Can you sue a hotel for a slip and fall at the pool? The Court of Appeals in Georgia recently issued an opinion in a slip and fall lawsuit against a hotel that sheds some light on what facts support a valid lawsuit against the hotel.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff suffered serious injuries after falling on a wet sidewalk near the hotel’s pool. Evidently, on the evening of the incident, the woman and her grandchildren were leaving the pool when she noticed that the hotel’s sidewalk was shiny and looked “slick.” Her grandson was walking in front of her, still wet from the pool, and she warned him to slow down. However, shortly after warning her grandson, she slipped on the wet sidewalk and fell.
The heart of the claim for why the hotel was responsible and not the grandma is that the paint on the sidewalk had deteriorated to the point that it no longer had “grip” and was slippery instead. In support of her claim, the plaintiff presented an expert witness affidavit, stating that, in the expert’s opinion, the hotel failed to maintain the sidewalk in a safe condition. The affidavit indicated that the deteriorating sidewalk paint was hazardous, especially when it became wet.
The expert opined that the woman’s fall and injuries were likely due to the uneven surface material on the sidewalk. In response, the hotel argued that it was not liable because the woman had equal or superior knowledge of the hazardous sidewalk, and she assumed the risk by trying to negotiate the hazard. The trial court denied the hotel’s motion for summary judgment; however, the appellate court reversed that decision.
In Georgia, business owners must keep their premises safe and warn their invitees of hidden dangers. However, property owners are not “insurers of safety,” and a plaintiff must show more than the occurrence of an injury to establish negligence. To succeed in a premises liability claim, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant knew about the hazard, and the plaintiff, despite exercising due care, lacked knowledge of the danger. Generally, plaintiffs must establish that the business owner had superior knowledge of the danger. If the plaintiff cannot meet this showing, the court may grant summary judgment in favor of the defendant.
Here, the person who fell not only noticed that the deck looked slick but also verbally warned her grandchildren, thereby demonstrating that she objectively knew the risks. The court isn’t saying that the deck was not dangerous, it’s saying that when the victim has knowledge of the danger before they fall, they cannot sue. The basis of liability is an imbalance of information and here, they have equal knowledge.
In this case, the hotel argued that the plaintiff testified she had walked the same sidewalk when she checked in to the hotel, at which point she noticed the chipped paint. She also testified that when she was walking back to her room from the pool, the lighting illuminated the deterioration, and the surface looked wet and shiny. The defendants claimed that she chose to negotiate the uneven surface, despite knowing that it was hazardous. The appellate court found that the plaintiff could not overcome the hotel’s motions for summary judgment because her deposition testimony showed that she had equal knowledge of the hazard before she walked on the sidewalk.
This case highlights the significant substantive and procedural burdens that Georgia slip and fall victims typically encounter. To avoid these unwanted outcomes, slip and fall accident victims should contact an experienced injury attorney to help them pursue their claims.
Have You Been Injured on Another’s Property?
If you or someone you know has suffered injuries in a Georgia slip and fall accident, contact Christopher Simon Attorney at Law. The attorneys at our law firm possess the legal knowledge and litigation skills to help you effectively pursue the compensation you deserve. We provide all of our clients with individualized attention and take steps to anticipate and prepare for the various issues that arise in all types of Georgia personal injury cases. Our clients routinely recover compensation for their injuries, including payments for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact our office at 404- 259-7635 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.