Georgia Court Discusses “Equal Knowledge” in Recent Sip-and-Fall Case

Georgia slip and fall cases are all about knowledge. To win one of these cases, the store has to know more about the spill than you do, either because it has been there for a while or because they had employees in the area. The corollary is, if you have reason to know about it, you cannot blame them when you fall. Therefore,  one of the most challenging issues plaintiffs in Georgia slip-and-fall cases encounter is the burden to establish that the defendant’s knowledge of the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries was greater than their own. A recent appellate decision issued by the Court of Appeals of Georgia illustrates the difficulties a plaintiff may face when attempting to establish not only a defendant’s knowledge of the hazard, but also their own lack of knowledge.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was running an errand for her employer, which required her to pick up an item at the defendant’s shop. It was a cold day, and when she arrived, she noticed that there was a patch of partially frozen water at the base of the steps leading up to the front door of the shop. Upon closer inspection, the plaintiff realized that the water was coming from a spigot that had been left open so that it would not freeze in the cold weather.

The plaintiff made her way around the ice and up the stairs into the shop, where she encountered an employee. She notified the employee of the ice, and he suggested she leave out of a different door. However, the employee told the plaintiff not to let anyone else know he had given her permission to exit through the alternate door, because it could get him fired.

The plaintiff left the employee to search for the alternate exit. Upon finding it, however, she realized it was locked. The plaintiff searched for a nearby employee to unlock the door, but she couldn’t find anyone. When the plaintiff went back to the employee, he had people in his office. The plaintiff decided not to ask the employee to unlock the door in front of other people because she did not want him to get fired.

The plaintiff then left out of the same door she entered. As she descended the steps, she slipped on the patch of ice she had previously pointed out to the employee and sustained injuries. The plaintiff then filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant. This is idiotic. You KNEW about the problem and yet you failed to be careful coming out. Own your actions and don’t file a lawsuit!

The Court’s Opinion

The court held that the plaintiff’s equal (or superior) knowledge of the hazard was fatal to her claim, and dismissed her case against the defendant. In so holding, the court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that she had no other choice but to use the front door because she did not want to risk getting the employee fired. The court disagreed that the plaintiff was “forced” or “coerced” to leave out of the front door, explaining that the plaintiff’s fear of the employee losing his job did not rise to the level necessary to establish that the plaintiff had no other viable option.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Attorney Christopher M. Simon is an experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer who is dedicated to standing up for the rights of accident victims. He provides a unique form of client-centered representation to ensure that his clients are fully involved in their cases and always kept up-to-date, while doing everything he can to make sure that they are fairly compensated for their injuries. To learn more, call 404-259-7635 to schedule a free consultation today.

Read More:

Uninsured Motorist Insurance Notice Denial Can Be Beaten With Some Arguments, Atlanta Injury Attorney Blog, published June 20, 2018

East Cobb Car Accident Verdict Reversed Based on Judge’s Failure to Instruct Georgia Jury on Defendant’s Lack-of-Knowledge Defense, Atlanta Injury Attorney Blog, published May 28, 2018