We are right in the middle of hurricane season for the southeast. It runs from June 1st through November 30th with the height of hurricane activity being from mid-August to mid-October. As Georgians know, a hurricane or tropical storm does not have to directly hit us for us to feel its affects – just look outside. With hurricane season comes rain and with rain comes the potential for slip and falls.
We all know that in order to recover for injuries from a slip-and-fall, a person must prove (1) that the owner/occupier had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard; and (2) that the plaintiff lacked knowledge of the hazard despite the exercise of ordinary care due to actions or conditions within the control of the owner/occupier.
The first question asked is whether the plaintiff was exposed to a hazard. Stores are not liable to customers who slip and fall on floors made wet by rain conditions unless there has been an unusual accumulation of water and there were no reasonable inspection/cleaning procedures. This is because it is common knowledge that some water would be present where shoppers enter and exit a store during rainy weather. In rainy day slip-and-fall cases plaintiffs are charged with equal knowledge that water is apt to be found in any area frequented by people coming in from the rain outside. The store is not under a duty to staff extra moppers to wipe up the rain as fast as it blows in.
Here are four practice pointers to help avoid a rainy-day slip and fall or provide you with the best defenses should one occur.
1) maintain reasonable inspection procedures of areas rainwater is likely to be tracked in to ensure there is no unusual accumulation of water
2) although a wet floor sign is not required under Georgia law, best practices are to have one out when it is raining
3) should an incident occur, maintain any surveillance footage that would have capture the incident for at least the hour before the incident and hour after.
4) take photographs from different angles to capture how the scene looked at the time of the incident.