People in Pennsylvania go to the supermarket to buy groceries so often that they rarely think about the potential risks of accidents that can happen. When you are pushing your shopping cart down the store’s aisles, you likely are thinking about finding the items on your shopping list or about what you need to purchase for dinner. However, hundreds of people suffer injuries in supermarkets every day from slip-and-fall accidents. If you suffer injuries after slipping or tripping and falling in a supermarket, you might wonder who will be responsible for paying for your losses. A personal injury lawyer at DiCindio Law can help you determine whether you might have grounds to pursue a claim after your supermarket accident.
Common causes of supermarket accidents and injuries
Supermarket accidents commonly happen because of dangerous conditions that exist within the store or the parking lot. Some of the common causes of supermarket accidents include the following:
- Broken tiles
- Torn carpeting
- Slick surfaces
- Objects or debris left on floors
- Falling packages or boxes
- Broken asphalt
- Entrance mats that slip or are bunched up
Some of the common types of injuries that happen in supermarket accidents include broken bones, lacerations, bruises, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries. Whether you will be able to recover will depend on several factors, including whether your accident was caused by the negligence of the supermarket owner or operator and whether your carelessness caused your accident.
Duty of care
Supermarkets owe a legal duty of care to people who visit their premises to shop. They must ensure that their premises are free from hazards that could foreseeably cause injuries and harm. This duty does not require that supermarkets remove every possible hazard from the store. Instead, the property owners or operators are responsible for correcting conditions that could reasonably cause preventable harm that they know about or that they reasonably should have discovered.
For example, if a supermarket employee ignores spilled milk in an aisle, and you slip and fall, you may have grounds to file a liability claim. By contrast, if another customer spilled the milk immediately before you slipped in it, you will not be likely to have grounds for a claim because the supermarket’s employees did not have a chance to discover the spill and clean it up. To win a claim, you must prove that the store or its employees engaged in negligence in some way and that the negligence caused your accident and injuries.
Like other businesses that are open to the public, supermarkets have a legal obligation to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition to protect their customers. The store may be liable to pay damages to injured victims if the victims can show that their accidents happened because of dangerous conditions on the property. Injuries in slip-and-fall supermarket accidents can happen for many reasons. People might slip in accumulated rain, ice, or snow in the store’s entryway or trip over a torn mat. The store might have inadequate lighting, making it difficult to see obstacles or objects in the customer’s path. Whether the store will be liable will depend on whether the hazard had existed for a sufficient time for the store to have noticed it and have a chance to correct it.
Holding a supermarket liable
Several theories can support a supermarket’s liability for an accident on its premises. A store may be liable if the unsafe condition was created by it. For example, if the store used a very slippery wax to clean the floors, it may be liable.
Even if they did not create the danger, supermarkets can also be liable if they were aware of the hazardous condition but did not take action to remedy it. For example, if one customer drops a pickle jar in a store aisle, and another customer is injured after slipping and falling in the spilled liquid and broken glass, the store may be liable. In that case, the plaintiff will need to show that the store knew that the pickle jar had been broken or that it should have known about it. To prove this type of case, a plaintiff would need to present evidence demonstrating that the broken jar had remained in the aisle for long enough that the store should have discovered and cleaned it up. The victim might also show that the store was aware that spilled or dropped items were common occurrences, but the store failed to have an inspection system in place to monitor and clean up spills.
People who are injured in supermarkets will have to present evidence that the condition was not open and obvious. Open and obvious conditions are those that people should reasonably have noticed and taken steps to avoid them. For example, customers will likely be unable to recover damages when they are injured by tripping over large and visible displays. Customers are expected to use reasonable caution to protect themselves.
The statute of limitations
People who are injured in supermarket accidents must act quickly. Like other states, Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims. If you wait to file your claim until after the statute of limitations has passed, you will not be able to recover damages through a lawsuit. Pennslyvania’s statute of limitations is two years from the date of the injury. In practice, people should seek legal help as soon as possible after an accident so that important evidence will not be lost.
Get help from DiCindio Law
Being injured in a supermarket accident can result in substantial losses. If you have suffered injuries in an accident that was caused by the negligence of the store or its employees, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit. Contact DiCindio Law to learn about the rights that you might have by calling us at 610.430.3535 or by filling out our contact form.