Through the years the law in Georgia applicable to a slip and fall incident traditionally favored the landowner of the property over the injured victim involved in a slip and fall incident. The burden of proof to overcome being kicked out of court on summary judgment was extremely hard to establish and prove for the injured victim. However, in a series of Georgia cases over the last two decades, the pendulum has slowly turned back allowing an injured victim a chance at recovering damages associated with a slip and fall accident.
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The owner of the establishment or property must take the time to maintain a safe environment and/or provide sufficient cautionary warnings for invited guests. When evaluating a slip and fall incident, you should first look to the statutory law on a slip and fall issue which states “Where an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe”.
The burden of proof pendulum first swung back in favor of the injured victim when the Georgia Supreme Court stated: “Demanding as a matter of law that an invitee visually inspect each footfall requires an invitee to look continuously at the floor for defects, a task an invitee is not required to perform since the invitee is entitled to assume that the owner/occupier has exercised reasonable care to make the premises safe for the invitee on the premises.” See Robinson vs. Kroger Company, 268 Ga. 735 (1997).
Then, after a few cases that were rendered by the appellate courts in Georgia which favored the injured victims in a slip and fall case, The Georgia Supreme Court outlined in a historic decision how the trial courts should view slip and fall cases. The direction that they gave to the trial court judges is as follows:
“Slip and falls happen. But many can be prevented, or at least rendered substantially less likely to occur. An owner or occupier of land has a legal duty, enforceable by lawsuit, to exercise ordinary care to keep and maintain its premises and the approaches in a condition that does not pose an unreasonable risk of foreseeable harm to the invited public.” See American Multi-Cinema, Inc., et al. v. Brown et al., 285 Ga. 442 (2009).
“In sum, we remind members of the judiciary that the “routine” issues of premises liability, i.e., the negligence of the defendant and the plaintiff, and the plaintiff’s lack of ordinary care for personal safety are generally not susceptible of summary adjudication, and that summary judgment is granted only when the evidence is plain, palpable, and undisputed.” See American Multi-Cinema, Inc., et al. v. Brown et al., 285 Ga. 442 (2009).
“To put it in more concrete terms, this means that issues such as how closely a particular retailer should monitor its premises and approaches, what retailers should know about the property’s condition at any given time, how vigilant patrons must be for their own safety in various settings, and where customers should be held responsible for looking or not looking are all questions that, in general, must be answered by juries as a matter of fact rather than by judges as a matter of law.” See American Multi-Cinema, Inc., et al. v. Brown et al., 285 Ga. 442 (2009).
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