Slip-and-fall accidents are those that occur when someone encounters a walking surface that isn’t safe due to the presence of a slippery substance. This could be rainwater tracked in from the entrance, soft drinks spilled near a self-serve station, a recently-mopped nursing home hallway or a patch of black ice on parking lot walkway.
The National Floor Safety Institute reports falls in general are the cause of 8 million hospital emergency room visits. Slip-and-fall accidents specifically account for 1 million of those. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a third of those who experience a slip-and-fall will suffer moderate to severe injuries, including:
- Hip fractures
- Spinal cord injuries
- Foot and toe fractures
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
People don’t fall for no reason (and it’s not because they are clumsy). Almost all falls are entirely preventable, meaning if they do occur, someone somewhere along the line was negligent, failing to address a known hazard when they had a responsibility to do so.
The question of when to consult an Atlanta injury attorney for slip-and-fall negligence can be answered with consideration for the severity of injury resulting and the context of the injured person’s role relative to that of the property owner/ other responsible party. In general, it’s wise to seek a free consultation from an Atlanta injury attorney for any slip and fall cases requiring medical attention and/ or results in loss of wages due to an inability to return to work.
When You May Not Need a Slip-and-Fall Injury Attorney
It should firstly be noted you have nothing to lose by seeking a free consultation with an injury attorney regarding your legal options following a slip-and-fall. Because injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, you aren’t responsible to pay any attorney fees unless or until that lawyer wins your case.
That said, you may not need an injury attorney if:
- The fall occurred in the course-and-scope of employment, your injuries are minimal, your employer/ workers’ compensation insurer has approved your claim and you are certain there is no responsible third party.
- Your injury does not require emergency medical attention or follow-up treatment and won’t cost you any time away from work.
Of course, it’s worth noting that determinations of fault aren’t always obvious in a slip-and-fall case, which is why it’s smart to talk to an attorney with decades of experience in preparing these cases and knowing exactly the proof burden necessary to establish.
When You Do Need a Slip-and-Fall Injury Attorney
Occupiers and owners of property can be held liable for slip-and-fall injuries when, as outlined in O.C.G.A. 51-3-1, they invite, induce or lead others onto the site for a lawful purpose and then fail to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and its approaches safe.
Basically, there are several steps to consider:
- Defendant had a duty to conform to a standard of conduct (which varies depending on the type of property and role of defendant).
- Defendant breached that duty by failing to fix a hazardous condition on site or warn about it.
- The breach resulted in plaintiff’s injury. Plaintiffs need to show their injury was the result of defendant’s action or inaction.
- The injury caused damages. Usually, this extends beyond something like a mere bruise or skinned knee.
Some defendant property owners will argue comparative negligence by asserting, for instance, the plaintiff should have avoided the danger because it was obvious. But so long as you weren’t more than half responsible for your own injury, you can still usually recover damages. Don’t presume it’s not an option until you have consulted with an injury attorney.
The foregoing answers are not legal advice and are merely a general overview. You are advised to consult a lawyer to address your specific situation regarding your situation. For more information or to inquire about a free consultation, contact Stephen D. Apolinsky, an experienced Atlanta slip-and-fall injury attorney, at Apolinsky & Associates at (404) 377-9191 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.