Store Liability for a Slip and Fall Accident

People who go shopping are normally thinking about the things that they will buy. Most people do not think about the possibility of being injured in a slip-and-fall accident. If you slip and fall while you are shopping, you might wonder whether the store is responsible for paying for your losses. A personal injury attorney at DiCindio Law can evaluate what occurred and explain whether the store might be liable for paying damages to compensate you. While stores may be liable in some cases, they will not be liable in every slip-and-fall accident. Working with a skilled lawyer at DiCindio Law can help you to determine liability.

Understanding premises liability

Premises liability is a category of tort cases that fall under the umbrella of personal injury law. This term is used to describe the liability of a store or other property owner for injuries that occur on their premises. Business owners have duties of care to keep their properties in a reasonably safe condition for customers who go to the stores to shop.

Stores should inspect their properties to keep them safe. If a store’s owner or operator knows that their businesses present unique risks of creating dangerous conditions, they should take steps to prevent their customers from being injured in accidents because of those foreseeable hazards.

It is important to understand that a store’s potential liability for a slip-and-fall accident is not the same thing as an insurance policy. Stores are not automatically liable to people who are injured on their premises. Instead, the store must have been negligent in taking steps to prevent or correct hazardous conditions that could result in foreseeable injuries.

Determining liability is fact-specific. A jury will consider the circumstances of a case to decide whether the store was negligent and if the store’s negligence was the cause of the victim’s accident and losses.

Types of cases when a store might be liable in a slip-and-fall accident

Many different situations might result in store liability, including the following:

  • Haphazardly placed products falling from shelves into aisles
  • Fallen branches or debris on sidewalks
  • Placing displays too close to each other
  • Allowing too many people inside at once
  • Letting customers push and shove each other to try to grab an item
  • Leaving liquids on the floor
  • Leaving paper towels on the floor in the bathroom
  • Waxing floors with slippery wax
  • Failing to clean ice, snow, and rain that have been tracked inside by customers

All stores have a duty of care to their customers in Pennsylvania. Both small stores and large chains have a duty to keep their premises reasonably safe to prevent their customers from being injured.

The open and obvious doctrine

The open and obvious doctrine is a legal concept under which the customers of a store have a legal obligation to avoid readily apparent dangers inside of stores. While a store has a duty to keep its premises safe, the customers also have a duty to take steps to avoid obvious hazards.

When considering whether to award damages in a case, a jury will consider the circumstances and decide whether the customer should have acted differently. A condition is considered to be open and obvious in Pennsylvania if it is something that would be reasonably apparent to a person who was exercising normal perception and judgment.

Short-staffing issues

Being short-staffed is not an excuse for a store to fail to inspect the premises and correct dangerous conditions. It is the store’s obligation to have the number of employees it needs to keep the premises safe. This means that a store cannot defend itself by claiming it did not have enough employees working to inspect and discover the dangerous condition when it occurred.

Potentially liable parties

Some claims involving injuries in stores may involve more than one defendant. Depending on the facts, you might be able to file a claim against the store’s operator. In others, you might be able to file a claim against the property owner that failed to properly maintain the property. Some stores may be parts of a chain, making it appropriate to file a claim against the local store, the chain, or both. Your attorney can help you to identify all of the potentially liable parties that you should name as a defendant to your claim.

Evidence of other incidents

If records exist of other slip-and-fall accidents in the store where you were injured, they can help to bolster your claim. Your attorney can review the previous claims to evaluate whether the store knew about the potential dangers because of prior accidents. These types of incidents can function as a warning to a store that it should take additional steps to protect its customers.

Statute of limitations for slip-and-fall accidents

Every state has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims. These laws place a limit on the time when claims can be filed. If you wait until after the limitations period has expired, you will not be able to file a lawsuit to recover damages. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations is two years. You should talk to an attorney as soon as possible after our accident instead of waiting until the end of the limitations period is near, however. This can help you to preserve important evidence that might otherwise be lost.

Get help from an experienced lawyer at DiCindio Law

People who are injured in slip-and-fall accidents in stores because of the negligence of the stores’ negligence have a right to recover damages for their losses. Meeting with a personal injury lawyer at DiCindio Law can help you to learn about your rights and the legal options that are available to you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation by calling us at 610.430.3535 or by filling out our contact form.

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