Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

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Earlier this month, the Court of Appeals of Georgia issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a man who had slipped and fallen at the defendant’s restaurant. Although the defendant did not initially reply to the plaintiff’s complaint, and a default judgment was entered against the defendant, that judgment was reversed on appeal because the plaintiff had never properly served the defendant.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff slipped and fell while at a restaurant owned by the defendant. After his fall, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the restaurant where he fell. As required by law, the plaintiff attempted to serve the defendant restaurant with notice of the pending case.

The restaurant, however, had a common name, and the owner of the restaurant owned similarly named restaurants. As a result of this confusion, the plaintiff ended up serving the correct owner of the restaurant, but he filed the complaint against one of the owner’s other restaurants. The owner responded that he would not be answering the complaint because it was filed against the wrong entity.

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The parents of a seventh grader filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a teacher after their child died under her care. The parents alleged that the teacher, who left her classroom unsupervised in violation of a school policy, caused the death of their child. In a recent opinion, a Georgia appeals court dismissed the lawsuit, finding the teacher was entitled to official immunity. The teacher was working at Benjamin E. Mays High School, a public school in Atlanta. The child was a seventh-grade student in the teacher’s classroom, which shared a bi-fold wall with another classroom.According to the allegations, one afternoon, the teacher left the classroom. While the teacher was gone, the child and another student engaged in horseplay. The child fell, and the other student landed on top of him. The teacher returned about 15 minutes later and then left again. The child then collapsed and became unconscious. The teacher returned about 15 minutes later and called 911. The child was pronounced dead at the hospital. The autopsy revealed that he died from blood loss, resulting from the dislocation of his collarbone.

Purportedly, the teacher originally was not truthful when asked about the incident, telling the principal she was in the classroom the entire time. Soon afterward, it was revealed that the teacher had left the classroom. It was unclear why the teacher left the classroom. In her deposition, the teacher said that she had asked the teacher in the adjoining room to listen for her class when she left the first time, but not when she left the second time. The school had a policy that stated that students were never to be left in the classroom unsupervised.

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Earlier this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a slip-and-fall case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient to survive a summary judgment challenge filed by the defendant. In the case, Pipkin v. Azalealand Nursing Home, the court determined that the plaintiff established a genuine issue of fact regarding the condition of the floor where she fell, and it was not proper for the trial judge to resolve the issue through summary judgment.

The Facts of the Case

Mr. Pipkin was taken by ambulance to the defendant nursing home. His wife, the plaintiff, was following the emergency medical technicians as they took her husband into the facility. As Mrs. Pipkin rushed down the hallway after her husband, she slipped and fell outside the nursing home’s shower room.

Mrs. Pipkin recalled that she had stepped on something “slick” that made her fall. Her son also testified, and he explained that when he came to his mother’s aid, he noticed that the floor underneath her was wet and that she was lying in a puddle of clear liquid.

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In a recent case in front of the Georgia Court of Appeals, a woman sued a Georgia grocery store after she slipped and fell on a puddle of water in the store. The woman claimed that the store negligently maintained the premises.It was unclear how the water got on the floor. Around the time the woman slipped and fell, another customer told an employee about the water on the floor. The employee told another employee, who then went to get a bucket and a mop and a wet floor sign. The employee then went to clean up the spill. Around this time, the woman slipped on the water, although it was unclear whether she fell before or after the other customer notified the employee about the spill.

The court found there was insufficient evidence the grocery store was at fault. There was evidence that the store regularly inspected for spills and that the area where the spill occurred had been inspected about 20 minutes before the woman fell. In addition, there was no evidence the employees delayed going to clean up the spill. The court explained that since there was no evidence that the store should have known about the spill before the woman fell, and there was no evidence that the store failed to exercise reasonable care in cleaning up the spill when employees were notified, she could not show the store was at fault.

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In a recent case, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that a trial court made an error when it denied a plaintiff’s motion for spoliation sanctions based on the destruction of evidence relevant to the case at hand.  “Spoliation” is another way to say that a party to litigation has destroyed or materially altered relevant evidence.  This destruction can occur at the time of the wrongful event — the negligent act — or some time thereafter.   Continue reading

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Summer is here and with outdoor activities on the rise, the potential for slip and fall accidents is high. If you are searching for a slip and fall lawyer in Atlanta, it’s important to know that there is a strict timeline for filing a slip and fall lawsuit. The process for filing a lawsuit when you have a slip and fall accident in Atlanta gets tricky, and knowing what to file at the right time will ensure you case is brought into court.
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A new study by Johns Hopkins University has discovered that slips and falls are the top cause of traumatic spinal cord injuries in the United States, overtaking car crashes as the leading cause. The study determined that 41.5 percent of spinal cord injuries were caused by slips and falls over the three-year study duration.
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Property owners have a duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for other who may enter their establishment. In the legal world, we call this premises liability.

When someone is injured on another person’s property and sues, courts first seek to determine whether the injured was allowed on the premises. If the owner consents to a person’s entry on the property, the person is deemed an invitee or licensee. When consent is not given, the person is considered a trespasser.

A property owner may be liable for injuries of an invitee or licensee if: 

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When property owners become neglectful, they can unknowingly create a dangerous situation. “Slip and fall” accidents can happen anywhere. Falls that occur inside could be the result of bad flooring, wet walkways, poorly lit steps, or hidden defects. Icy patches, cracks in the sidewalk, weather-related conditions, and potholes are the most common causes of slip and fall accidents outdoors.

Fortunately, falls often result in minor injuries that heal quickly. However, slip and fall accidents have caused severe, debilitating problems, including head, brain, and spinal cord injury, herniated disc, bone fractures or breaks, and sprains. The neck, shoulder, and knee are also major areas prone to injury during a fall.

Property owners with dangerous conditions on their premises may be liable for accidents if they are aware of the conditions and take no action to fix them. The most common conditions attributed to owner negligence include:

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An $808,000 verdict was awarded to Chandra Frankfort of New Jersey after a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk. Ms. Frankfort, 35, was walking along a sidewalk outside of an automotive body shop when she icy patch. She fractured her right ankle that required implantation of stabilizing screws and rods as a result  of the fall.  A cane is now required for walking and Ms. Franklin’s total out-of-pocket medical expenses were about $8,000.

She sued an auto repair shop alleging the shop owner was negligent in not removing the ice and snow from the sidewalk and warning of its presence. The defendant argued back that Ms. Frankfort was equally negligent as she was a local resident and knew about the condition of the sidewalk.

Ms. Frankfort was a pharmaceutical marketing representative earning about $110,000 annually at the time of the accident.  As a result of her impaired ability to walk, Frankfort was forced to find another line of work and became a college counselor earning about $35,000 annually. In the wake of lost future earning capacity, the plaintiff sought about $2 million. The jury allocated 80 percent fault to the defendant and 20 percent to the plaintiff and awarded about $808,000 to Ms. Frankfort.