When you visit a store or restaurant, it is only reasonable to expect that areas where patrons walk will be maintained for the patrons’ safety. If these areas become slippery or unsafe due to other conditions, you may be injured in what is commonly called a “slip-and-fall” case. If you have suffered such an injury (or some other injury due to unsafe conditions) at a place of business, you will need the guidance of an experienced personal injury lawyer to seek compensation for your injuries.
At the time that you experience such an injury, it is advisable to:
- Take photos of the dangerous conditions (if possible)
- Speak to any potential witnesses of the dangerous condition and obtain their contact information
- Write down the date, time and location where the accident occurred
- Describe in writing the circumstances of the accident
Take this information to your attorney the first time you meet. If your attorney advises you that you have a case against the business owner, then it will be your attorney’s job to prove that the business owner or the employee knew about the hazardous condition, or should have known the condition existed, and did not act to correct the potential hazards.
What are the typical causes of dangerous conditions at a store or restaurant? In a grocery store, it may be an area that became slippery due to produce smashed on the floor. In a restaurant, it might be an area where water or other liquid has been spilled. For any business, an outdoor walkway may have been cleared, but it is made slick with a thin layer of ice you cannot see, or perhaps there is a tripping hazard due to items left on the floor, or an uneven surface.
Your accident lawyer will need to prove that the business owner or employee knew about the hazard or should have known about it and did not take steps to correct it. Let us assume you slipped, fell and were injured. These questions may be explored:
- Was the surface excessively slippery?
- Why was the surface slippery?
- Were there any warnings of the hazard?
- Did you know about the hazard?
- How long had the surface been slippery?
Acceptable remedies by the business owner or employee might include immediately cleaning up any spills, placing warning signs, and/or blocking or roping off the dangerous surface or area.
It is important to understand liability and negligence. Determining negligence is not always clear-cut. For instance, in one case, a state trooper sued the state authority because he slipped and fell on a walkway during a snowstorm. The case was dismissed by the court, because of a doctrine called “storm in progress.” In this case, the state authority did not have enough time to clear the walkways because the storm was happening at the time of the incident.
There are cases in which the court finds that the complainant (you) was partially responsible for the accident. In this type of case, the amount of damages awarded to the complainant is reduced by an amount determined by the court.
Read more about getting compensation for premises liability here
Being injured in a store or restaurant may have serious consequences for your health and your ability to work. If you have been injured at a store or restaurant, set up a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.