Slip and fall accidents are common on properties in Georgia, and many victims tend to blame themselves before having all the facts. While it is certainly possible for your own conduct to prevent you from having a valid slip and fall case, it’s more likely there was a reason for your fall.
Even if you do hold some liability for your accident, you may still be able to seek compensation for a portion of your damages. Let’s look at what you need for a slip and fall case in Georgia and how your own conduct relates to your compensation.
What Do I Need for a Valid Slip and Fall Case in Georgia?
To have a case, the property owner or business where you fell must have been negligent in your accident. Negligence is basically another word for “carelessness,” and it means someone has failed to exercise ordinary care in preventing harm.
Property owners in Georgia must “exercise ordinary care” in keeping their premises safe or they could be liable for injuries resulting from their negligence (Georgia Code § 51-3-1). The struggle for any slip and fall accident victim comes from actually proving this negligence. You might be able to show that the property owner or occupier:
- Should have known about a hazardous or dangerous condition but did not OR
- Had reasonable time to fix or remove the hazardous or dangerous condition but did not
These are elements of premises liability in Georgia. If the property owner or occupier is indeed negligent in your accident, you can seek compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. However, there are situations where your own conduct may reduce what you can recover—or prevent your slip and fall case from being valid at all.
How Might My Conduct Prevent My Slip and Fall Case from Being Valid?
As an injury victim, you have your own degree of responsibility. According to Georgia Code § 51-11-7, if you could have avoided the consequences of the property owner’s or business’s negligence through “ordinary care,” you are not entitled to damages.
“Ordinary care” refers to how another reasonable person in a similar situation would have responded to the situation. If the insurance company can prove that you were not careful enough to avoid the dangerous condition, even if it was caused by the owner’s negligence, they may prevent you from recovering money.
The insurance company might also ask questions like:
- Would a careful individual have noticed the hazard and been able to avoid it (or avoid the slip and fall accident you had)?
- Did you have a legitimate reason for being at the location of the dangerous condition or hazard?
- Were you distracted from being able to pay attention enough to avoid the hazard that caused your fall?
- Were you acting in a way that increased your chance of slipping and falling—such as running in a store where there was a slippery floor?
If the insurance company or property owner brings up concerns like this, contact a Georgia slip and fall accident lawyer immediately. You’ll need to make sure your rights are protected and that you don’t get unfairly blamed for the accident.
Georgia’s Modified Comparative Negligence Laws
In Georgia, you can still seek compensation for damages if you are less than 50% liable for your accident. That means that even if your conduct contributed in some way to your slip and fall case, you may still be able to claim compensation. Your settlement would simply be reduced based on your percentage of fault.
- Say your slip and fall damages totaled $10,000.
- You were found to be five percent at fault, while the property owner was 95% at fault.
- You would be responsible for five percent of the damages ($500), and the property owner would be responsible for 95% (which is $9,500).
How Can I Reduce My Liability in My Slip and Fall Case?
It’s common for insurance companies to look for ways to put more liability on you, as the injury victim. They do not like paying out much on slip and fall cases, and less liability means less financial responsibility for them.
You can help prevent the property owner or insurance company from unfairly blaming you by building a strong slip and fall case. Here are some of the best ways to do that:
- Taking pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and the hazard that caused your call
- Getting the names and contact information of any witnesses to your slip and fall accident
- Reporting the accident to the property owner or store manager
- Not accepting any money or giving any recorded statements to the insurance company
- Saving all bills, receipts, and other evidence of expenses from your accident
- Contacting an experienced Georgia slip and fall accident lawyer as soon as possible
Talk to a Georgia Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer for Free Today
Slip and fall cases in Georgia can be difficult to prove, so it’s best to work with an attorney who understands the complexity of premises liability. At John Foy & Associates, we have been working on (and winning) these cases for 20 plus years.
For a FREE, no-risk consultation and case evaluation, call us today at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.