Q. I fell down stairs in a nightclub and suffered a gash in my leg which required 18 stitches, x-rays & 2 additional doctor visits. I had not been drinking. I was only there to see a friend and had only been in the club about 15-30 minutes. The stairs were clear acrylic with multi-colored lights around the edges. It was very dimly lit inside the club. It happened so fast, I don’t recall if I slipped on something or just missed a step. I don’t recall if there was any type of non-slip edging around the stairs. I made my way outside of the club and sat on the curb and noticed I was bleeding profusely. The person at the door did come to my aid and tried to look for something to bandage the gash. Apparently the club did not keep a first aid kit on hand because the only thing he could find to bandage my leg was a napkin and duct tape. My friends drove me to the hospital. I remember specifically asking about reporting the incident to someone and was told not to worry about it. One of the waitresses laughed and said I would have free access to the club anytime I wanted it. I am not really looking to file a suit against the club. All I am asking is that the club pay the deductibles from what my insurance did not cover (approximately $300.00). I have e-mailed the website link asking someone to contact me but with no response. I intend to write a certified letter to the club also. I would not be opposed to taking legal action against the club for other damages if it is felt that I may have a case. Perhaps having an attorney write a letter would push them to respond?
Q. In order to prevail in a premises liability case like this you need to have evidence of why you fell, and show that the proprietor knew or should have known of a dangerous condition. If you don’t recall whether you slipped on something or just missed a step, that’s not good enough. If you did slip on something, but it was a drink that another patron had just spilled, you still would lose. Of course, that’s not to say that the club’s insurance company wouldn’t pay your deductible, perhaps under a "medical payments" coverage which does not require proof of fault. You may want to notify the club management and ask them to put you in touch with their insurance company with regard to payment of your deductible. There is a two years statute of limitation for personal injury lawsuits in Georgia, so if you were going to file suit (which I do not suggest) you would have to file by the second anniversary of your injury.
Ken Shigley is a trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia who has been listed as a "Super Lawyer" (Atlanta Magazine), among the "Legal Elite" (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale), and is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy,. Mr. Shigley has extensive experience representing parties in trucking and bus accidents, products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, brain injury, spinal cord injury and burn injury cases. Currently he is Secretary of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.