Stuff happens. It might be good. It might be not-so-good. And sometimes it’s just plain awful. Let’s look at a plausible example: You’re at your local grocery store, hustling down the aisles to pick up a few things for dinner on your way home.
One minute you’re planning the night’s menu and the next thing you know you are lying flat on your back, legs splayed, arms akimbo and wondering what the heck just happened. You’ve just suffered a slip and fall in a store and possibly been hurt, perhaps even seriously.
Slip and Fall Situations
A slip and fall in a store usually arises from a combination of one or more of the following:
- A floor slippery from moisture caused by water or some other liquid the store failed to clean up; or
- The floor was unreasonably slippery because of the use of a cleaning product or due to excessive wear of the surface; and
- The store did not warn of the potential hazard or failed to cordon off the area where the hazard existed; or
- The store did warn of the hazard and/or acted to ensure the area was inaccessible but you chose to ignore the warning or safety precautions taken by the store.
Have you or a loved one recently had a slip and fall in a store in Passaic County? Have you been injured as a result? Will medical care be required? Will you be missing work for any length of time? Do you know what the next step is? And the step after that?
No matter how your accident involving a slip and fall in a store happened, your life may be substantially impacted as a result. If so, you may find yourself in need of an attorney experienced in handling such matters.
By “such matters” we mean personal injury cases, of course. But not all personal injury lawyers are fully equipped to adequately represent you in the event you are injured because of a slip and fall in a store.
For example, an attorney who specializes in motor vehicle accidents may not have the experience necessary to identify all the issues your case involves or fully appreciate the nature of your injury, your financial losses or other hardships you are dealing with as a result of the accident.
Do you have grounds for a slip and fall in a store case?
To fully assess whether you may have grounds to pursue recovery from the store in which you fell, a lawyer trained to handle slip and fall in a store cases will evaluate the following:
Was the accident preventable?
In other words, did the store know/should the store have known of the potentially unsafe condition that caused the accident? For example, if a customer dropped some grapes on the floor a short time before you slipped on them, was management aware, either via observation or because a customer informed them, of the fact that a “cleanup on the produce aisle” was necessary?
If not, the store’s lawyer will certainly argue that the accident was not preventable and the store is not, therefore, liable for any damages.
Who was at fault?
The answer to this question may be simple but the ramifications can be tricky. In short, from your lawyer’s perspective it really doesn’t matter who caused the unsafe condition so long as that person was not you (in which the discussion for number 3 below comes into play).
Whether the party who caused your slip and fall in a store was another customer, a leaky pipe, a vendor who spilled milk while restocking the dairy section, or a careless store employee who simply didn’t do a good job of cleaning up, your right to recovery will be little impacted.
The store owed you a safe environment in which to shop. The law will not hold the fact that it turned out to be unsafe against you when attributing fault or assessing damages to which you may be entitled. Unless…
You were partially responsible for the accident.
If the evidence shows that you were to any extent at fault for the slip and fall in a store, the court will compare your negligence with that of the store to assign the percentage of fault for each party. The amount of any damages you might recover will be reduced by the percentage to which you are deemed to have contributed to the accident and the losses you suffered as a result thereof.
Say, for example, that the store was aware of the potential hazard because it involved the recent waxing of the floor. Assume further that the store cordoned off the area that had been waxed and that signs warning that the floor was slippery were prominently placed.
If you were in a hurry, decided not to heed the warnings and took a shortcut through the area to which access had been restricted, the store’s attorney could reasonably (and probably successfully) argue that your slip and fall in a store accident happened only because of the choices you made. Put another way, you yourself could have prevented the accident.
What actions contributed to the injury?
Did your actions/lack of action contribute to the severity of the injury or the results of that injury on your ability to work, to engage in daily activities or pursue your hobbies?
The fact that management was negligent in preventing the slip and fall in a store does not automatically mean that the store will be held solely responsible for your loss of income, your medical expenses, or any other damages you may have experienced because of the injury you suffered.
Your recovery may be reduced by evidence that establishes you delayed seeking medical attention, did not follow medical instructions, engaged in activities that aggravated the severity of the original injury or simply exaggerated the injury itself.
A slip and fall in a store isn’t always serious. In many cases, people simply check to see if they’ve injured anything other than their pride, dust themselves off and carry on with their shopping.
If, however, you are actually injured because of a slip and fall in a store accident, it is in your best interests to seek the advice of a competent personal injury attorney at Fontanella, Benevento, Galluccio & Smith in Passaic County to ensure that you don’t add financial insult to your physical injury. Don’t let the impact of the accident become worse than it already is.