When you (or your child) are injured in a store, parking lot, another person’s home, a daycare center, or government-owned property, you may be entitled to compensation. These cases fall under the broad legal category of premises liability cases. We will address some questions that potential premises liability clients frequently ask us at HPS Law. However, please remember that every case is unique. The only way to know if you have a good case is to consult with one of the lawyers at HPS Law.
I’ve been injured on someone else’s property. What should I do now?
Take photographs of the place where you fell. This tip is especially important if a substance on the floor caused your fall. Report the incident to a store manager or property owner. If you did not fall at a store, immediately document the exact location of your fall or injury. The key is to document the incident and help show that your injuries were a direct result of your fall. Insurance carriers often try to blame your injuries on something other than the fall or incident (we have another FAQ addressing this topic below).
Should I give a recorded statement after a slip and fall injury?
No, absolutely not. This tip is especially true for premises liability cases. These cases are won or lost on what most nonlawyers would consider unimportant facts. You cannot help your case by giving a recorded statement, but you can certainly hurt it. Even if you think you have a slam dunk case, insurance companies will gather harmful information to later be used against you. Remember that claims adjusters receive special training to ask questions designed to benefit the insurance company and harm your case. Also, recorded statements can be used to impeach your testimony if you have to file a lawsuit.
I slipped and fell at a friend’s home. Do I have a case?
Maybe. The law is different if you are a social guest at someone’s home. What could result in a successful claim against a store owner may not always result in a winning case against an individual homeowner. Also, keep in mind that HPS Law rarely ever tries to recover directly from a person. If your friend or acquaintance owns a home, the home is almost always insured under a homeowner’s insurance policy. This insurance policy will pay for your damages if a slip and fall injury lawyer at HPS Law can prove that you have a claim under Georgia law. In other words, you won’t be collecting money from your friend.
I was trespassing. Do I have a slip and fall injury case?
Probably not, but sometimes you (or your child) may have a case. Under Georgia law, if you are trespassing, the owner of land or the building where you are injured is typically responsible only for your injuries if that owner intentionally caused your injuries. However, there is one big exception. It is called the attractive nuisance doctrine. This applies to children that enter another person’s property. We typically see this doctrine apply when (1) an owner has a swimming pool that is not enclosed and a child drowns or (2) the owner has a trampoline and a child is injured.
Why should I contact HPS Law for a consultation regarding my potential premises liability case?
When you call HPS Law, your potential case will be evaluated by one of our lawyers free of charge. Unfortunately, many prospective clients that call other injury law firms never have their potential cases evaluated by attorneys. Many other personal injury law firms rely on “Case Managers” or “Intake Specialists” to evaluate potential cases. This is another way of saying that an attorney is not evaluating your case. Georgia premises liability law is very complex and non-lawyers frequently miss important information when evaluating potential new cases. Do not rely on advice from a non-lawyer. Your potential case deserves attention from a licensed and experienced slip and fall injury lawyer like those at HPS Law.
I was injured on state, county, city, or other government property. Should I talk to a slip and fall injury lawyer?
Possibly. These cases are often the most complex of all premises liability cases. In fact, some personal injury law firms refuse to consider these because of the time demands and requirements imposed on lawyers and injury victims.
Before an injured person can file a lawsuit against a city, county, state, or other government entity, an Ante Litem notice must be filed. Basically, this is a letter that an injured party or their attorney must send to certain people, agencies, and groups of people detailing facts, law, and damages. If an Ante Litem notice is not sent within the timeframe provided under Georgia law, your potential case will be denied. Also, if an Ante Litem notice does not exactly comply with Georgia law, your claim will be denied. You may have as little as six months to send an Ante Litem notice. If you were injured on any government property, call HPS Law immediately.
Why should I call HPS Law as soon as possible after an injury on someone’s property?
You need to collect and save evidence. For example, if you have suffered an injury at a store, the store has no legal obligation to save evidence related to your injury unless you specifically request it to save evidence. In fact, Georgia law will not allow injury victims to present evidence in trial that a store fixed or repaired a dangerous condition (the legal term for this is subsequent remedial measures). To help clients fight big insurance companies that cover stores and to prevent evidence from disappearing, HPS Law will send a preservation of evidence letter to prevent destruction of evidence. This is a letter that compels a store owner to save evidence related to your injury. If the store does not save the evidence after receiving this letter, the judge will tell the jury to assume the evidence was not favorable to the store. At HPS Law, we send a preservation of evidence letter on every premises liability case we handle.
Your time to file a claim may be running out. Some cases require an Ante Litem notice to be sent within six months from the date that you were injured (see our FAQ about injuries on state, county, city, or other government property for more information on this topic).
The insurance company denied my claim because it was open and obvious. What are they talking about, and why does this matter?
If you suffer an injury on someone else’s property in Georgia, there are many potential ways an insurance company can defend your case. Open and obvious is one of the many defenses used by insurance companies handling premises liability cases. Basically, this defense states that if the injured person easily could have seen the hazardous condition (often something spilled or dropped on the floor), the store owner is not legally obligated to pay the injured victim.
Insurance company adjusters frequently deny claims by using this legal defense without examining all the facts. For example, if you told the insurance adjuster that the puddle of liquid that caused your fall was massive but did not go into more detail, the insurance adjuster may deny your claim based on that fact alone. Some other important facts to know before denying this type of claim include not only the size of the spill, but also what color the flooring was and what color the liquid was that spilled. Was the liquid clear? Was the floor white? If so, the spilled liquid may not be open and obvious despite the fact that there was a lot of it on the floor. The bottom line is that slip and fall cases require thorough legal evaluation by experienced lawyers. The lawyers at HPS Law are happy to talk with you regarding your potential claim, even if it has been denied by an insurance adjuster.
I was attacked or robbed on someone’s property. Should I talk to a slip and fall injury lawyer?
It depends on the specific facts. If you were attacked and suffered injuries (including sexual assault), the lawyers at HPS Law would like to speak with you to determine if you have a case. Some of the important factors to consider include prior attacks or assaults at or near the location where you were attacked, the level of security provided, and similar police investigations conducted before your incident.
My child was injured at a daycare. May I bring a case for my child?
Yes. The law in Georgia allows parents to bring claims on behalf of their children (legally referred to as minors). Keep in mind that in Georgia a minor is defined as anyone under the age of 18 years.
Bright from the Start, also known as the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, is the agency that will investigate any report regarding a licensing violation at a childcare center, group day care or family childcare home. It is often useful to file a complaint with this agency when your child is injured at a day care facility. Additionally, the lawyers at HPS Law can obtain valuable information regarding incidents at childcare facilities.