Slip and fall accidents happen everyday in businesses across the state of Georgia, causing varying levels of injury from minor scrapes and bruises, to catastrophic injury, to death. The owner or manager of a property is obliged to maintain safe premises through reasonable care. The property owner is under a duty to avoid and minimize the risk of harm to their patrons, which is achieved through regular and thorough inspection of the premises or cautioning others of a hazardous condition. Failure to uphold this obligation can result in the land owner or manger’s liability to the person or people injured.
Anyone injured by a slip-and-fall accident needs an experienced attorney at their side to navigate through the legal system. A recent state Court of Appeal Decision, J.H. Harvey Co., LLC v. Freeman, A14A0702, affirms this necessity. In this slip-and-fall case, the alleged at-fault party filed for summary judgment to dismiss the lawsuit and also filed a separate motion for an oral hearing, but the lower court judge ignored established case law that permits such a hearing, and granted the injured’s motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeals did not rule on the merits of the case, and summarized existing case law that dictates that an oral argument, once requested in a timely manner, must be heard. The Court of Appeals noted that there was no other opportunity to present an argument prior to the determination for or against motions of summary judgment. If the trial court does not have an opportunity to hear and consider argument, then presentation of the legal issues within summary judgment to an appellate court is premature. The Court of Appeals made a narrow ruling in favor of the defendant entity, vacated the ruling, and remanded the case for a hearing on the motion.
When an injured party in Georgia files suit against the property or business owner, several deadlines are instantly imposed. The initial important deadline to meet is the Statute of Limitations, which restricts the amount of time an injured party has to file suit. Most actions for personal injury must be brought within two years after the right of action accrues – generally when the injury occurs. Following the filing of the suit, deadlines for motions, claims, and answers all become integral to the success of the civil action. Understanding of applicable case law and insurance company practices are all essential in a personal injury action, but actual litigation experience is equally vital to the outcome of one’s slip-and-fall case. Continue reading