Slip and Fall Accidents in Stores

A slip and fall accident can turn an enjoyable day of shopping into a nightmare. Every year, more than one million Americans visit the emergency room with injuries they sustained in a slip and fall accident. Many of these types of accidents happen in retail stores. Store flooring is often made of laminate materials or wood, which can become very slippery when wet.

Water buildup can be attributed to a variety of factors such as a leaky ceiling or roof, broken pipe, or accidental spill. Stores are also filled with products that can fall off the shelves and obstruct pathways. Tripping over an item can happen if workers are not vigilant and patrons are not careful. It is the merchant’s responsibility to notify patrons about potential hazards such as wet flooring and prevent them from entering the area, if possible.

Slippery Substances

A slippery fall is caused by a substance that makes the ground wet and causes the shoes to lose traction with the ground’s surface. Substances such as floor polish, wax, water, grease, oil, laundry detergent, bleach, butter, and more will make the floor’s surface wet. If the floor is not cleaned immediately following a spill, then the substance will spread and/or stick to the floor. It is imperative for business owners to leave “wet floor” signs and section off areas with spills or excessive water to prevent injury.

Slip and Fall Injuries

Victims of a slip and fall accident can suffer from several different injuries ranging from minor to severe. Some of these can lead to life-long complications. Injured fall victims should seek the help of a medical professional immediately following the accident.

Common injuries include fractures, broken bones, herniated discs, and sprained joints. Victims can slip and hit their head on the floor or a fixture, which can lead to concussions and contusions. Patrons can also be injured in store parking lots due to cracks, uneven surfaces, puddles, and ice.

Premises Liability Laws

By law, a property owner is responsible for proper upkeep and maintenance of their property. They must ensure all safety and building codes are observed and the premises are kept clean and free of foreseeable hazards. Store owners and landlords must work together or they both may be held liable in a slip and fall lawsuit.

If you notice puddles, cracks, or other obstructions, it is best to notify a worker or manager on the premises. Not only can these actions prevent accidents, they also show that you are doing your due diligence to be conscious of your surroundings. Notification gives store owners knowledge of the issue and time to correct the problem.

Proving Liability

The most difficult aspect of a slip and fall case is proving liability. When the case involves a store, the courts will look at all aspects of the situation, such as the behavior of the store owner, the behavior of the victim, and the common issues that arise in a store.

The burden of proof is on the plaintiff to show how the owner’s negligence led to the accident. If the store owner is renting property and structural damage caused the accident, then the landlord may be liable. Oftentimes, liability cases are up to the state’s interpretation of premises liability laws.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard DiTomaso
Richard DiTomaso, Esq. was admitted to the practice of law in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in 1996, and was admitted to the practice in Illinois in 1995. He is admitted to practice in all State Courts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the Federal District Court of New Jersey and the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania and also the U.S. Supreme Court. Richard DiTomaso, Esq. is a Certified Civil Trial Attorney as designated by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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