Slip and Fall Accidents in Stores and Businesses: Who is Liable?

ISTOCK IMAGE ID 16047695If you slip and fall in a store or business and your accident results in an injury, you may have grounds for a claim or lawsuit. Whether or not you have a claim, or who you would bring the claim against, depends on many factors in your incident.

First of all, in order for a store or business to be liable for your injury, the establishment must have been negligent, and that negligence must have led directly to your injury. A store or business is negligent if it fails to exhibit reasonable care for safety. Simply falling in a store does not constitute negligence; the establishment has to have provided unsafe conditions which caused you to fall. What’s more, you would have to show the store or business could have reasonably known of the unsafe condition.

When assessing the unsafe condition that led you to slip and fall, some important things to consider include:

  • Was the floor unreasonably slippery?
  • Why was the floor slippery?
  • If a foreign substance made the floor slippery, how long had that substance been on the floor before you slipped?
  • Was there a warning about the slippery condition, or did you have reason to know the floor was slippery before you slipped?
  • Did the owner of the establishment know (or have reason to know) that the floor was unreasonably slippery?

One of the most important things for winning a slippery floor case is determining why the floor was slippery. It is advised that you find out what made the floor slippery before you leave the establishment after your accident. If you do not know what made the floor slippery, and you do not testify until some time after your accident, the jury will be less likely to believe you when you say what caused you to slip and fall. Try to look around you, and at your shoes and clothes, right after you slip and fall. Common causes of a slippery floor might be:

  • water, ice, or snow
  • grease, oil, or some other type of lubrication
  • a slippery foreign object such as food debris
  • floor wax or polish

The next part of proving a slippery floor case involves proving the store owner knew or had reason to know that the floor was too slippery. It might help your case if you can determine how long the slippery substance was on the floor. The longer the slippery substance was on the floor, the longer the store or business owners had to find and fix the problem, and the more likely you are to win your claim. However, if another customer spills water on the floor and you immediately slip in it, the establishment could not have reasonably learned about the slippery condition and would not be held liable for your injury.

In a slip and fall case, the nature of the negligence determines who you will sue. If the store owner owns the property, then usually they will be the defendant. Sometimes, a store owner leases the property from a landlord or property owner. If your slip and fall was caused by a structural problem, such as a water leak, you may bring your case against the landlord or property owner. If your injury was caused by something the store owner or store owner’s employees did (or failed to do), you may bring your case against the store owner.


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