Slip-and-fall accidents are quite common and can happen anywhere. Whether the incident occurs in a park or store, or on a sidewalk or construction site, it can lead to severe injuries. In 2021, the US Bureau of Labour Statistics reported a 5.6 percent increase in work-related slip-and-fall fatalities.
Serious slip-and-fall accidents can leave victims with high medical costs and other significant losses. You thus have the right to file a personal injury claim to receive fair compensation when you encounter these circumstances. In this article, we will explore the importance of documenting evidence in Atlanta slip and fall cases and how this plays a pivotal role in building strong claims.
Understanding How Slip and Fall Cases Are Handled in Atlanta
Slip-and-fall accidents fall under premises liability. Premises liability cases arise when injury is inflicted on someone else’s property due to an unsafe or dangerous condition. Property owners can be held responsible for accidents that occur on the premises due to negligence.
To establish a strong slip and fall claim, the injured party (plaintiff) must demonstrate that:
- The property owner had a duty of care – The responsibility to take all reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable harm to another person
- The property owner breached the duty of care through negligence
- The breach of duty directly caused the slip-and-fall accident
- The plaintiff suffered injuries, losses, and damages as a result of the fall accident
How to Gather Various Types of Evidence to Include in Personal Injury Claims
Building a strong slip-and-fall case is highly dependent on documenting evidence. A skilled personal injury lawyer can help you gather all the necessary documents before evidence diminishes.
For example, cuts and bruises may heal before you reach the settlement or trial stage. Additionally, a witness’s memory could become less accurate over time.
Therefore, without quick action and proper documentation, the property owner’s lawyer or insurance company could undermine your claim. Let’s discuss various types of evidence that are crucial in this context.
Request a copy of the incident report
After a slip-and-fall accident, you can request an incident report at the precise location where it occurred. If the accident happened on private property, you could request a report from the property owner, manager, or security personnel. Note, however, that not all property owners will be cooperative. This is why it is always best to have an experienced attorney advocating for you throughout the legal process.
If your slip-and-fall was on public property, your lawyer may need to contact the local government agency responsible for the property. You can file an incident report request with the relevant agency under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A FOIA allows you to get incident reports from government agencies.
Collect photos of the accident scene
A picture is worth a thousand words. Photographs provide a visual record to help establish the conditions of the accident scene.
If possible, take pictures of the scene with your cell phone. You most likely won’t get another chance to document the fall hazards.
Be sure to take pictures of:
- The hazards that caused the slip-and-fall, such as wet floors, uneven surfaces, or debris
- The overall environment, including signage and lighting
- Any visible injuries sustained during the fall
- The weather conditions at the time of the incident (such as rain, snow, or ice)
- Any objects or obstacles that might have contributed to the fall
- Take pictures of witnesses only if they give you permission
Request surveillance video footage
Many commercial areas in Atlanta have surveillance cameras keeping a virtual eye on the premises. It is prudent to request and preserve the footage from these cameras to strengthen your personal injury claim.
The only evidence better than photos, you might say, is video. Videos can provide a more complete view of the fall accident scene, the property or weather conditions, and the parties involved.
Make a record of witness statements
Eyewitness accounts can provide a non-biased perspective on the slip-and-fall accident. If any people who saw what happened are willing, take their contact information and ask them to provide statements about what they saw. Witnesses can testify as to the conditions of the property and the fall victim’s actions.
Acquire and compile medical records and expert testimony
Your medical records can serve as strong evidence of the severity of your injuries. Documenting the extent of your injuries and medical treatment can affect the amount of compensation you may receive. Medical records, diagnoses, and treatment plans serve as tangible evidence of your injuries.
This is especially helpful if your injuries are internal and not immediately visible – spinal or traumatic brain injuries or bone fractures, for example. Medical records can also indicate whether the injuries were caused by the slip-and-fall or due to pre-existing health conditions.
Take pictures of your footwear and clothing
Documenting footwear and clothing may seem trivial, but could be a useful way of preserving evidence in your case. Sometimes property owners try to shift the blame to the victim.
The defendant or his or her lawyer might argue that inappropriate footwear or clothing led to the slip-and-fall. Documenting the types of shoes and clothing you wore, and even holding on to your shoes in a sealed plastic bag for some time, can help prove that your attire was not a contributing factor.
Document the weather conditions
In cases where the weather played a role in the slip-and-fall, documenting these details at the time of the incident is essential. Recording the weather conditions provides context for evaluating the property owner’s responsibility for the accident. For example, if it rained or snowed that day, the property owner might be expected to put up warning signs or close off slippery areas.
Keep communication records
In the aftermath of a slip-and-fall accident, keeping meticulous records of all communications becomes invaluable. You should gather any emails, letters, or messages between you and the property owner or insurance companies.
This helps establish a clear timeline of the events after your slip-and-fall accident. From notifying the property owner of the incident to any follow-up discussions, communication records also serve as evidence of notice. In other words, these records will be proof of you taking the necessary steps to address the accident and communicate with the relevant parties involved.
Request building maintenance records
Property owners have a responsibility to ensure that every premises under their control is safe for visitors. Routine maintenance is one way owners or managers can accomplish this.
Gathering maintenance records and inspection logs can provide insight into the property owner’s regular upkeep efforts. If there are issues that contributed to the slip-and-fall, these records can be pivotal in proving negligence.
Legal Considerations in Atlanta, GA Slip-and-Fall Cases
Atlanta, like many jurisdictions, has specific legal considerations that can impact slip and fall cases. These include premises liability laws, comparative negligence, and Georgia’s statute of limitations. Bear this in mind when collecting evidence. It’s important to understand how these factors can affect your slip-and-fall accident claim.
Comparative negligence in Georgia
The State of Georgia follows a modified comparative negligence rule. This means if the plaintiff is found partially responsible for the slip-and-fall accident, his or her compensation may be reduced. Keeping this in mind can help ensure that you collect enough convincing evidence against the owner.
If an experienced personal injury lawyer determines that the evidence may not be enough to prove negligence, he can help you obtain more to bolster your claim. In some cases, your lawyer may recommend another course of action.
Atlanta, Georgia’s time limit for slip and fall cases
In Georgia, as in all other states, there is a limited timeframe known as the statute of limitations. You must file your slip and fall lawsuit within this timeframe.
Generally, plaintiffs have 2 years from the date of the incident to initiate legal proceedings. Failing to file within this timeframe may result in the dismissal of your case.
Be prompt in gathering evidence after you slip and fall. Late submission of a claim could result in limited time for negotiation, claim dismissal, or loss of damages – which may only weaken your case.
Georgia notice requirements
Notice requirements refer to whether the property owner knew of the hazardous condition. These play a crucial role in determining the property owner’s liability.
This prompt reporting can allow property owners to address the fall hazards and preserve evidence. Property owners can take immediate action to preserve evidence of the slip-and-fall incident and ensure that nothing is either lost or altered.
You can ask our Hoffspiegel Law slip and fall attorneys for guidance on meeting notice requirements and gathering evidence effectively.
Hoffspiegel Law is Ready to Assess Your ATL Slip and Fall Case
Preserving evidence after a personal injury can help you attain maximum compensation. Our personal injury attorneys understand that you deserve to be compensated for your injuries and losses. We only take on a handful of clients to allow us to focus fully on your personal injury claim and recovery.
At Hoffspiegel Law, we offer free consultations to allow you to determine whether we are the right firm to handle your case. If you or someone you love has been involved in an Atlanta slip-and-fall accident, contact our legal warriors at (404) 760-8600 or fill out our contact form.