What Happens When Someone Accidentally Slips in a Store and Hurts Themselves?

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:

  1. 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. 
  1. 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.
  1. 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

Suing for Damages In A Slip and Fall Injury Case

If you’ve been injured due to a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, then you may have a right to sue and be compensated for your losses. Unfortunately, slip and fall disputes are rather common in the personal injury context. Many property owners simply do not do enough to maintain a safe premises — this can expose visitors to an unreasonable risk of harm.

Slip and fall disputes can be difficult to understand for first-time plaintiffs, as there are many challenges that are particular to such cases. For plaintiffs, having clarity as to the dispute (and its various issues) is an important initial step when exploring the litigation process.

Let’s explore some basics.

Premises Liability Basics

Slip and fall disputes fall under the umbrella of premises liability claims (i.e., claims linked to personal injury caused by a hazard on someone else’s property).

To successfully recover in a slip and fall dispute, you’ll have to show that:

  • There was a dangerous condition of property (i.e., a hazard);
  • The property owner (or whoever is in control of the property) knew or should have known that there was a hazard;
  • The hazard was not corrected, either through fixing the hazard or creating a signage to warn visitors of the hazard; and
  • You were injured as a result.

Cleanup “Timeliness” In Slip and Fall Disputes

Defendants can only be held liable in a slip and fall case if they knew or should have known that the dangerous hazard existed. However, a defendant cannot simply be ignorant as to the presence of hazards by failing to conduct regular inspections. They are required to conduct inspections with some regularity.

Whether the defendant “knew or should have known” is a difficult question, but ultimately turns on the timeliness of their response to the hazard.

This can be a bit difficult to understand, so let’s consider a brief example.

Suppose that you’re injured in a slip and fall accident at a retail supermarket. You slipped on a puddle of spilled liquid in one of the supermarket aisles. Your attorney investigates the case further and finds that the puddle had been sitting for well over an hour when you slipped and fell, injuring yourself.

Under these circumstances, a court is likely to find that the defendant was negligent, as they should have discovered the hazard by conducting a routine floor inspection. Had the defendant conducted the floor inspection on an hourly basis, they would have discovered the hazard in time (and therefore been able to correct it).

In determining whether the defendant “waited too long” to inspect and correct the hazard, the court will look to the standards typical of the defendant’s industry. In a bar, for example, the standard for floor inspections is likely to be higher (i.e., more frequent floor inspections, perhaps once every 30 minutes) compared to, say, a clothing store.

Was The Slip and Fall Hazard Obvious?

In most jurisdictions, you — the plaintiff — cannot successfully recover damages in a slip and fall injury case where the slip and fall hazard was “obvious” to the plaintiff.

In other words, in situations where the plaintiff could have been expected to avoid the hazard, they cannot sue and recover damages. Blame for the slip and fall injury is thus entirely put on the plaintiff.

There’s no clear, one-size-fits-all standard for whether a slip and fall hazard was obvious or not. Instead, the issue is based on the unique facts of the case. The court will evaluate the facts and determine whether — under the same circumstances — the slip and fall hazard would have been obvious to a reasonable person.

For example, suppose that you are injured in a slip and fall case outside a retail store. One of the entryways into the store was blocked by a pile of scrap material. You cannot physically “miss” the visual of the hazard. Thus, the court is likely to consider it obvious, and if you were to slip and fall and injure yourself due to the scrap material, you would not be entitled to damages.

Contact An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer In Our Network For A Free Consultation

Have you been harmed in a slip and fall injury on someone else’s property?

If so, you may be entitled to sue for damages under the law — but litigating a slip and fall case isn’t necessarily simple. You’ll want to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer for guidance on how best to proceed with your case.

Here at 1-800-THE-LAW2, our team is standing by to connect you to a personal injury lawyer in our network who can handle your case. We are available 24/7, and our in-network attorney consultations are free and confidential, so don’t delay! There’s no downside to calling in for an initial consultation today.

We look forward to speaking with you.