A plaintiff who was injured in a trip and fall incident has convinced the Georgia Court of Appeals to reverse the trial court’s grant of the defendant’s motion for summary judgment which would have spelled an end to her case. In this case, the plaintiff tripped over an extension cord that had been in place under a rug at her place of employment. It was not disputed that the plaintiff had been warned that renovations were underway in her office and employees had been warned, in general, to use caution.
The Court of Appeals rightly held that since there was no evidence that at the time of her fall the plaintiff was aware of the specific hazard that caused her to fall — namely a cord that was hidden under a floor mat — that a jury question remained about whether the plaintiff exercised due care for her own safety. In cases such as this, there must be evidence that the plaintiff was previously aware of a specific hazard and it was that hazard that led to injury in order for the court to grant a motion for summary judgement. Premises liability cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute because there is hardly ever a case of “clear liability”. The premises owner will always be able to argue that either it was unaware of any hazard despite taking reasonable steps to make its premises safe or that the plaintiff herself failed to exercise due care for her own safety. In this case, since the contractor clearly created a potential hazard, it could not argue that it was unaware of a hazard. Instead, the contractor focused on the plaintiff’s knowledge to argue that she had equal or superior knowledge of a hazard which would entitle the defendant to summary judgment.
If you have been injured on a business premises you owe it to yourself to have a premises injury attorney evaluate the facts of your case.