Atlanta Premises Liability Attorney
Premises liability cases, also known as slip and fall cases, happen when a person is injured because of a dangerously unsafe or defective condition on someone’s property. Property owners have a duty to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition for those lawfully on the property. Premises liability law includes so-called “slip and fall” cases. Still, there are also many other ways a person can get injured because of a defect on the premises, including a trip and fall, being struck by a falling object, assaults that occur because of negligent security, and more. If you have been hurt on someone’s property, or are interested in bringing a premises liability lawsuit, contact an Atlanta premises liability attorney at Sawyer Injury Law.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Experienced in Premises Liability Cases
Premises liability cases can be challenging to prove for many reasons discussed below. Seemingly straightforward premises liability cases may not be so cut and dry upon further inspection.
Elements to Establish in Personal Injury Cases
Being essentially a claim for negligence means that the legal concept of premises liability can be simplified to proving the following:
- The premises owner or building owner owed the injured person a duty of care,
- The property owner failed to apply reasonable care, creating an unsafe condition, and
- The failure resulted in personal injury and/or loss.
Fortunately, attorney Norman Sawyer has a great deal of experience handling premises liability lawsuits as both a plaintiff’s lawyer representing the injured person and an insurance company defense lawyer traveling across the country to defend businesses, property owners, government agencies, and the state of Georgia. Sawyer knows slip and fall cases from every angle and can help you prove your premises liability case and recover money damages that compensate you for your injuries as fully as possible. If you’ve been hurt in a slip and fall accident in Metro Atlanta, Sawyer Injury Law can help.
What is the Duty of Property Owners to Prevent a Slip and Fall?
Property owners are generally obliged to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition. What this means strictly depends on the nature of the person on the premises. Georgia premises liability law classifies people on the premises as either invitees, licensees, or trespassers, and property owners have a different duty toward people in these other classes.
Potential Players in a Premises Liability Case
The property owner invited this to the premises for the property owner’s benefit. The most obvious example of an invitee is a customer at a grocery store, restaurant, retail department store, or other business establishments. According to Georgia law, property owners must exercise ordinary care to keep their premises safe for invitees. This generally means that property owners and managers must make periodic inspections of their property and promptly fix any defect they discover or put up a warning until the hazard can be improved. This includes temporary hazards such as food or drink spills or merchandise on the floor, creating a tripping hazard. Property owners are liable for any accidents that occur because of a danger they knew about or should have known about but failed to correct reasonably.
A licensee can enter the property to perform some service, not necessarily for the property owner’s benefit. Delivery people, sales people, repair people, meter readers, and mail carriers are examples of licensees. Georgia law for licensees says that the premises owner is liable only for a willful or wanton injury. This would require the owner to warn or fix any known dangers but not necessarily have to inspect the property for hidden dangers.
A trespasser is someone who does not have a lawful right to be on the property. Trespassers include people on the premises when the business is closed or on private property without permission. Property owners don’t owe a duty of care toward trespassers to fix or warn about known dangers, but they can’t intentionally create hazards to harm trespassers.
Conditions That Give Rise to Premises Liability Claims
These are some examples of common dangerous conditions that give rise to fall accidents:
- Drink spills
- Icy, wet, or snowy entrances
- Merchandise on the floor
- Power cords on the floor
- Objects falling from shelves
- Condensation leaking or pooling around refrigerated cases or air conditioning units
- Broken steps
- Broken, missing, or loose handrails
- Torn carpet
- Cracked or broken floor tiles
- Unmarked steps
- Misaligned elevators
- Escalator accidents
Inadequate maintenance of premises could create dangerous conditions for a lawful visitor. It would be ideal if you didn’t have to foot the bill for someone else’s failure to take reasonable steps to create a safe place for lawful visitors. Contact a premises liability lawyer from our firm to determine your legal status.
What Makes Slip and Fall Cases Hard to Prove Against a Property Owner?
It would be unfortunate for the building owner to avoid liability where the property owner knew to warn visitors of, for example, wet floors. Most straightforward premises liability cases are quickly established under tort law. Sometimes, however, slip and fall accidents require more effort from a seasoned personal injury lawyer.
Difficulty in Showing the Business Owner Knew
Quite often, the danger that caused the slip and fall was a temporary (transitory) foreign substance, such as a food or drink spill on someone else’s property. Another customer might have caused the spill, and the property owner/store manager is not immediately aware of it. The questions then become: When did the spill happen? Was the spill present for an unreasonably long time before the slip and fall occurred? How long is too long? Proving the property owner was negligent in this instance requires gathering a variety of evidence from different sources and often using investigators and industry experts to answer these questions. Inadequate building security may make this more difficult.
Longstanding Premises Defective Conditions
In contrast, sometimes, the danger is not a temporary or hard-to-see hazard like a clear liquid spill but a structural defect that has been around a long time, such as a crack in the pavement. In these cases, property owners likely allege that the injury victim was negligent in not noticing the danger and avoiding it (contributory negligence). Arguments like these can lower the amount of damages owed by the defendant or even relieve them of liability altogether if it is believed the injury victim was 50% or more at fault.
The Injury Suffered May Not Immediately Appear as a Serious Injury
Finally, slip and fall cases often involve soft tissue injuries—muscle, tendon, or ligament strains and sprains—that don’t appear on an x-ray or other diagnostic tool. These injuries can be painful and debilitating and keep you from working, moving around, doing daily activities, and enjoying life. But the defendant’s insurance company is more likely to argue that the injuries are exaggerated, nonexistent, or that they come from some preexisting condition and were not caused by the slip and fall. Slip and fall cases often cause noticeable injuries, such as hip fractures, skull fractures, wrist fractures, and facial lacerations, and a worrisome percentage are even fatal. But when the injury is more difficult to see or diagnose, it can be harder to prove the right amount of money damages that reflect the claim’s value. Jury trial experience in premises liability cases like that possessed by Sawyer Injury Law can be especially valuable in these more complex cases.
Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer
Sawyer Injury Law is a full-service personal injury law firm. You can also peruse our other practice areas:
- Rear-end collisions
- T-Bone crashes
- Rollover car accidents
- Truck jackknife accidents
- Truck underride accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- E-scooter accidents
- Construction workplace accidents
- Workplace automobile accidents
- Factory workplace accidents
Help With Atlanta Slip and Fall Injuries
If you’ve been hurt in a slip and fall in Metro Atlanta caused by a property owner’s negligence, call Sawyer Injury Law at 470-221-1710 for a free consultation about your claims. We’ll help you get the medical treatment you need and explore your options for recovering compensation from the responsible party. Schedule a consultation with Sawyer Injury Law today.