What happens if you slip or trip, fall, and you’re injured on private property – inside a store, restaurant, or hotel, in a parking lot, or on an escalator or a staircase? Can you be compensated if you’re injured? Will you be able to show that the property owner was negligent, and that the negligence caused your injuries? Keep reading – a serious injury on another person’s property could happen to anyone, so everyone should know what their rights are in these cases.
What isn’t covered here is injuries that happen due to slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents in the workplace. In most workplace injury cases in Georgia, employees will not be able to sue. Instead, employees are compensated for their medical treatment and lost wages through worker’s compensation insurance.
However, if you are injured away from the workplace in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident, in the Metro Atlanta area or anywhere in the state of Georgia, you should discuss the accident and injury at once with a skilled Atlanta premises liability lawyer. Anyone injured by another person’s negligence in this state is entitled by law to full compensation for medical treatment, lost wages, pain, suffering, and more.
Q: HOW DO YOU REPORT A SLIP-AND-FALL OR TRIP-AND-FALL INJURY?
A: Reporting a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall injury depends on precisely where the injury happens, but you should attempt to notify the property owner, store manager, or facility manager. Most larger restaurants, hotels, attractions, and retail establishments will have an accident form pre-printed for you to complete.
If you report an accident and injury this way, stick strictly to the facts, keep it as brief as possible, and avoid saying anything that might be used against you or used to make you look responsible for the accident and injury. Obtain an attorney’s advice before you make any statement, sign any document, or accept any settlement related to your accident and injury.
In a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident, if you are injured, there is no law requiring any kind of accident report, and you can be compensated for your injuries even if no report was made or filed. Still, after you’ve been injured, it’s a good idea to write out your own “accident report” for yourself while your recollection is fresh.
Include as many details as possible about the time, date, and location of the accident, precisely how the accident happened, the names of any witnesses, the names of anyone who received an accident report, the extent of your injuries, and the name of location of the doctor or healthcare provider who examined you. If you file a premises liability lawsuit, your attorney will need these details.
Q: AFTER A SLIP-AND-FALL OR TRIP-AND-FALL INJURY, WHAT’S NEXT?
A: If there’s even a possibility that you are injured in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident, you must be examined by a doctor or another healthcare professional immediately. Some injuries are difficult to detect; others can remain latent for days or even weeks and then emerge as a serious medical condition.
Seeking medical attention immediately after a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident will also create the medical records you’ll need if you later choose to file a premises liability claim and seek compensation from the property owner. If you don’t seek treatment right away, and you choose to file a lawsuit later, the property owner’s attorneys may charge that you weren’t really hurt if you didn’t seek treatment – and the jurors might agree.
If it’s possible, you also want to take photos of the general location and the specific spot where you slipped or tripped, fell, and were injured. Also, if it’s possible, get the names of any eyewitnesses and a way to contact them. If you file a premises liability lawsuit, your attorney may need eyewitness statements or testimony that supports your claim.
Q: WHAT SHOULD YOU TELL THE INSURANCE COMPANY?
A: If you’ve been injured on private property in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident, the property owner’s insurance company will probably try to contact you and question you. Refer them to your attorney. An experienced Atlanta premises liability attorney is a trained negotiator who routinely negotiates with insurance companies and is familiar with their negotiating tactics.
Q: WILL MY PREMISES LIABILITY CASE GO TO TRIAL?
A: Only in the rarest circumstances does a premises liability lawsuit actually end in a courtroom trial. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the attorneys for both sides are able to negotiate an out-of-court settlement that will be acceptable to all parties involved. Most businesses that face premises liability lawsuits, for example, are anxious to avoid the bad publicity that a courtroom trial entails, so they are often willing to offer a reasonable settlement amount.
However, if no reasonable settlement is offered, your attorney can take the case to trial. At a premises liability trial, an injury victim/plaintiff’s attorney must prove that the property owner/defendant was negligent because he or she failed to maintain the property in a safe condition, and the plaintiff’s attorney must additionally prove that the property owner’s negligence was a direct cause of the plaintiff’s personal injury or injuries.
In most premises liability cases, if a property owner could have prevented a slip-and-fall injury by taking a particular action, and the property owner failed to take that action – despite knowing of the hazard and having time to repair it – the property owner will be deemed liable for the plaintiff’s personal injury or injuries and will be ordered to pay compensation.
Q: SHOULD YOU KEEP THE CLOTHES YOU WORE WHEN YOU WERE INJURED?
A: By all means. In fact, anything that might be considered “physical evidence” should be saved and shared with your premises liability attorney. Don’t even wash your clothes, because you don’t want to lose blood evidence, scuff marks, or anything else the clothes might reveal about your accident and injury.
Q: WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT PREMISES LIABILITY?
A: We’ve covered the basics here, but of course, every premises liability case is different, so if you are injured on private property in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident, let a qualified Atlanta premises liability lawyer explain how the law will apply in your own case. You can’t take any risks with your health and your future, but if you are a victim of negligence in Georgia, the law is on your side, so do not hesitate to obtain legal help and put the law to work for you.