Personal injury is the wrongful injury of one person caused by the fault of another. A Georgia personal injury claim can seek compensation for lost wages, medical expenses and potentially punitive damages to punish the offender. Clayton County personal injury attorney Shane Smith answers general questions about Georgia personal injury law:
- When does someone have a personal injury claim?
In order to have a personal injury case someone must have either a physical or an emotional injury. A victim must be able to show that someone else (the defendant) is at fault for the injury using a negligence, strict liability or intentional misconduct theory. In some cases a victim must show that the other party or parties is predominantly at fault for the injury (carrying over half of the liability for the accident and injuries).
- What is strict liability?
Strict liability is the legal responsibility for damages or injury even if the person found strictly liable was not at fault or negligent. Strict liability has been applied in product liability cases and when animals (pets) cause damage or injuries to another person or to their property.
- What is intentional misconduct?
Intentional misconduct refers to conscious or willful disregard of the rights and safety of another. It means conduct by a person with knowledge at the time of the conduct that the conduct is harmful to the health or wellbeing of another person. It includes battery (an intentional act causing harmful or offensive contact with another), false imprisonment (wrongful detention) and intentional infliction of emotional distress (outrageous behavior resulting in severe emotional distress).
- What is a slip-and-fall accident?
There are four general types of "fall down" accidents:
- Slip-and-fall accidents—A foreign substance causes a shoe to slide on a floor resulting in an injury.
- Trip-and-fall accidents—A foreign object obstructs an area used for walking.
- Step-and-fall accidents—A hole or uneven surface causes someone to lose their balance and fall.
- Stump-and-fall accidents—A permanent obstruction in the walking surface causes someone to fall.
- Who is responsible for a slip-and-fall accident?
Both a property owner and the injured victim may be responsible for an injury to some degree. The property owner has a duty of care to anyone visiting his property. Those who visit a property must use the care that a reasonably prudent person would under similar circumstances. Someone visiting another person's property may need to show more care in hazardous conditions. Either or both of these duties may be breached leading to an accident and injuries.
- What is a hazardous condition?
A hazardous condition is one where an injury may occur. These may be permanent, as in the case of broken stairs, or temporary, such as when water is on the floor. Property owners are responsible for warning patrons about permanent hazardous conditions and remedying them. Property owners may not be responsible for injuries sustained in temporary hazardous conditions if they were not made aware of the problem. Proving liability in temporary hazardous conditions requires evidence that the owner had knowledge of the temporary condition and did not warn visitors or correct the problem as a reasonably prudent person would in the same situation.
- What procedure should be followed after a slip-and-fall accident?
An accident report should be filed at the time of the incident though this is more of a store or business policy than a legal requirement. An accident report documents details of the incident, the time it occurred, names and contact information for witnesses and relevant accident information such as lighting, warning signs and floor conditions. This information can be compiled by the victim if the store does not make an accident report. The victim can also document comments made by those who witnessed the accident or assisted (including relevant information about when someone saw a hazard, if it was previously reported to management or if store officials put a warning sign out after the incident occurred). Photos can also be taken to document the incident scene. Injuries should be treated by medical professionals; this provides additional documentation to substantiate injury claims.
- What kinds of compensation can be pursued in a slip-and-fall accident?
Slip-and-fall accidents can include recovery for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Potential future medical expenses, therapy or rehabilitation
- Loss of earnings or future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
An experienced Clayton County personal injury attorney will pursue a case to get fair compensation for the victim. Call the Law Office of Shane Smith at 770-487-8999 to schedule a free legal consultation.