Georgia Court Allows Parking Lot Slip-and-Fall Case to Proceed to Trial

In May 2019, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia slip-and-fall case discussing whether the lower court was correct to dismiss the plaintiff’s case against the defendant grocery store. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient to survive the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, and thus, should have been permitted to proceed to trial.

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff finished shopping at the defendant grocery store and was returning the shopping cart to the corral. After leaving the cart, the plaintiff tripped and fell on the crossbar of the corral. Evidently, the crossbar was elevated a little over an inch off the ground because the corral had previously been hit by a delivery truck.

The grocery store acknowledged that it knew of the raised crossbar, and claimed that it had called for it to be fixed. The grocery store argued that the raised crossbar was clearly visible and that the plaintiff should have exercised caution to avoid the hazard. The lower court agreed that the hazard was open and obvious, dismissing the plaintiff’s case. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s decision and allowed the plaintiff’s case to proceed towards trial. The court explained that, in a Georgia premises liability lawsuit, the plaintiff must establish “(1) the premises owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard; and (2) the plaintiff lacked knowledge of the hazard, despite her exercise of ordinary care, due to actions or conditions within the owner’s control.”

Here, the court noted that the defendant acknowledged it had knowledge of the hazard, so the focus was on the second element. The defendant argued that the plaintiff saw that the corral was damaged, and heard the cart’s wheels go over the crossbar, and that she should have been on notice that the crossbar was slightly raised.

The court disagreed, explaining that the real question was not whether the plaintiff should have known about the presence of the crossbar, but whether she had knowledge of the danger it presented. The court also rejected the defendant’s argument that the fact that the plaintiff successfully negotiated the crossbar on the way into the corral meant that she recognized its danger. The court explained that only a portion of the crossbar was raised, and it was possible that the plaintiff entered through an area that was not raised.

For these reasons, the court reasoned that there was a factual issue regarding whether the plaintiff’s role in her fall should prelude her ability to recover for her injuries. That being the case, the court held that the lower court improperly dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

Consult with a Dedicated Georgia Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has recently suffered a serious injury after a trip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Georgia slip-and-fall lawsuit. At McAleer Law, we represent injury victims in all types of Georgia injury cases, including slip-and-fall cases. We have decades of collective experience helping accident victims obtain the compensation they deserve. To speak with a dedicated personal injury attorney about your case, call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free, no-risk consultation today. Because we work on a contingent-fee model, we will not receive any payment for our services unless we can help you recover for your injuries.

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