According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slip and fall injuries account for nearly one million of all annual emergency room visits, representing 12 percent of all fall-related injuries, which are actually the leading cause of emergency room visits overall. In an environment like Costco, with its cement flooring, heavily stocked aisles, and food samples at every turn, there is the potential for a trip or slip and fall accidents—even while taking a leisurely stroll from aisle to aisle.
Under Georgia’s laws of negligence, a store like Costco is required to keep its public areas safe and free from hazards—or it could face significant liability in the event a trip or slip and fall occurs. For advice and guidance on filing a personal injury claim against Costco, contact The Champion Firm, P.C., in Atlanta as soon as possible following your injury – we are happy to help!
Premises Liability in Georgia
Premises liability is a legal term referring to the liability imposed upon shopkeepers and property owners in the event a guest suffers injuries. Under the language of the applicable statute, property owners and managers must keep the premises and its approaches reasonably safe and must exercise “ordinary care” in so doing.
Of course, the definitions of “reasonably safe” and “ordinary care” will depend upon the unique circumstances surrounding the incident in question. In general, this standard imposes a duty to keep the premises clear of known hazards or any hazards that could have been uncovered following a reasonable inspection.
Sample Costco Cases
When it comes to a large warehouse-type retailer like Costco, reasonable safety will—at a minimum—mandate that employees keep aisles clear of debris, promptly clean spills, and keep overhead inventory properly stored and secured. The following are several real-life cases involving Costco, which will help illustrate the nature of premises liability claims involving this type of retailer:
- In 2012, a California jury awarded a woman over $400,000 after she fell on a foreign substance in the public area of the food court, fracturing her patella and requiring surgery.
- In 2014, a New York court awarded a woman $9.9 million after suffering a permanent injury to her arm and spine. In this case, an employee attempted to load her cart onto a cart escalator, when the cart suddenly careened backwards, pinning the woman.
- In 2015, an Illinois man received $125,000 after suing Costco for negligently failing to warn customers that it had recently painted the curb with high-gloss paint, causing him to fall and fracture his orbital bone.
Commencing a Slip and Fall Lawsuit in Georgia
For the injured plaintiff, the journey to financial recovery begins by filing a personal injury lawsuit. After filing the initial pleadings, both parties will engage in depositions and the mutual exchange of documents relating to the case—a process known as the “discovery phase.”
From there, Costco may offer a sum of money in order to settle the case, which the plaintiff is free to accept or reject. Should the case proceed to a trial, the injured plaintiff would bear the burden of proving that the store failed to maintain reasonably safe conditions, which led to the plaintiff’s fall and subsequent physical injuries. The retailer may also offer several defenses to the personal injury claims, which a premises liability attorney at The Champion Firm, P.C,. can help combat and defeat.