Your chance of winning a slip and fall or premises liability case rests on the cause of your injuries and whether the property or business owner knew about the hazard. There are several specific thresholds that must be met in premises liability cases to prove negligence:
- There was a danger on the property that could potentially cause an injury
- The owner knew about this hazard
- The owner failed to take action to fix the hazard in a timely manner
- Someone who was legally on the property was injured by the hazard
- The injury resulted in economic and non-economic damages
When You Might Have a Slip and Fall Case
Slip and fall cases often hinge on worker or property owner inaction. If a bottle of liquid soap fell in the aisle of a drug store and you slipped in the slick puddle it left, the outcome of the case would likely depend on:
- The age of the spill
- Whether it was reasonable for an employee to have seen it and cleaned it between when it happened and when you slipped in it
- Whether you should have had the wherewithal to avoid slipping
- Evidence of the above facts
The law is written to protect businesses and property owners from frivolous cases or those where an injured person may have suffered the injury due to their own carelessness. If there was an obviously visible wet floor sign and you still walked through the aisle and slipped, you likely won’t have a case. If the puddle is essentially invisible and it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect you to see it, then you could potentially have a case.
What Constitutes a Premises Liability Case?
People often use the terms slip and fall and premises liability interchangeably, but it would be more accurate to describe slip and fall cases as one of many potential types of premises liability. Slip, trips and falls are generally those caused by:
- Spills on floors
- Structural defects in walkways or stairs
- Boxes, cords or obstructions in walkways
- Inadequate lighting in walkways
There are many other potential property-related injury causes. For example, visitors, tenants and residents on commercial or residential properties might be injured by:
- Falling ceilings
- Structural collapses
- Deck collapses
- Potholes in parking lots
- Assaults on private property
Every property owner has some degree of duty to legal visitors, including the obligation to maintain a safe premises. Inadequate security is a serious lapse in that duty. When inadequate security allows assaults to occur on private property, the property owner should be held liable for the resulting injuries.
These cases can be a little complex. It is possible for people who are the victim of criminal assault to hold their assailant civilly liable for their injuries. However, in many cases people who commit crimes like assault don’t have insurance to cover their actions and have few assets that can be liquidated to pay for damages.
On the other hand, commercial properties are generally covered by large commercial liability policies. The commercial property owner may not have committed the assault, but they created through inaction an environment they should have realized could be taken advantage of by criminals.
Proving a Premises Liability Case
Making a slip and fall or premises liability case isn’t always easy. When people slip or trip in a store or in the courtyard of their apartment complex their first action isn’t always to take pictures of what caused their fall.
People who have just fallen are often shaken up or seriously injured. Collecting evidence may not be top of mind. In some cases, there might be witnesses around who can attest to what happened, or even security camera video.
If you do find yourself in a situation where you’ve just suffered a premises liability injury, there are a few things you can do right away to improve your chances at receiving compensation:
- Take pictures and video of what you slipped or tripped on from multiple angles
- Get the contact information of anyone who is around
- See a doctor right away to get your injuries documented and to begin treatment
- Speak with a personal injury lawyer who can begin their investigation and go into action to prevent the property owner from destroying evidence
Keep in mind that business owners have an incentive to make it look like there was no hazard. The sooner you take action to preserve evidence or speak with a personal injury attorney who can begin an investigation, the better your chances for success.
Speak with an Atlanta Slip and Fall Attorney
The Dressie Law Firm understands how disruptive premises liability injuries can be for your life. Serious injuries might put you out of work, make it difficult to pay your bills and put you in significant medical debt. It’s important that negligent parties be held liable for injuries they cause, and we’ll aggressively pursue the damages you need to fully recover.
Call our premises liability attorneys at 770-756-6333 for a free, no-obligation consultation.