts may assign you a portion of the blame, lowering your award. If it is determined that more than 50 percent of the fault is upon you for your own carelessness, you aren’t entitled to compensation under Georgia law.
Do I have a legitimate slip and fall case?Because slip and fall cases often result in shared blame, it’s important to determine beforehand whether you have reason enough to file a lawsuit. To help you make that assessment, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Did my injury require medical treatment? If so, how much? If you suffered only minor injuries that required little or no medical treatment, or if your expenses aren’t significant, a lawsuit might not be cost-effective.
- Did I lose wages, a job or my ability to work? Lost wages of any type count as damages and they can add up quickly.
- Do I need ongoing care/assistance as a result of the injury? If the effects of your injury are lasting and ongoing, you are continuing to suffer loss, and you might explore the possibility of seeking compensation.
- Do I believe the property owner was negligent? Were there warning signs posted? Were you given verbal warnings? Was the slick spot in an unexpected place?
- Was I being careless? This is an important question to ask yourself (and be honest with your answer), because carelessness can greatly reduce your award. (Many businesses videotape their premises for this very reason.)
What to do if you are involved in a slip and fall accidentIf you are injured in a slip and fall accident, do the following:
- Seek medical attention first. No matter who is at fault, your health is the primary issue. We recommend being checked by a doctor even if you don’t believe you’ve been seriously hurt, just to rule out the possibility of internal injuries. Keep copies of all your medical bills and expenses.
- Consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A good attorney will evaluate your case, guide you through the questions above and determine whether you have significant reason to file a slip and fall injury claim. In most cases, it costs you nothing for the first consultation. If the attorney feels you have a case, he/she will begin a thorough investigation.
- Do not procrastinate if you feel you have a case. The statute of limitations for slip and fall accidents in Georgia is two years; if you wait beyond that time, your case will be invalid. However, even within the two years, evidence to support your claim may be weakened or disappear over time. The longer you wait, the lower your odds of a reward.