slip and fall accidents

The Store’s Liability if You Slip and Fall

04/28/2020
By Logan Quirk

Customers don’t expect to be in any danger whenever they enter a business establishment, but accidents can still happen. Slip and fall accidents are among the dangers that customers need to guard against.

Of course, it’s not only customers that need to guard against potential slipping accidents. The customer can hold the business owners liable for them slipping and sustaining an injury while on their property.

Slip and fall cases can be tricky to figure out, but it’s in your best interest as a customer to understand if you can receive compensation. Business owners should understand more about the intricacies of the mentioned cases so they can respond better to threats of lawsuits.

Find out more about the complexity of slip and fall cases by reading on.

How Does a Slip and Fall Case Affect the Customer and the Business?

To get things started, let’s take a closer look at how slip and fall cases impact both the customers and the business owners.

For a customer involved in this type of accident, a potential injury must be their foremost concern.  If you slip and fall on a property’s snow-covered entryway, you could receive a bruised tailbone or a more serious injury. A fall from going up stairs could cause broken bones.

Business owners will need to worry about potential payouts if they are responsible for the fall.  Depending on what caused the accident, some businesses may close until they are safe to host employees and customers again.

A company’s reputation may also take a huge hit following reports that a customer was involved in an accident on their property.

wet spot

When Do You Have a Slip and Fall Case?

It’s important to note that the law won’t consider all accidents on a company’s property a slip and fall case. It must meet certain conditions before they classify a specific case as such.

Slip and fall cases often happen because the owner or caretaker of the business establishment did not do enough to create a safe environment. You can regard their negligence as a key contributor to your injury.

Let’s examine the different ways in which negligence on the part of the business owner can be the reason you can move forward with a lawsuit.

The Business Establishment Was Not Properly Maintained

When you enter a store, a restaurant, or any other business establishment, it’s perfectly reasonable for you to expect that you are walking inside a safe environment. You shouldn’t have to keep an eye out for potential hazards because the expectation is that the caretakers of the establishment have addressed them before opening.

That is not always the case, however.

Business owners don’t always do a great job of maintaining their property, and that can sometimes lead to accidents.

Some broken floor panels may be jutting out, and if you don’t notice them in time, you may trip over them and fall. Other establishments may have floors that are not completely even and catch you off guard with a sudden drop, thus leading you to sprain an ankle.

Stairways can also be dangerous if some of the steps are giving way too easily.

It’s not unreasonable to expect a business owner to keep those elements of his/her establishment well-maintained. If they aren’t, and they cause you trouble, you could have a strong case for compensation.

The Business Establishment Does Not Have Adequate Safety Features

A business establishment can also pose a danger to both customers and the workers occupying it at any given time if it lacks certain safety features.

Establishments that lack adequate lighting or guardrails for stairs can be dangerous to navigate. Employees and customers could tumble down staircases because they cannot see where they are going, and they don’t have anything to hold on to.

It’s not too much to ask that business owners take care of these matters, so you can consider it negligence on their part if they fail to install such basic safety features. That display of negligence means your lawsuit has a good chance of winning.

The Business Establishment Did Not Provide a Warning

Have you ever wondered why supermarkets and restaurants put up those yellow markers after cleaning their floors? Obviously, those markers are to warn people about slipping, but they do more than that. Business establishments also use those markers as added protection against a possible lawsuit.

As a customer, you’ll be hard-pressed to claim that you didn’t know a portion of the floor was slippery if there’s a big, bright sign pointing it out.

Customers won’t always win their case even if they slipped on a wet spot that remained accessible. The business owner can claim they were unaware of the spillage before you slipped, or they did not have enough time to address the mess.

That protection is in place so that businesses cannot be held liable if customers intentionally spill their drinks and slip on them.

What Are the Reasons Why a Slip and Fall Lawsuit May Fail?

If you can prove in court that a business owner did not ensure that their establishment is in the right condition to host customers and employees, the odds of your lawsuit winning rise significantly.

So, what then are the reasons why your claim may fail?

First off, they may not deem your lawsuit legitimate if they discover that you were the one who caused the accident. What this means is that you cannot claim that the owner of the establishment was negligent if you were the one who spilled water on the floor and ran over it until you slipped and subsequently got injured.

The jury and judge will also consider why you were on the business owner’s property in the first place.

If you are a customer, an employee, or a guest of the business owner, he/she is bound by the law to present you with a safe environment. Should you end up involved in an accident during your time inside the establishment, the business owner may be held liable for any injuries you sustain.

Things are not the same if you are trespassing on that property. In that scenario, you cannot hold the business owner liable if you happen to slip and fall because you were on the premises illegally.  As long as the business owner did not go out of his/her way to harm you while you were trespassing on their property, they will likely dismiss your lawsuit.

How Do You Prove That You Slip and Fell Due to a Business Owner’s Negligence?

Picture this scenario: You’re busy looking through the aisles of your local supermarket when your feet suddenly give way. Moments later, you’re lying on your back after hitting your head on the floor. As you get up, you notice a puddle of water where you fell and some droplets of water falling from the ceiling.

It appears that leakage falling from the ceiling has caused water to accumulate on the floor and you slipped on that spot as you were going about your business.

Can you file a personal injury claim due to what happened?

The answer is yes but note that you will need to prove a few things if you want your claim to hold up in court.

You will first need to prove that you are not to blame for the accident.

If someone posted warning signs around the spot where you slipped, it will be hard to say you’re blameless for what happened. Depending on what kind of wet spot you slipped on, the business owner may argue that you should have noticed it.

Let’s say that the wet spot was hardly noticeable, and no warning signs were pointing to it. The business owner will have a harder time placing the blame on you for what happened.

You can also look at the hole where the water came from. If it looks old, you can argue that the business owner did not do enough to fix it, and it became a hazard because of their inaction.

Poor lighting in the area where you slipped could be another factor. That is another strike against the business owner’s defense as he/she should have done something about that matter.

By the way, if you were hoping that the business owner will cooperate and provide all necessary records and surveillance footage upon your request, you will likely end up disappointed. Business owners are inclined to protect their bottom line first, and they will probably make it difficult for you to claim evidence.

For that reason, getting an attorney involved early on in the process is a good idea.

How Much Can You Expect to Receive if You Win Your Case?

The state where the accident took place can have a significant impact on what kind of compensation you receive.

To protect his/her finances, a business owner may accept most of the fault for your accident, but he/she may also accuse you of being partially to blame for what happened. The court will then examine your case closely to determine if you are at least partially responsible for the accident.

This is why the location matters a great deal.

Some states follow what are known as contributory fault rules. If you happen to live in such a state, you are out of luck if the court finds you partially responsible for the incident. That will prohibit you from receiving any compensation.

In states that abide by comparative fault laws, plaintiffs can claim damages even if the court determines that their actions contributed to the accident. The catch here is they will reduce your financial reward by the percentage of blame attributed to your actions.

A $10,000 reward will likely drop down to $8000 if they deemed you to be 20 percent at fault for the accident.

Notably, the state of California follows the comparative fault laws.

How Can Business Owners Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents from Happening on Their Property?

The financial ramifications of responding to a personal injury claim can be onerous, especially for small business owners. The attorney fees they’ll need to pay on top of the damages they owe to their injured customer may be so high that it may force them to close shop.

Needless to say, small business owners need to do everything in their power to prevent accidents from taking place on their property.

Steps business owners can take to keep their customers and employees safe include performing routine inspections. General inspections can be done daily before opening and it’s also a good idea to have someone keep an eye on the store throughout the day.

Regular maintenance is also a must. You should train your workers to respond to maintenance issues immediately, so they do not pose a threat to any customer passing by.

You should also have someone check on the property following rain and snowstorms. Some leaks that may have gone undetected previously may be problematic now, and they must deal with them as soon as possible.

Allow a Personal Injury Attorney to Handle Your Slip and Fall Case

As this article has shown, slip and fall cases are far from being straightforward. Even if you truly were the victim of a business owner’s negligence, you may not take home any financial reward if you don’t know how to argue your case correctly.

Get in touch with the Quirk Law Group right away and allow them to take over your case. Their assistance will help you obtain fair compensation.

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