Grocery shopping isn’t for everyone. Well, virtually everyone needs to do it but it doesn’t mean we all like it. We’re guaranteed to like it even less if we happen to get injured while shopping for the week’s groceries.
But it happens. Perhaps it’s happened to you. If it has recently happened to you, now might be a good time to speak with a supermarket injury lawyer in Passaic County about if you could recover damages for any injuries you suffered.
Who can sue?
Anyone injured on supermarket property may have grounds upon which to seek recovery for damages, but only if the following factors are present:
- The grocery store has an affirmative (legal) duty to conform to a standard of care or conduct
- That standard of care or conduct was not met
- The failure to meet the standard of care or conduct presented a hazard or created a dangerous condition
- The hazard or dangerous condition resulted in an accident which would not have occurred otherwise
- The accident resulted in actual harm (physical injury) to you.
A supermarket injury lawyer in Passaic County can review the facts of your case to determine whether all five of these conditions are present.
Upon what grounds can a lawsuit can be based?
An accident that occurs in or on the property of a supermarket falls under what is referred to as “premises liability”, a concept that applies in varying degrees to private, commercial and public property. If you slip and fall in a produce aisle of your local grocer, for example, you are on the premises of a commercial establishment and the owner or operator of those premises may have owed you a standard of care to keep you safe. This is probably the stage at which you should consider hiring a supermarket injury lawyer in Passaic County.
In general, a commercial property owner has a duty to keep you, the customer, from suffering any kind of harm. In most jurisdictions this imposes on the grocer a duty of reasonable care under all circumstances. In New Jersey, owners of commercial property may be held liable for injury if the owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition (or a hazard) was present and could have prevented or fixed it via ordinary maintenance.
However, even if the condition was such that routine maintenance would not have resolved the problem, the property owner still has a duty to the customer to fix it or, in the alternative, provide adequate warning and other protection so that the customer isn’t exposed to the condition. For example:
Due to heavy rains there is a leak in the roof of your favorite grocer that results in water being deposited in the deli aisle. Clearly, the a roof repair is probably not feasible until the rain stops.
Under such circumstances, the commercial property owner would reasonably be expected to place signs warning all customers of a slippery floor. A court might also determine that the grocer should have prevented customers from entering the aisle at all.
In this example, if the grocer did not take such steps and a shopper was injured because he slipped on the wet floor, a court would be justified in finding that it breached its duty to take reasonable care. If so, the grocer would be held liable for damages.
Who is at fault if I injure myself on the premises of a supermarket?
If you are injured while on grocery store property, a supermarket injury lawyer in Passaic County will assess the information necessary to determine who is potentially liable for the damages your lawsuit seeks to recover. Although you would think the owner of the grocery store would be the obvious answer to the question, that’s not always the case. How and where you were injured play a role in the analysis as does whether a party other than the owner had a duty to prevent or remove the hazard.
Example 1: Let’s say that you were injured walking up to the store entrance because you tripped over a loose part of the sidewalk. Assume further that earlier in the day a construction company had done some repair work on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, that company did a poor job which is, of course, why part of the sidewalk was loose. Unless this situation was brought to the grocer’s attention, the grocer would probably not be found negligent. While your supermarket injury lawyer in Passaic County would probably still name the grocer among the defendants, the party that would most likely be held responsible is the construction company.
Example 2: Customer 1 is grocery shopping with his two small children. One of them thinks it’s hilarious to smear grapes on the floor. Customer 1 makes his child stop, scolds her and then continues shopping but says nothing to store personnel. A store employee, stocking a different section of the produce department, makes a mental note to clean up the mess as soon as he finishes emptying the box he’s been unloading. In the meantime, here comes Customer 2 (you) and the next thing you know you’ve slipped and landed hard on your left wrist in an attempt to break your fall. Unfortunately, all you broke was your left wrist.
Your supermarket injury lawyer in Passaic County will likely tell you that the grocery store is liable. You might ask why that’s so since it was the store employee who was aware of the dangerous condition but did nothing to fix it. Simply put, the employee is an agent of the grocer. As long as he was acting within the scope of his job, he wouldn’t be held personally liable and responsibility for his actions would be imputed (attributed) to his employer.
The grocer was negligent, that negligence caused my accident and my accident resulted in a serious injury. What am I entitled to?
On your behalf, your supermarket injury lawyer in Passaic County will pursue two kinds of damages, each intended to compensate for a specific type of loss:
- General Damages: If the injury you suffered renders you incapable of working for an extended period of time, general damages include loss of future wages. If the injury prevents you from advancing in your profession, then the damages will include the difference between your income at the time of injury and what a promotion or advancement would have paid. General damages also compensate for the inability to carry out daily tasks such as driving or housework or engaging in a hobby. In most cases, these damages may also compensate for pain and suffering.
- Special Damages: Included are costs associated with the care and treatment of your injury. These include such things as doctor and hospital bills, prescriptions, medical aids (a wheelchair or cane, for example) and any expenses you expect to incur for an extended period of time (such as vocational rehabilitation). Your supermarket injury lawyer in Passaic County will also pursue actual wage loss if your injury prevents you from working for any period of time. In other words, special damages are the costs incurred that can actually be calculated, not those which are subject to estimates or speculation.