July 24, 2012
It happens all the time: A customer enters a store, hits a slippery spot, and takes a tumble. Some falls are minor, but many others result in serious injuries that lead to significant medical bills, lost work, rehabilitation, and considerable pain and suffering. Those hurt in this and similar ways often wonder if they have a legal claim to seek compensation for their losses.
In many cases the answer is “Yes.”
Slip and Fall Accidents
Most accidents in supermarkets, clothing stores, and other retail spaces are of the “slip and fall” variety. Potential legal accountability following these accidents is guided by an area of law known as “premise liability.” This refers to rules about what the owners and operators of a building are required to do to keep those on the property safe and secure. In general, owners must take “reasonable” steps to ensure the premises are safe for customers. When they fail to meet that duty, they can be held liable for the harm that results.
Negligent Store Owners
A personal injury lawyer can explain how negligence might be proven in your individual case. Many different factors may be involved depending on the exact way that you were hurt while in the store. Some of the most common examples of negligence include:
• Wet floors: When floors are mopped, customers should be warned that the space is slippery and presents a hazard. “Caution Wet Floor” signs should be used. Similarly, if there is a spill on the floor, the business must quickly clean the location to prevent unsuspecting customers from getting hurt.
• Insecure Shelving: Store shelves and items on the shelves should never fall onto a customer. Businesses must ensure shelves will not tip and that merchandise on the shelves does not tumble down.
• Rough floors/walkways: Uneven sidewalks, potholes, large entrance drops, loose rugs, and other hazards on the premises might present unreasonable dangers to those coming to the business. It is important for these establishments to take reasonable steps to eliminate these fall and injury risks.
Proving the Negligence
Any time that you are hurt while on business property you may be able to recover for your losses. A legal professional can explain the various parties who could be held liable for the harm suffered, including the store owner, a property manager, parent companies, and sometimes vendors or contractors working within the establishment.
In a potential legal case following the accident, it will be important to collect evidence that can help prove negligence on the part of the owner or operator. Evidence in these cases often includes pictures of the area where the accident took place or surveillance video footage of the actual fall. Statements from witnesses who saw the fall or the state of the store at the time of the incident are crucial. In addition, employee statements can be pivotal. For example, if a floor was wet, potential liability may hinge on whether or not an employee was near the area and saw it or had the chance to correct the problem.
Get Legal Help
No two cases are identical. At the end of the day, if you are hurt in any way while at a store, be sure to get in touch with a legal professional as soon as possible to share your story. The injury lawyer can explain how the law might apply, collect necessary evidence, and work on your behalf to ensure a timely, fair resolution to the legal matter.