When a customer slips, trips, or falls and gets an injury in a parking lot or store, there is a potential legal claim. Under the law, that injured shopper may be entitled to sue and recover significant damages.
But how does a personal injury claim work? Let’s take a closer look.
Is a Store Liable for a Customer Injury?
Store Liability for a Slip and Fall Accident
Property owners and proprietors, or store operators like landlords, have a legal responsibility to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition for patrons. If the establishment is unsafe in any way and contributes to you getting hurt, then you have a right to sue and recover damages for injuries. One example of this is a slip and fall injury from a wet floor in a grocery store.
The right to sue and recover after an accident applies in every jurisdiction in the United States. Though state laws may vary somewhat, the fundamental principles of slip and fall cases are the same.
Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents That Could Also Be Examples of Store Negligence
Slip and fall accidents happen due to a variety of factors, including:
- Liquid spills with no sign warning, like wet floors
- Traction less, smooth flooring
- Defective flooring, like broken tiles and so forth
- Failure to install railings
- And more
Such conditions can significantly increase the risk of bodily injury or personal injury due to a slip and fall. If you encounter any of these, the store owner or property operator may be at fault for failing to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition, also known as premises liability.
When Is a Business Liable for the Harm of a Customer?
Awareness of the Safety Issue
In slip and fall cases, the company or store owner may try to avoid premises liability and argue that they were unaware of the slip and fall hazard. In other words, they could argue that they had no reason to believe that there was any danger.
Your attorney can counter this defense argument by showing that the defendant either “was” actually aware, or “should have been” aware of the hazard. Property owners and property operators, for example, a landlord, have a responsibility to conduct regular inspections of the premises. In doing so, they discover that there is a hazard. Once they discover the hazard, they can either fix it, or put up a warning sign to prevent shoppers from getting injured.
The frequency of inspection varies from store to store, depending on the industry. For example, a grocery store has to be inspected more frequently than a furniture department store. Failure to inspect frequently enough to discover the hazard before a visitor is harmed can give rise to liability, and it’s also negligence.
What Are the Elements of Vicarious Liability?
Suppose that one of the store employees failed to conduct a proper inspection, and that’s why the floor was wet and wasn’t cleaned. In turn, the spill caused you to slip and fall and you hurt yourself.
In this example, the employee is technically at-fault, because they committed negligence. However, the store can also be held liable, due to vicarious liability.
Thanks to vicarious liability law, an injured plaintiff can sue an employer for the negligence of their employee. In the case of the wet floor, the employee was negligent in inspecting the premises. Though it isn’t technically the store’s fault that you slipped and fell, they can be held legally responsible for your injuries and the negligence of their worker.
What Happens If You Hurt Yourself in a Store?
What To Do If You Are Injured in a Store
After a slip and fall accident, you may be confused about what to do next. Don’t worry; it’s actually quite simple. Here are the steps to take after an accident:
- Contact an experienced slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible. They will first evaluate your case. If it makes sense to move forward, they will work with you to gather evidence, develop an argument, and push for a positive resolution, like compensation.
- Gather and preserve evidence. If possible, take photos of the accident scene, and keep copies of all documentation that is associated with the accident. An example of this is a police report.
- Avoid negotiating a settlement with the store or its insurance company without the help of an attorney. They will attempt to undercut your claim and minimize their overall damages.
Can You Sue a Store for Injuries Caused by a Slip, Trip or Fall?
If you’ve been injured in a slip, trip, or fall accident, then you could be entitled to significant damages as compensation. At times, the law is confusing and overwhelming, and this is especially true for first time plaintiffs who have no experience of the litigation process. We’re here to help.
Call 1-800-THE-LAW2 for a Free Consultation and to Speak With a Qualified Slip and Fall Attorney Near You.
Call 1-800-THE-LAW2 for a free consultation with an experienced slip and fall accident attorney in our network. There’s no cost, and no commitment. If you decide that you’d rather not move forward with your case, that’s ok! So get in touch today and we’ll connect you in just 10 minutes or less.