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When can a restaurant be liable for slip-and-fall accidents?

Whether it is a quick stop at your favorite fast-food restaurant during your lunch break, or a more leisurely dinner spent at one of Georgia's finest eating establishments, most restaurant patrons expect delicious food and good service. What they may not expect is that they could be seriously injured in a restaurant, due to a slip-and-fall accident. Such accidents can leave a person seriously injured, causing the person to incur hefty medical bills, experience tremendous pain and suffering, and miss out on lost wages. When this happens, a person may wonder if they can pursue a premises liability lawsuit against the restaurant.

Determining fault in restaurant premises liability cases is not as straightforward as it may seem. In order to be held liable for a slip-and-fall accident, in general the restaurant (or an employee of the restaurant) must meet one of three scenarios. One is that the restaurant actually caused the surface to become dangerous. Alternatively, the restaurant must have had the knowledge that the surface presented a danger, but failed to act to remedy it. Or, the restuarant should have had the knowledge that the surface presented a danger, since a "reasonable" individual would have known of the condition and taken the necessary steps to fix it.

In general, the third scenario is the one most likely to be argued. However, it is foggier than the other two scenarios, as it hinges on the terms "should have known," which point to the somewhat subjective determination of what can be considered common sense.

In the end, if a person is injured in a slip-and-fall accident at a restaurant, he or she may want to consider speaking to an attorney. An attorney can assess the facts of the person's case, in order to determine whether or not filing a premises liability lawsuit against the restaurant would be appropriate.

Source: FindLaw, "Slip and Fall Accidents Overview," accessed March 30, 2017

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