Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in Georgia slip-and-fall case dismissing the plaintiff’s claims against the defendant based on the plaintiff’s failure to show that the defendant knew of the hazard that caused her fall. The case is especially important, because the defense used by the defendant is one that is commonly asserted in Georgia premises liability cases.

Georgia Premises Liability Claims

To succeed in a Georgia premises liability claim, a plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant landowner failed to exercise reasonable care in keeping the premises safe. Georgia courts have held that a plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant knew or should have known of the hazard in order to establish a defendant’s lack of reasonable care.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was at the defendant doctor’s office when she felt something “grab” her right pant leg as she walked by a desk. This caused the plaintiff to stumble, at which point she lost her balance and fell to the ground. After the fall, the plaintiff saw a wheelchair next to the desk, right next to the right side of her body.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability case requiring the court to determine whether the owner of an auto repair shop could be held liable for the actions of a mechanic who leased a portion of the shop from the owner. Ultimately, the court concluded that the owner’s duty to safely maintain the shop was non-delegable, and thus the court upheld the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff took his car to a repair shop that was owned by the defendant. The defendant leased a portion of his shop to another mechanic. The agreement required that the mechanic obtain liability insurance and also stated that the mechanic would hold the defendant “harmless from any liability or damage, whether caused by [the mechanic’s] operations or otherwise.” The mechanic never obtained liability insurance coverage.

Evidently, the mechanic greeted the plaintiff, and agreed to look at his car. The mechanic pulled the plaintiff’s car into one of the shop’s bays, and placed it up on a lift. The mechanic discovered an oil leak and then lowered the car. However, as the vehicle reached the ground, it crushed the plaintiff’s foot.

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In a recent Georgia premises liability case, a court discussed a store’s obligation to maintain the area immediately around the entranceway into the building. Ultimately, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case after finding that store’s parking lot was not included in the area that the store was required to maintain.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff had just finished shopping at a Big Lots store and was walking back to her car when she slipped and fell after stepping in a wet substance in the store’s parking lot. The plaintiff was injured as a result of the fall and filed a Georgia premises liability lawsuit against Big Lots, arguing that the store was responsible for keeping its parking lot free of hazards.

The evidence presented showed that the plaintiff’s fall occurred about 45 feet from the door to the store. Additionally, the Big Lots was located in a shopping center that was owned by a third-party company, which was in charge of maintaining the parking lots. After the plaintiff fell, the store manager came out to clean up the spill, explaining, “if there’s something that needs to be handled immediately … we would take care of that ourselves temporarily until someone could get there … but the parking lot has always been handled by the landlord.”

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability case, dismissing the plaintiff’s claims against the defendant due to the fact that the plaintiff waited too long to file her case. In deciding the case, the court had to consider whether a clause in the residential lease between the two parties that limited the amount of time the plaintiff had to file a lawsuit against the defendant was enforceable. Ultimately, the court concluded that the clause was enforceable, and thus, the plaintiff’s case was time-barred.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff slipped and fell after stepping on a curb that crumbled when she stepped on it. The curb was located in a common area in the apartment complex where the plaintiff lived. Approximately two years after she fell, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant corporation that owned and operated the complex.

Prior to moving into her apartment, both the plaintiff and a representative of the defendant signed a residential lease agreement. Contained in that agreement was a clause whereby the plaintiff agreed that any claims against the defendant would be brought within one year. The normal statute of limitations for a personal injury case in Georgia is two years. The defendant argued that the lease agreement was binding and that the plaintiff was required to have brought her case within one year of her injury.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability lawsuit that was filed against a Chick-Fil-A fast-food restaurant after the plaintiff tripped and fell in the restaurant’s parking lot. Relevant to this appeal was the plaintiff’s claim that she did not notice the cement parking barrier that caused her to trip because she was distracted by a car in the restaurant’s drive-thru lane. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff could not benefit from the “distraction doctrine” because she failed to prove that a hazard existed in the first place.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff parked in the defendant restaurant’s parking lot, entered the restaurant without issue, and ordered her food. When she was leaving the restaurant, she left the same way she had come in. However, in order to get back to her car the plaintiff had to cross the drive-thru lane. As the plaintiff was walking across the drive-thru lane, she was distracted by a car waiting in line.

The plaintiff returned her attention to where she was going and, before she got to her car, she tripped on a low cement parking barrier. As a result of her fall, the plaintiff suffered a broken arm. She later filed a premises liability lawsuit against the restaurant.

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Recently, the Court of Appeals of Georgia issued a written opinion in an important Georgia premises liability case discussing the applicability of the state’s Recreational Property Act (RPA) to a slip-and-fall case arising out of an accident occurring at a free concert put on by a local university. The court ultimately determined that the RPA did not shield the university from liability because, although entry to the concert was free, the university may have been furthering its economic interests in putting on the concert.

The RPA

Georgia’s Recreational Property Act grants immunity to landowners who open their land for recreational purposes to the general public. In order to qualify for this immunity, a landowner must not charge a fee or receive an economic benefit for the use of their land. The stated purpose of the statute is to encourage landowners to open up their land to the public without fear of incurring financial liability should an accident occur.

The Facts of the Case

A woman was attending a free “Second Sunday” concert at a local park that was put on by a university. The park was owned by the local government, but the university had permission to use the park for the concert event. There were vendors at the concert who sold food, drink, and merchandise, but none of them paid the university. However, in a grant proposal, the university did note that its “community economic development resources” could potentially be monetized, resulting in “potential for additional revenue streams for the university.”

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability case involving a woman who fell while exiting the defendant church after a funeral. The court was tasked with determining whether the plaintiff’s allegations were sufficient to survive a defense motion for summary judgment, based on the allegation that the defendant had no knowledge of the dangerous condition. However, since the court concluded that the lack of a handrail may have constituted a dangerous condition, and there was evidence to show that the defendant had knowledge of the lack of a handrail, the court concluded that summary judgment was not appropriate.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was attending a funeral at the defendant church. After the services, the plaintiff began to leave out the front door where she had entered. However, the deacon told her to exit out the back door.

As the plaintiff was leaving out the back door, there were two steps. The plaintiff testified that the steps were dark and steep, and she could not see how many there were. As she tried to navigate her way down the steps, she fell, resulting in serious injuries. The plaintiff also testified that she tried to reach for a handrail as she fell, but one was not installed.

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Earlier this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a premises liability case that was brought by a college student who slipped and fell while walking from one class to another on a rainy day. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff presented enough evidence to survive the defendant’s summary judgment challenge, allowing her case to be submitted to a jury.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a student at Georgia Perimeter College. At the time she arrived at school, it was a nice day with clear weather. The plaintiff attended her first class, which was in a windowless classroom. After her first class ended, she went to her second class, which was in the same building and was also in a windowless classroom. Her second class ended at 11:15. During this time, the weather changed, and a rainstorm rolled in.

While the plaintiff was on the way to her third class, she slipped and fell in a puddle of water. The size of the puddle was contested, with the plaintiff claiming it consisted of “standing water,” and a professor who came to her aid estimating that there was less water present, about as much as if a wet paper towel had been wiped across the floor. The area where the plaintiff slipped was not near a door, and the water had been tracked in by fellow students.

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Earlier this month, a Georgia appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit brought by a woman who slipped and fell after using the restroom in a fast-food restaurant. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff failed to establish that the fast-food restaurant had superior knowledge of the dangerous condition that allegedly caused the plaintiff’s fall. As a result, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff dined at the defendant restaurant and then went to use the restroom. In a pre-trial deposition, the plaintiff explained that she entered the restroom and proceeded directly to the handicap stall. She did not see any water on the floor as she entered the stall. After about five or ten minutes, the plaintiff exited the stall, took about two steps, and then fell backwards. She had slipped after stepping in a puddle of water. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of her fall and filed a premises liability lawsuit against the restaurant.

In a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, the restaurant argued that the plaintiff’s case was insufficient as a matter of law because she failed to prove a required element of a Georgia premises liability lawsuit. Specifically, the restaurant argued that the plaintiff failed to show that the restaurant had superior knowledge of the hazard.

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Earlier this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit that was brought against the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). The case, which was filed by a woman who had slipped and fallen on a train platform, was dismissed by the lower court. In the most recent appellate opinion, the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case, based on the finding that the accumulated rainwater should have been expected and that it did not constitute a dangerous condition.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was planning to take a train operated by MARTA. According to the court’s opinion, it had been raining for most of the day. As the plaintiff approached the station, she entered a covered platform area. A few feet from the door of the platform, there was a small puddle of rainwater that had accumulated. No one knew how long the puddle had been present, but the plaintiff claimed that the area where the puddle had formed was darker, and she argued that this suggested there had been an accumulation of water there on-and-off for a number of months or years.

As the plaintiff stepped into the puddle, she slipped and fell. She then filed a premises liability lawsuit against MARTA, claiming that MARTA was negligent in maintaining the train platform and that it should be held liable for her injuries.

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