Property owners are legally obligated to ensure that their premises are reasonably safe for anyone on site, so when a patron enters a store or restaurant, they have a right to assume that their safety is not in jeopardy. Unfortunately, when property owners and managers fail to take this responsibility seriously, accidents and injuries can result.
Slips and falls at stores and restaurants are some of the most common types of premises liability accidents. In fact, slip and fall accidents send more than one million people to the emergency room each year, according to statistics from the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI). When store or restaurant patrons are hurt in a slip and fall accident caused by property owner or manager negligence, they may be entitled to compensation for injuries and other damages.
Common Slip and Fall Accident Causes
Highly trafficked areas like stores and restaurants are prone to developing a number of potentially hazardous conditions, which is why regular maintenance is essential to ensure safety. Common causes of slip and fall accidents at stores and restaurants include:
- Ice or snow on sidewalks, or in parking lots and entrance ways
- Floors wet from cleaning, spills or leaks
- Broken or uneven tiles or pavement
- Loose, bunched or damaged carpeting
- Debris, garbage, merchandise or boxes in walkways
- Overly polished or waxed floors
- Loose wires or extension cords in aisles and walkways
- Unmarked or slippery staircases without a railing
- Staircases with missing or damaged steps
- Overcrowded aisles made narrower by stacked out merchandise
- Poor or inadequate lighting
- Inadequate signage warning of potential hazards, such as wet floors
What to Do After a Slip and Fall Accident
What the accident victim does in the moments following the slip and fall can have a significant impact on their ability to collect compensation for their injuries. Being involved in a slip and fall accident can be a jarring experience, but victims who keep a cool head and take the following steps can strengthen a future insurance claim or premises liability personal injury lawsuit:
- Identify the cause of the slip and fall. Whether it is ice on the ground, spilled food or uneven tiling, the reason for the slip and fall is often apparent.
- Take photos of the accident scene, including any and all conditions that caused or contributed to the slip and fall.
- Obtain contact information—including names, addresses, and phone numbers—from anyone who witnessed the slip and fall accident.
- Report the accident to the store or restaurant's owner or manager, and follow the business's procedure for doing so. This may require completing a slip and fall accident report.
- Seek immediate medical attention, even if injuries seem minor. It is important to get all injuries on record as soon as possible. Additionally, some injuries may not manifest immediately; doctors can tell victims what symptoms to watch for.
- Consult an attorney. If injuries sustained in the slip and fall accident are serious or the at-fault party made an unfairly low settlement offer, having experienced legal representation can be extremely beneficial.
Proving a Premises Liability Claim
Not all slip and fall accidents are the result of negligence. To prove negligence in a premises liability claim, the following key points must be present:
- The store or restaurant owner or manager was aware of the potentially hazardous condition.
- The property owner or manager chose not to repair the hazardous condition in a timely manner.
- The hazardous condition resulted in an accident.
- The victim was injured in the accident.
- The victim's injuries are a direct result of the unrepaired hazardous condition.
Do You Need a Premises Liability Attorney?
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident at a store or restaurant, you may be eligible for compensation for injuries and other losses. The knowledgeable premises liability attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you pursue a fair financial recovery. Contact us today to schedule a free initial case analysis.