Court Discusses Grocery Store’s Potential Liability in Recent Georgia Slip-and-Fall Case

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a decision in a Georgia premises liability case that arose out of a slip-and-fall accident that took place inside the defendant grocery store. The court was presented with the question as to whether the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence that the defendant grocery store was aware of the hazard or should have been aware of the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s fall.

According to the court’s written opinion, while the plaintiff was shopping at the defendant grocery store, he slipped in a puddle of liquid and fell to the ground. The plaintiff claimed that he did not see the puddle before stepping in it. As a result of the slip-and-fall accident, the plaintiff injured his shoulder and head, and later filed a premises liability lawsuit against the grocery store.

At trial, surveillance video was presented, showing a store employee walking by the area of the spill moments before the plaintiff’s fall. The employee did not stop to clean up the spill and by all indications did not see the spill. The defense also presented evidence of the store’s safety inspection plan. Apparently, store employees were responsible for sweeping and mopping the floors four times a day. Before beginning these routine sweeps, the employee was to input a code into the store’s computer system, logging in the sweep.

When comparing the store’s sweep log to the surveillance video, the court noted that the employee who was supposed to be conducting the sweep was actually helping out at the cash register. The bathroom-cleaning log also indicated that this employee had cleaned the bathroom during the sweep.

The Court’s Decision

The court concluded that the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient to show that the grocery store knew of the hazard. The court explained that, as a general rule, the plaintiff in a Georgia slip-and-fall accident must show 1.) that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard, and 2.) that the plaintiff lacked knowledge of the hazard despite having exercised reasonable care.

The court began its analysis by explaining that a retail store can rely on a properly executed routine maintenance plan to show that store management did not have knowledge of a hazard. The theory being that as long as a store carries out its maintenance plan, it should be made aware of all hazards within a reasonable amount of time. Thus, if a maintenance plan is carried out and no hazards are located, the hazard must have occurred after the most recent maintenance sweep. However, the court explained that in this case, the grocery store could not rely on its safety inspection plan because there was conflicting evidence that it was followed. Thus, the court held that the plaintiff’s case was sufficient as a matter of law.

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

If you or someone you care about has recently been injured in a Georgia slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a Georgia premises liability lawsuit. At McAleer law, we have assembled a team of dedicated Georgia personal injury lawyers to assist our clients in bringing claims against those who are responsible for their injuries. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you have sustained, call 404-622-5337 to schedule your free consultation today.