Slip and fall accidents in retail stores are covered under premises liability law. This law aims to hold shop owners responsible for ensuring that their property is well maintained and kept safe for visitors. Grocery store shoppers and general consumers have the right to expect safe conditions when they walk down different aisles in a particular store without worrying about getting injured.
Millions of people experience falls in the United States every year, with a majority of injuries occurring in people above the age of 65. Statistics reveal that one in five falls triggers serious problems like broken bones or head injuries. According to the CDC, more than 800,000 patients are hospitalized every year because of an injury from a fall. People slip and fall in a myriad of environments that include:
- Government properties
- Schools and colleges
- Residential properties
- Public places like roads and sidewalks
- Retail or wholesale stores
Slip And Fall Risks In Retail Stores
Employees and customers are at risk of slipping and falling in retail stores based on the environment. In some instances, it may simply be because you were not looking and walking. However, in other instances, it could be because of negligence on the part of retail shop owners. For instance, a newly waxed or cleaned floor can present greater risks of slip and fall injuries without any warning signs put up. Similarly, stacked boxes in walkways and aisles can trigger slip and fall injuries.
If you have experienced a slip and fall in a retail store, it’s imperative that you assess your personal situation because you may be able to file a civil lawsuit if you feel that the store owner or management was negligent. When slip and fall accidents occur at grocery or department stores, you may potentially have a valid claim because these businesses have a legal duty to keep customers reasonably safe. If an injured party can show that the accident occurred because of unsafe conditions, the store is responsible for compensating the customer based on specific facts of the injury.
Common Reasons Why People Slip And Fall In Retail Stores
Injuries caused because of slip and fall accidents can happen for a plethora of reasons. Below are some of the reasons why people can slip and fall in a retail store:
- Snow or ice accumulating on entryways
- Overturned floor mats
- Newly mopped or wet floors
- Recently waxed floors
- Stacked boxes in aisles or walkways
- Falling items in the pathway of customers
- Poor lighting in aisles and walkways
- Spilled drinks or coffee causing puddles in walkways
If there is enough evidence gathered that shows the store neglected to take proper action to rectify this potential problem, then the store owner can be held liable for a person’s slip and fall accident. The amount that the store owner is liable for will depend on the extent of the injury, the medical expenses and the recovery period of the injured party.
Notable Store Slip And Fall Cases Across The United States
In 2009, Monika Leiterman slipped on a liquid soap puddle in an Industry Costco store and shattered her kneecap. Her claim was based on the fact that several employees of the store passed the puddle and neglected to rectify the issue. She was given over $414,000 and $89,000 for her medical expenses. She was also awarded $325,000 for past and future suffering and pain.
In 2011, Bernice Baynes sued Home Depot after slipping on some unknown substance in their store in Pennsylvania. According to her, the company failed to remove a slippery element from the floor. The court ruled in her favor and awarded her damage compensation to the tune of $44,383.61. In another case against Home Depot (and far more sensational), Heather Hartner, who fell and hurt her knee was surprisingly awarded $1 million through a jury verdict in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.
In a landmark case, Wal-Mart was ordered to pay $15 million to a Cheyenne truck driver who suffered from massive spinal injuries after delivering frozen food to a store. According to the claim, Holly Averyt slipped and fell on grease and ice in 2007 while she was delivering food to a Wal-Mart store.
A premises liability case against Target in Harvey saw the plaintiff Stephanie Myles suing for her slip and fall accident because of liquid on the floor near the jewelry case. The amount of her claim has not been specified. According to her, the company was negligent because it failed to put warning signs and clean up the spill, which put customers at unnecessary risks.
Steps To Take After A Retail Store Fall
Experiencing a slip and fall accident can be a source of incredible pain. You may be able to claim negligence if you think that the store owner or employees were at fault. If you have experienced a slip and fall accident in a retail store, you should follow these actionable steps:
Document As Much As Possible Of The Accident
You must document as much as possible of the accident to strengthen your claim in court.
- If possible, take a picture of the spill or situation that caused the slip and fall accident
- When you go to the doctor, get a medical report detailing the extent of the injuries
- Write down exactly what happened immediately after, so that you don’t forget important elements of your injury
- Take note of the time and place of the injury
- Get eyewitnesses and video records if possible to detail what happened
Keep in mind that the more documents you have, the stronger your claim against the store or store owner will be. While your injury naturally takes precedence, your presence of mind at the accident scene can help you make a stronger claim against the retail store. Record as much as possible to equip yourself with sufficient proof.
Know Who You Are Planning To Sue
In some instances, you will be suing the store owner in the case of an individually owned store. In other instances, you will probably be suing a major chain or retail department store. There are also instances where you may end up suing a landlord or property owner based on your particular slip and fall situation.
Make Sure You Have Enough Proof To Claim Negligence
A retail store is only liable for injuries due to slip and fall accidents when it occurs on their property and the injured party can prove a case of negligence against them. Keep in mind that simply falling is not grounds for a lawsuit. An unsafe condition must exist and you must be able to prove that the business knew about the dangerous situation without taking any action because this is negligence. A store may also be held liable if it knew about the dangerous situation and took no action to rectify it. For example, if a customer spills coffee in a walkway and another customer falls, the store is liable for any injury that occurs. But the injured person must be able to prove that the store knew about the unsafe condition. The injured party should be able to prove that the spill existed long enough to be conscious of its existence without taking any remedial action to clean it up.
Filing a slip and fall lawsuit against a retail store owner or management is complex because you must be able to prove negligence for you to have any chance of winning. Make sure you have sufficient proof to back up your slip and fall injury claim when filing a case in the court of law.