Slip, Trip and Fall Victims Win in the Georgia Court of Appeals
The Georgia Court of Appeals has often ruled that Trip and Slip and Fall cases should usually be decided by a Jury, and not dismissed by a Judge before Trial. Here are a couple of 2014 (still good law today) examples of cases where the Court Ruled that a Jury should decide whether the business owner should be held responsible for having created or maintained a dangerous hazard and should be made to pay for the injuries.
In one case, a woman was seriously injured when she stepped off a handicap ramp into the parking lot of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. The injury victim showed evidence that the ramp may have been dangerous and defectively designed. Instead of being even with the parking lot, the bottom of the ramp was elevated above the parking lot. No warning, such as yellow paint, was provided to alert customers about the drop off.
The Trial Judge dismissed the case against KFC, ruling, in part, that because there was nothing blocking the victim’s view of the ramp, and because she had not presented any “expert” testimony that the ramp was dangerous, she had no case.
Fortunately, the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed the Trial Court Judge. The Appeals Court said a jury should have heard the case because there were questions as to whether KFC created a hazard by building a handicapped ramp with a drop off, failing to warn customers about the drop off, and placing a loose parking barrier near end of ramp.
The Court of Appeals also said that expert testimony is not required on the question of the ramp design. Lay people, the Judges said, can assess whether the lack of warning created a hazard as a result of drop off at the end of the handicap ramp.
The other case involves a man who suffered a serious back injury after falling in a hotel bathtub. In this case, the grab bar came off the shower – bathtub wall as the victim tried to pull himself up from taking a bath.
The victim was able to prove that at least one hand rail (“grab bar”) in the hotel had been previously repaired, and that hotel maintenance had also repaired a cracked bathtub wall. This testimony meant there were questions fact about whether the hotel had knowledge of defective hand rails, and whether the hotel had a legal responsibility to inspect all bathtub railings in the hotel. The Court also found that there were other questions about whether the hotel operator had reasonable safety inspection procedures and whether local building codes had been violated.
These two cases show that the Georgia Court of Appeals believes that Jurors should usually be allowed to hear and weigh all the evidence related to premises liability issues.
Despite these rulings, however, business and property owners will often deny liability for personal injuries resulting from falls on their property. An experienced Atlanta slip-and-fall accident attorney can meet with you to discuss your legal options if you have been injured because of the negligence of others. At The Millar Law Firm, we are Atlanta’s Advocate for slip-and-fall cases; call us for your free consultation today.