When you propose to do business and invite the public into your premises, you assume extra responsibility for their safety. In theory, you fling open the doors and invite everybody. In this country, you understand that when they walk through the door, you must do your best to keep them safe and sound. But people are unpredictable.
How often in your lifetime have you walked into a restaurant, observed a ‘wet floor’ sign, and proceeded without using any extra caution at all? ‘Wet floor’ or other warning signs don’t always work. It may be normal for human beings to respond to a ‘wet paint’ sign by immediately touching the paint. Nevertheless, if it is our duty to look out for the welfare of others on our premises – and it is – having such warnings present when there is danger is critically important.
A Traumatic Knee Injury From a Slip and Fall
In this case, Vineyard Industries, Inc. v. Bailey, 2017 Ga. App., a teenaged girl on her way to school, walked into a McDonald’s Restaurant to use the rest room. While in the building, she slipped and fell on a wet floor near the drink machine, resulting in a serious knee injury. (It should be said here that the victim was not on her cell phone or otherwise distracted at the time of the fall.)
There was no warning sign cautioning patrons about the unsafe condition of the floor. There was, however an employee nearby mopping the floor. (Another employee who came to help the girl after the fall mentioned that the warning sign should have been deployed by the employee who was doing the mopping.)
The Reward Granted to the Slip and Fall Victim
The girl’s mother sued on behalf of the minor child. She alleged that the restaurant was negligent and after a two-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of mother and daughter awarding $16,206.51 to the mother for past medical expenses incurred on behalf of the minor child and $28,224.82 for past medical expenses, $29,999 for future medical expenses, and $600,000 for the child’s pain and suffering . It also entered judgment for the mother in the amount of $10,928.94 as interest under Georgia’s Unliquidated Damages Act.
Following the denial of its motion for a new trial the owners of the restaurant filed an appeal.
The defendant appealed on several alleged errors made by the trial court including; allowing plaintiffs to use a chalk board during opening arguments as a visual aid for the jury’s benefit, as well as several errors involving the status of an expert witness precluding the testimony of that expert witnesses in an untimely fashion. (He was to testify that putting up a warning sign does not make a difference in the behavior of people observing it. This testimony was meant to prove that the minor was at fault for her fall.) Defendants also claimed that the damages awarded by the jury were excessive.
Multiple Knee Surgeries for a Healthy Girl
The bad news here is that this young, athletic girl will spend years recovering from this injury. She has had three knee surgeries to date, and anticipates another surgery in the spring of 2018 when she graduates from college. She walks with a knee brace and remains limited in her ability to enjoy her normal activities.
The good news is that the Georgia Court of Appeals did not overturn the trial court jury’s verdict. The courts in Georgia are reluctant to overturn jury verdicts because the law finds their ‘enlightened’ judgment concerning the plaintiff’s pain and suffering today, as well as the pain the plaintiff may experience today or in the future. The verdict in this case did not shock the conscious, which is required before a jury’s verdict can be set aside.
Slip and Fall Accidents Can Result in Serious Traumatic Injuries
When people are injured, they sometimes fail to consider that their pain may go on for a very long time. Insurance companies and their adjustors do what they can to get victims of the negligence of others to settle quickly. The faster they can get you, the injured party, to sign away your rights, the happier they are.
Considering how the injuries may taint the remainder of their lives, it is wise to take your time before you settle. If you’ve been injured by the negligence of others, don’t allow yourself to be hurried or bullied into settling quickly. Instead, call the legal team at The Millar Law Firm – we handle slip and fall accident lawsuits. We’ll be happy to review your case to see if you may be able to recover. We know how the law works, and we understand how to present your case to give you the best hope for a happy future. We’re in your corner.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The above article is a factually-accurate case history of an actual previously litigated or settled Georgia case. The case was reported on in local media and/or legal reporting services and it was not handled by The Millar Law Firm. However, we think our current and prospective clients may find this information interesting and informative as the case is factually similar to cases our office routinely handles. Please be advised that The Millar Law Firm makes no guarantees your case will have a similar outcome, as past results of our firm or of other lawyers and law firms are not guarantees of future performance.