Slip and Fall Accidents: What Is the Liability of the Retail Business?
A slip and fall accident may occur at an infinite number of places, ranging from a sidewalk or public area, within a home, while walking up or down the stairs, in one’s own driveway, and many others. One of the most common settings for a slip and fall accident to take place is within a retail store. Retail stores present numerous potential slip and fall hazards, and sometimes, fall injuries can be very serious.
If you’ve experienced a slip and fall within a retail store or other business and have suffered injuries as a result, you may have questions about liability. At the law office of Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz, Ltd., our Virginia slip and fall attorneys can help by investigating your claim and building your case. Call us today for your free consultation.
Retail Store Hazards that Lead to Slip and Falls
As stated above, the retail stores present numerous hazards that could potentially cause a slip and fall accident. These hazards include, but are not limited to:
- Overly loaded or improperly stocked shelves, resulting in falling merchandise/objects;
- Spills of food, drinks, and other sticky or slippery substances;
- Overcrowding and congestion, especially during big sales;
- Objects and merchandise in walking areas, especially when stocking shelves;
- Structural defects, such as torn carpet, broken stairs, cracked flooring, or uneven walking surfaces;
- Poor lighting, resulting in a store patron being unable to see a slip and fall hazard; and
- Unremoved snow and ice in the parking lot and store entryways.
When a slip and fall occurs as a result of one of these or other uncorrected hazards, the injured party may have a cause of action against the retail store.
Retail Store Liability: How to Prove Negligence and Collect Damages
A retail store, which is open to the public, is responsible for maintaining safe premises for all those who enter the store. If this duty is breached, it is possible for the retail store/property owner to be held liable for damages that result. In order to prove a breach, a plaintiff must establish that:
- A dangerous condition existed on the property; and
- The dangerous condition was the direct cause of the plaintiff’s slip and fall and subsequent injury; and
- The property owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition; and
- The property owner failed to remedy the condition within a reasonable amount of time.
Perhaps the most challenging part of bringing a premises liability claim against a retail store is proving that the store (owner or manager) knew of the hazard, or reasonably should have known of the hazard, and that an unreasonable amount of time passed between when the store learned of the hazard and when action was taken to correct it, if any action was taken at all.
For example, say a customer spills a drink within a store. Approximately five minutes later, a store employee passes the spill, clearly noticing the hazard. Rather than immediately cleaning up the spill or marking of the area with a cone or hazard sign, the employee is distracted by another task, forgetting the spill altogether. 25 minutes later, another customer approaches the area, fails to see the spill, and slips and falls, fracturing a hip. Because (a representative of) the store knew of the hazard and had time to remedy the situation but failed to do so, the store may be held liable.
An Attorney Can Assist You in Proving Liability
In addition to proving knowledge of the hazard and failure to remedy the hazard, you may also be tasked with proving that the hazard was not so obvious that it should have been avoided. For example, if you are the customer who slipped and fell in the example above, if the spill was in the middle of the floor and you saw it (or clearly should have seen it) before walking into it, you may be held partially or fully liable for your injuries.
Our attorneys can help you to prove liability and maximize your settlement by gathering all crucial evidence for your claim, working with insurance adjusters, proving the extent of damages you’ve suffered, and negotiating your settlement. This is especially important in Virginia because of the state’s “contributory negligence” legal doctrine. Under contributory negligence, if a plaintiff is found to be even 1% at-fault for the event that resulted in their injury, they may be barred from recovering compensation.
Call Our Experienced Slip and Fall Attorneys Today
For a free consultation with the Virginia slip and fall lawyers at the law office of Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz, Ltd., call our office today at 434-977-7977. You may also send us a message through our online contact form or visit our office in person.