So You Fell, Who Do You Sue?
Slip and fall injuries are unfortunately very common. If you’ve been involved in this kind of accident, you may be wondering whether you can bring a lawsuit, what it will take to get a settlement, and how you can get your life back on track.
Understanding Slip and Fall in the Legal Realm
Slipping injuries are a type of personal injury suit, but there are some important issues to be aware of. Georgia has a “shared fault” rule that affects personal injury cases, for example, and there are also statutes of limitations to be considered.
Understanding Shared Fault
Consider this scenario: a store employee mops the floor and fails to put up any signs warning visitors of slippery floors. Someone falls, but the surveillance video clearly shows that the victim was so deep in their cell phone at the moment that they wouldn’t have seen a sign even if there had been one.
The jury hears the case and determines the victim was 40% at fault. In this scenario, whatever amount the victim wins will then be reduced by 40% because they share fault with the plaintiff.
State of Limitation and Lawsuits
Georgia Code 9-3-33 says that you have just two years to bring your suit if you’ve been injured. If you want to file a suit over property damage, you have four years to do so. You might file a property damage suit if, for example, your fall caused you to break an expensive phone or watch.
A key issue in any personal injury suit is determining fault. To prove your case, you have to show that the property owner (or the tenant) was negligent and that this negligence directly caused your injury or loss.
What Is Negligence?
In legal terms, someone is negligent if they fail to exercise the appropriate degree of care necessary to minimize risks to other people. The keys here are knowledge and a failure to act. Examples of negligence would be if a homeowner knows their stairs are in poor shape and don’t get them fixed, or if a store owner is aware of ice on the sidewalk outside the door and doesn’t put down salt.
However, consider another scenario: a customer spills liquid all over the floor of a store and doesn’t tell anyone. Then another customer slips. The legal waters here are a bit murkier, and it may all come down to knowledge. If the second customer slipped mere seconds after the spill, it’s very unlikely the store owner could be considered negligent. If the slip happened an hour later, it would be easier to argue that a responsible store owner should have been aware of the problem by that point.
One other feature of Georgia law is that an injured party must have been on a property legally in order to bring a personal injury suit. In other words, they must have been either an expressly invited guest or had an implied invitation.
If you’re asked to visit an office to discuss business, for example, this would be an express invitation. If you’ve entered a store during normal business hours, this would be an implied invitation. People who are on a property illegally cannot sue.
Who to Sue After an Accident
Where should you seek compensation if you’ve been injured? In most cases, your suit will involve the property owner under what is known as “premises liability law.” This law makes property owners legally responsible for safe conditions on their property.
There are a few cases where the owner of a property would not be the appropriate person to sue. Sometimes hazards are the fault of a tenant rather than a property owner. This is often the case in places like strip malls, where the property owner is not present and each individual space is managed by a tenant store. If you fall within a tenant’s space, you would sue that particular store. If you fall in the shared space outside the store, the fault would lie with the property owner.
In some cases, the situation can get more complicated. Say, for example, that you are visiting a piece of property where basic cleaning has been outsourced to a professional cleaning company. One of the cleaners did a sloppy job and left a soapy residue on the floor. If you slip in this case, you may consider suing both the property owner and the company responsible for cleaning.
Get the Best Settlement
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of others, don’t wait for the statute of limitations to run out. Call the Wright Legal Group today and find out what your options are and how to get the compensation you deserve so you can get your life back on track.