Each year, roughly one million people in the U.S. visit the emergency room after a slip-and-fall accident, the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) says. People can slip and fall at work, at home, at stores, on sidewalks and parking lots and in a wide variety of other public and private locations.
In many cases, these accidents could have been avoided if proper safety measures had been taken or if the property owner had responsibly maintained a safe environment. These negligent property owners can be held accountable for the losses they cause.
The Atlanta slip-and-fall lawyers at Millar & Mixon, LLC, have been representing clients injured in Georgia slip-and-fall accidents since 1995. We have recovered millions of dollars for injured victims. If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, contact us today to learn how we can help you. Call 770-477-6360 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation about your case.
Where Do Atlanta Slip-and-Fall Accidents Occur?
Although statistics show that falls are more likely to occur among the elderly, anyone can suffer a slip and fall (or trip and fall) at any time. The reason that slip-and-fall accidents are so common is that they can happen almost anywhere. Locations where these accidents can occur in Atlanta and elsewhere are:
- Homes – When a person invites you onto their property, they need to make sure the area is safe from hazards such as holes or uneven or broken walkways.
- Work – Falls are the primary cause of missed work days and the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims. Construction sites, in particular, present slip-and-fall risks such as slick floors and areas cluttered with materials and equipment.
- Stores and restaurants – Falls can occur in department stores, grocery stores, superstores like a Wal-Mart or in small shops. The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association indicates that more than three million food service employees and one million patrons experience slip-and-fall injuries annually in restaurants.
- Sidewalks and parking lots – Falls on sidewalks can create significant legal complications if the sidewalk was public property. Filing a claim against the government raises issues with governmental immunity that do not arise in a lawsuit filed against a private party. Parking lots also present a great risk of slip-and-fall injuries during winter months and at night if the lot is not properly lit.
- Elevators and escalators – According to WebMD, children and teens throughout the U.S. suffered more than 29,000 elevator injuries between 1990 and 2004. This means that around 1,940 elevator injuries occurred each year. Adults are also susceptible to elevator injury due to a slip and fall. A 2008 New York Times article stated that around 2,660 people age 65 and older were injured in an escalator accident each year between 1991 and 2005. Eighty-five percent of the escalator injuries during this time resulted from slips and falls. Adults and children of all ages are also at risk of escalator slip-and-fall injuries.
- Office buildings – While falls are especially prevalent in the trucking industry, construction industry and in the mining and maintenance industries, the NFSI indicates that falls occur in virtually all manufacturing and service sectors. This means that office workers and those visiting offices aren’t immune from the risk of a fall, especially when lobbies are freshly mopped and slippery.
- Apartment complexes – A fall in an apartment complex can also present legal complications because it is necessary to determine whether the landlord or the apartment renter (or both) should be held responsible for the resulting injuries.
- Sports arenas – Sports arenas are crowded and dangerous places, and a fall could happen on an escalator, when walking in the hallways or in the bleachers.
- Public parks – Like public sidewalks, public parks present the possibility that the government will be the one responsible for the injuries. Again, this makes a claim more complicated due to limited governmental immunity protections.
- Nursing homes – According to the NFSI, more than 60 percent of residents in nursing homes will suffer some type of fall each year.
Each day, people spend a large portion of their time in one or more of these places when they are at home, work, school, running errands or participating in recreational activities. With so many potential locations presenting a risk of a fall, it should come as no surprise that slip-and-fall cases are common throughout Atlanta and Georgia.
Types of Atlanta Slip-and-Fall Accidents
While slip-and-fall accidents can happen almost anywhere, they are most likely to occur when maintenance problems exist or when a building is not designed in a safe and effective way. The most common reasons for slip-and-fall accidents include:
- Broken railings
- Wet and/or slippery floors
- Overcrowded aisles at stores
- Icy road or sidewalk surfaces, especially when black ice is present
- Uneven pavement or surfaces
- Torn carpets
- Cracks or holes in the floor or ground
- Exposed cables
- Insufficient lighting
- Sudden dips or rises in the height of pavement
- Cracked pavement
- Dirt, debris or other tripping hazards in a walking path.
These different causes of slip-and-fall accidents can result in:
- Trip-and-fall accidents where you encounter something unexpected in your path, like debris lying in a store aisle.
- Stump-and-fall accidents where your foot is moving and encounters an impediment that prevents you from continuing your step, such as a piece of torn carpet or a sticky point on the floor.
- Step-and-fall accidents where you step forward into something unexpected, such as a dip in the pavement.
- Slip-and-fall accidents where your center of gravity is not properly supported as your foot lands on the floor.
Any type of slip and fall, trip and fall, stump and fall or step and fall can be very dangerous. These are all classified as falls on the same level, as opposed to falls that occur when you topple from an elevation. Approximately 60 percent of all slip-and-fall injuries that lead to compensation are falls on the same level, according to the NFSI.
Types of Atlanta Slip-and-Fall Injuries
When you experience a slip and fall, you can suffer a wide variety of different injuries depending on your age, how far you fell and how you landed. Some of the most common types of slip-and-fall injuries include:
- Broken bones – Many people who experience a fall will break their wrist as a result of using their hands to brace themselves as they fall. However, a variety of different bones in the body could suffer breaks, depending on how you land.
- Hip fractures – Hip fractures are especially common – and especially devastating – among the elderly. Tragically, the NFSI indicates that a person age 85 and over is between 10 and 15 times as likely as someone age 60-65 to experience a hip fracture. NFSI also reports that half of all adults 65 and older who are hospitalized for a hip fracture are never able to live independently again.
- Knee injuries – A torn ACL or other knee injuries are all potential results of a slip-and-fall accident.
- Shoulder injuries – A torn rotator cuff is just one of several shoulder injuries that a person can experience as a result of a slip and fall.
- Brain injuries – Brain injuries can range from a concussion to a serious and long-lasting case of traumatic brain injury. TBI can cause memory lapses, mood changes, cognitive impairment, fatigue and other very serious health problems that you may never fully recover from.
- Neck injuries – Neck injuries can range from whiplash to a broken neck. Whiplash occurs when the neck is thrust forward and then backward too quickly and/or too far, damaging the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments and joints) in the neck. A person may recover completely from whiplash or may have ongoing and painful symptoms.
- Back injuries – Back injuries can include a slipped or herniated disc, vertebrae damage, soft tissue damage or other issues. Back injuries often cause significant pain and can be difficult to treat.
- Spinal cord injuries – A complete spinal cord injury can cause total paralysis, while an incomplete spinal cord injury resulting from a slip and fall can cause partial paralysis below the affected area.
In many cases, the injury resulting from a fall will have serious and ongoing consequences. You may incur significant medical bills and be limited in your ability to work or even be unable to earn a living after suffering a slip-and-fall injury.
Recovering Compensation for an Atlanta Slip-and-Fall Injury
When a slip and fall occurs, the costs of medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering and other damages can be very high. In the event that a slip and fall leads to death, the costs may be even higher as a family is left without the companionship, love and financial support that their loved one was providing.
The Atlanta slip-and-fall attorneys at Millar & Mixon, LLC, can assist injured victims in recovering compensation after a slip-and-fall injury has occurred. The burden is on the injured victim (or his surviving family members) to prove that the premises owner or person responsible for the premises should be held liable for injury.
Under Georgia law, property owners / occupiers have an obligation to their visitors or patrons to make sure that the property is reasonably safe. The nature of this obligation is based on the reason for the injured person’s being on the property.
For example, customers at a store are considered “invitees.” Store owners have the highest obligation to ensure their safety by regularly checking the store for any potential hazards and by correcting them or warning guests of the danger. Casual visitors such as friends or neighbors, on the other hand, are called “licensees.” Those who invite them are expected to fix dangers or warn guests about dangers only if the homeowner knows or reasonably should know about the danger.
To win your slip-and-fall case, you’ll need to establish what your status was. You’ll then need to prove that the property owner or occupier was more careless than they should have been. For example, you’ll need to show the store or property owner knew or should have known about the danger (had notice), had a chance to warn you or correct the problem and failed to do so.
In order to recover compensation, it is also important that you show that you didn’t go into an obviously dangerous situation. If you did, you can be deprived of your right to make a claim. This rule is called the Georgia “open and obvious” doctrine. This is a legal rule that essentially says that the property owner isn’t liable if it was clear that the situation was a dangerous hazard and you voluntarily walked into it anyway.
Insurance companies know that proving the property owner had notice and proving that the danger wasn’t open and obvious can be difficult for injured fall victims, and they may be reluctant to offer a fair settlement. You may have to argue your case in court (where you’ll need to have solid evidence proving your case).
When a personal injury attorney from Millar & Mixon, LLC, represents you, we will ensure you have the proof you need to make your slip-and-fall case. We can help you find engineers and other expert witnesses, subpoena maintenance records and otherwise gather evidence that the property owner should be liable. We will work to negotiate a settlement when a fair resolution is possible out of court, and we are always ready to go to trial to represent you.
Contact an Atlanta Slip-and-Fall Accident Lawyer Today
At Millar & Mixon, LLC, we offer a free evaluation of your case. If we represent you, we will take your case on a contingent fee basis. This means that if we do not recover compensation for you, you will not be charged legal fees.
To learn more about how we can help and to schedule your free consultation, get in touch with us today using our online contact form or calling 770-477-6360.