Slip and Fall in a Retail Store: Time Is of the Essence


May 03, 2011

One of the biggest tragedies in many slip and fall accidents is that people do not act quickly enough in seeking medical treatment or in obtaining competent legal advice. This can result in a significant reduction in the value of a slip and fall accident claim.

Of course, this reduction has nothing to do with your injuries being any less severe. It is merely the result of the delay making it tougher to prove the cause of a victim’s Georgia slip and fall accident or the extent of one’s injuries. For example, you might be browsing in a large commercial chain retail store like Wal-Mart or Target and slip on a puddle in a dimly lit area of the store, causing you to bump your head. You find that you have a goose egg but are able to get up and walk, so you presume that you have not suffered any serious injuries. You continue your shopping and pay for your groceries before driving home.

After a couple of days, you begin to experience headaches, blurred vision and dizziness. You do not have medical insurance so when you go to the doctor you are told that you will have to pay for expensive diagnostic procedures like a MRI or CT Scan. Since you cannot afford the expensive medical procedure, you go home and call the store but are told that the company will not pay for your diagnostic test. When you attempt to explain to the store representative about your slip and fall accident, they indicate that the store investigated and found absolutely no evidence of a foreign substance on the floor. The spill has been cleaned up and was never witnessed by a store employee as far as you know so now you have no persuasive evidence of the cause of your slip and fall accident nor your head injury.

Although retail stores like Wal-Mart and Target have an obligation to take reasonable care to make the premises safe for patrons, many slip and fall accidents in Wal-Mart and other retail stores proceed just like this hypothetical scenario. With more people being unemployed and unable to afford health insurance, it is not uncommon for injury victims to delay seeking medical attention. By the time the person injured in this scenario is able to substantiate any injuries, the victim will face challenges both in proving the cause of the injury because the liquid has been cleaned up and proving the seriousness of any injuries. The slip and fall victim may also face difficulties in clearly establishing a causal link between any injuries and the slip and fall accident in the retail store.

Under Georgia law, premises liability law covers slip and fall accidents of this nature. In broad terms, Georgia law provides that the business has a responsibility to its patrons to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition. The critical issues in determining whether Wal-Mart or another store has liability for such an accident will be whether a store employee knew or should have known of the substance. If store employees were unaware of the substance’s presence on the floor, it will be critical to determine whether the store should have been aware of the spill and have cleaned it up with proper maintenance practices. Our experienced Atlanta slip and fall attorneys carefully analyze other evidence, like store surveillance video, in such situations to determine how long the foreign substance was on the floor.

The point is that many serious slip and fall accidents in retail stores do not result in fair compensation for the accident victim. The mere delay in obtaining a medical evaluation or treatment and reporting and documenting the hazard that caused the accident can determine the outcome of a slip and fall case. If you are involved in a slip and fall incident in Wal-Mart, Target or any other commercial retail store, you should immediately report the accident. It is also a good idea to use your cell phone to take pictures of any substance on the ground and get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. If an accident report is prepared, you should obtain a copy. You should also promptly contact our experienced Atlanta slip and fall attorneys who may be able to help guide you with respect to actions that need to be taken to preserve your rights and medical treatment.

Montlick and Associates is available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.