James Scarbrough successfully tried a slip and fall case this past week in Newton County. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant was negligent in inspecting and maintaining the premises, ultimately causing her to fall and sustain permanent, debilitating injuries.
The case is what is commonly called a “rainy day” slip-and-fall case. Georgia law is well-settled that a store is only liable when there is an unusual accumulation of water and the store has failed to follow a reasonable inspection and cleaning policy. On rainy days, such as the ones Georgia has recently experienced, a person can and should anticipate that water may be tracked into stores and businesses and that there is a risk of slipping and falling due to the weather conditions. Providing guidance regarding these conditions, the Court of Appeals has held that “the normal accumulation of water at the entrance of a business during a rainy day is not an unreasonable hazard.”
On cross examination, Mr. Scarbrough showed that there was not a large accumulation of water and that the plaintiff had a long history of prior similar conditions. The plaintiff asked that the Jury return a verdict of past and future medical expenses of over $180,000 in addition to an award of damages for past and future pain and suffering. Ultimately, the Jury found the plaintiff was 49% at fault and the store was 51% at fault. The jury awarded post apportionment damages of $3,162.
If you have questions about what Georgia law requires with respect to an owner’s responsibility to keep a premise safe on “rainy day” situations, please give us a call. We will be happy to review your policies and answer any questions that you have.
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