Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyers for Static Defects
Property owners can be liable for injuries caused by slips, trips and falls on their property, when they have failed to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition. Premises liability or slip and fall cases generally fall into two categories - temporary defects and static defects. Temporary defects are hazards which are created by spills, slippery surfaces, items or debris on the floor, and other conditions which are temporary or transitory in nature. Static defects, on the other hand, are more permanent in nature and often exist due to poor design or construction in the first place, or failure to maintain the property over time. Below we look at static defects and the ways in which these types of cases can be more or less difficult for the victim and their Atlanta personal injury attorney to recover compensation from a negligent property owner or business.Types of Static Property Defects
The following are some common examples of static defects which can cause serious injuries from a trip and fall or slip and fall:
- A crack or buckling in the sidewalk
- Uneven steps on stairs
- Steps are too long, too short or too tall
- High curbs
- Steep ramps
- Slippery surfaces without traction or tread
- Uneven heights between curb and pavement
- Potholes or depressions
- Open manholes, grates or drainage culverts
Construction standards exist for appropriate heights for curbs, inclines for ramps, heights and widths of steps, etc. Construction which is not accomplished according to applicable standards may be considered defective for purposes of premises liability law.Property Owner and Victim May Both Be on Notice of Danger
An important element of premises liability cases is proving that the property owner had actual or constructive notice (either knew or should have known) of the dangerous condition, but failed to repair it or warn the public of the danger in a reasonable period of time. One of the difficulties in dealing with injuries caused by a slip and fall due to a spill or slippery surface is proving that the hazardous condition was present for an unreasonable period of time before the accident happened. This difficulty is normally not present in static defect cases. Usually, the defect has been present long enough for the owner to be aware of it and have the opportunity to fix it or warn the public about it.
Although it may not be difficult to prove that the owner had notice of a static defect, this may pose a problem for an injury victim who has been on the premises before, either several times or even just once. The owner may claim that the victim either knew or should have known about the hazard and avoided it. A claimant who knew about a danger but consciously failed to avoid it may have a difficult, but not impossible, time recovering compensation from the property owner.Open and Obvious Defects on Land
Another aspect of static defects is that they are often open and obvious. Even if a person had never been on the property before, a plaintiff who trips on a defect in plain view may have a hard time establishing the defendant's liability. However, it may be that the hazard was concealed in some way by the owner, either temporarily or permanently, by erecting shrubbery, signs or displays that obscured the existence of the danger.
When the victim failed to see the hazard in time, it can be a complicated issue to decide whether the victim was reasonable or unreasonable in not seeing it. For instance, it is reasonable to be aware of your surroundings and watch where you are going, but it is not reasonable to require constant, uninterrupted vigilance at every second. A person can become distracted, and this distraction may itself be reasonable or unreasonable, or even something created by the property owner.
These features of static defect cases often make them complicated and require vigorous argument or complex litigation to sort out in settlement talks or in court. An experienced accident lawyer in Atlanta will have the knowledge and dedication necessary to establish the property owner's liability and recover the full amount of compensation for the injuries caused.Help is Available for Georgia Slip & Fall Premises Liability Claims
If you have been injured in a slip and fall or trip and fall on personal or business property which was defective or negligently-maintained, contact Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall, LLC in Atlanta today at 404-460-0101 for a free consultation.