Georgia Appellate Courts Uphold $2.6 Million Slip and Fall Verdict against Kroger
Premises liability claims based on falls caused by hazardous conditions that cause someone to trip and fall or slip and fall can pose challenges when attempting to seek financial compensation. While many falls are caused by foreign substances on the floor like pooled water from an air conditioning unit or a beverage container that spills, they will not always create a basis for imposing liability on the store, restaurant, bar or other commercial business where a fall occurs. Our state's highest court has identified two necessary elements that must be established to make out a premises liability claim in a fall based on slipping or tripping:
1) Actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard by the defendant;
2) The injury victim did not possess knowledge of the hazardous condition despite the exercise of reasonable care because of the actions of the defendant or conditions under the control of the defendant.
The constructive knowledge of the owner of the premises can often be one of the most complicated issues in a slip and fall accident. A recent Georgia Appellate Court case Kroger Company v. Schoenhoof which upheld a $2.6 million verdict provides an example of what is required to establish constructive knowledge in a slip and fall accident in a business establishment.
A married couple filed a personal injury and loss of consortium claim based on injuries suffered by the wife when she slipped on a clear liquid on the floor of the flower department of the grocery store that was later determined to be water. The wife indicated she was paying attention as she walked through the store but did not notice the transparent liquid until she slipped and fell on the floor. Because there was no evidence Kroger had actual knowledge of the hazardous condition, liability turned on whether constructive knowledge of the hazardous condition could be imputed to Kroger.
The appellate court found that there was sufficient evidence to establish constructive knowledge because water leakage on the floor of the floral department was an ongoing problem that store employees knew had occurred in the past. Floor mats had even been placed over the area to prevent the accumulation of puddled water on other days, but this measure was not implemented the day of the slip and fall accident. The employees also did not conduct any store sweeps to inspect for potential spills that day.
If you or a family member is injured in a slip and fall or trip and fall accident in a local business like a supermarket, café, fast food restaurant, bar or other commercial establishment in Georgia, you may have the right to financial compensation for your injuries. These cases can turn on subtle facts like these so it is important to seek legal advice from an experienced Atlanta slip and fall accident attorney.
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