Your slip and fall claim might follow different rules depending on where you live. In this article, we'll examine some key Georgia laws related to slip and fall accidents. We'll look at the time limits for filing a slip and fall lawsuit in Georgia, as well as what happens if you are partially responsible for your slip and fall accident. We'll also briefly discuss slip and fall claims against government entities, since these are often governed by special rules. (For more discussion of what to expect in a slip and fall case, check out all of the articles in our Slip and Fall section.)
In Georgia, you have 2 years from the date of your slip and fall accident to file a case in court against the property owner or whoever might be to blame for the incident. This two-year "clock" includes weekends and holidays. If you do not file your court case by the end of the two years, your case may be barred from court automatically.
It's important to note that this time limit does not apply to claims you may file with an insurance company (such as the property owner's carrier). Nevertheless, it's helpful to file your insurance claim as quickly as possible after an accident. If you wait too long and the claims process drags out, your two-year window of opportunity for filing a lawsuit may close, which prevents you from going to court if settlement negotiations stall or fail. Besides that, getting the claims process started within a "reasonable time" may be required by the insurance company, who may try to deny your claim if they think you waited too long.
Each state sets its own rules for deciding how a case is affected if an injured person who files an insurance claim or lawsuit is also partly at fault for causing the accident. In Georgia, a "modified comparative negligence" rule is applied. This rule reduces or eliminates damages if the claimant or plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for the slip and fall accident.
Here's an example of how the modified comparative fault rule works. Suppose that you suffer a slip and fall accident in a grocery store, and you decide to file an insurance claim or take your case to court. After investigating the claim or considering all the evidence in a lawsuit, the insurance adjuster or jury decides that your total damages -- lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses from the slip and fall accident -- equal $10,000. However, the adjuster or jury also decides that you were 20 percent at fault for the accident (maybe there was an orange cone next to a spill on the floor) and the store owner was 80 percent at fault.
How does this affect your insurance settlement or jury award? Georgia's modified comparative fault rule requires that an amount equal to the percentage of your fault be subtracted from your settlement or award, leaving you with the reduced amount. In the example above, the rule would apply to subtract $2,000 -- representing the 20 percent of your fault -- from your $10,000 total settlement or award, leaving you with $8,000.
Keep in mind that, because Georgia is a "modified" comparative fault state, your damages award drops to zero if you are found to be 50 percent at fault or more. In this situation, you can't collect anything at all from any other at-fault party in a slip and fall case
If a government agency or employee played a role in your Georgia slip and fall accident, a different set of rules applies. For instance, suppose that you tripped on a broken staircase in a government building. In this case, the Georgia state government (and most city and county governments) require you to follow a strict claim-filing procedure if you want compensation for medical bills and other losses caused by the slip and fall.
In Georgia, most claims seeking compensation for injury, when a state or local government or one of its employees might be responsible, must be filed with the Risk Management Division of the Georgia Department of Administrative Services within one year (twelve months) from the date of the accident. This deadline applies to claims against both the state and any local government within Georgia, like a city or county government.
More information about filing a slip and fall injury claim against the Georgia government is available online from the Risk Management Division website.