Imagine this: you’re walking through the grocery store scanning the shelves, then all of a sudden, your feet give out from underneath you. Besides the shooting pain you feel throughout your body, you feel a wet substance on the floor—it’s a puddle that an employee failed to clean up.
You may feel embarrassed for slipping while shopping for this week’s provisions, but you’re not alone. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, more than 8 million emergency room visits are because of slip and fall accidents.
Although accidents like these can occur in seconds, the physical pain and medical expenses can last the remainder of your life. Thankfully, you can take action against negligent store owners and recover compensation for your injuries—but that’s not to say these slip and fall cases are easy. Store owners will likely try to pin the blame on you, and fighting back becomes even more difficult if you’re up against a nationwide chain with skilled attorneys on their payroll. In this article, we’ll look at what circumstances a store can be held liable for your injuries, what you need to prove when you file a claim against them, and how the expertise of a Carrollton slip and fall lawyer can help you reach a successful outcome.
Businesses Have a Duty To Keep Their Property Safe
Any business that opens its doors to customers has a responsibility to keep its property in a reasonably safe condition, regardless if it’s a major chain or a local, mom-and-pop shop. This responsibility is known as “premises liability,” which holds property owners—including stores and other businesses—liable for injuries that occur on their property.
Under this legal concept, businesses can be held liable for your injuries once they have been made aware of a dangerous condition on their property and if they fail to take reasonable precautions to remedy the harmful condition.
This is why many store owners have a policy to clean the floors quickly if a spill occurs or will put up a wet floor sign to warn visitors to watch their steps. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to slip on the slick linoleum of a store floor to have a valid slip and fall claim. An accident can qualify as a “slip and fall” any time there’s an obstacle or hazard in a visitor’s path. Other dangerous conditions that can cause a slip and fall include:
- Frayed floor mats or rugs;
- Cluttered store aisles;
- Poorly placed items that fall into walking paths;
- Poor lighting inside stores, on sidewalks, and in parking lots;
- Forklifts and other equipment operating in stores;
- Cracks, potholes, and other hazards in parking lots; and
- Defective fixtures or equipment.
Though the above examples qualify for a slip and fall case, your claim doesn’t stop there. You also have to prove that their negligence directly led to your injuries.
You'll Need to Prove Their Negligence Caused Your Injuries
In order to hold the store or business responsible, you must prove that someone (either the store owner, the property owner if they’re leasing the property, an employee, or some combination of these) was negligent and that negligence directly caused your injury.
Specifically, you must have evidence that:
- The store (through its employees or managers) knew or should have recognized that there was some type of hazard or unsafe condition on the premises (i.e. a broken step or an employee leaving an obstacle in a walking path);
- The store failed to take reasonable steps to remove or repair the potential danger;
- It was reasonably foreseeable that someone could be injured due to the condition; and
- You sustained injuries due to the store’s negligence in remedying the condition.
While you may have sustained injuries and it may be obvious to you that the store owner’s negligence caused your injuries, it does not mean holding the business or any other related party accountable will be easy. Let’s take a closer look at some factors that can complicate these cases and how a Carrollton slip and fall lawyer can help you build a solid case.
Factors That Complicate Slip and Fall Cases
Slip and fall cases tend to be more complicated than other personal injury cases for three main reasons. First, fault for a slip and fall is often more difficult to prove, and property owners won’t willingly accept responsibility unless there is indisputable evidence of liability. Second, they may argue that they couldn’t have reasonably noticed the hazard. Third, it’s likely that the at-fault party will try to partially (or totally) pin the blame on you.
A key word when it comes to premises liability is “reasonable.” As we mentioned earlier, premises liability states that property owners have a duty of care to keep their property reasonably safe to prevent visitors from suffering injuries. Therefore, in order to hold the business responsible, the business must have reasonably known about the hazard that caused your injury.
For instance, if a patron in a restaurant spills their drink on the floor and you slip on it fifteen seconds later, the restaurant owner will likely argue that they had no reasonable opportunity to learn of the hazard and take the appropriate steps to clean it. If the puddle had been on the floor for quite some time and you have evidence that proves it, you’ll be able to bolster your claim. However, without solid evidence, this can quickly devolve into a “he said, she said” situation.
If you’re filing a slip and fall lawsuit, you can bet that the other party is going to try to prove you were partially or entirely at fault for the accident. This is what’s known under Texas law as “comparative negligence,” which means any damages award you receive will be reduced according to the percentage of your fault.
For example, if you were running through the store or looking at your phone and not paying attention to your surroundings, a court or jury may assign a percentage of fault to you for the accident.
However, comparative negligence doesn’t mean it’s necessarily present just because the business alleges it in its defense. A Carrollton slip and fall lawyer can help you determine if comparative negligence impacts your case, how to fight back against unfair claims, and present the evidence effectively to reach a fair result in your case.
How a Slip and Fall Lawyer Can Build Your Case
Because of the complexity of slip and fall cases, a lawyer is your best bet to reach a fair settlement. This is especially true if key issues, like comparative negligence, are in question or if you’re fighting against a nationwide chain with high-paid attorneys on their side.
Here’s how a Carrollton slip and fall lawyer can level the playing field and build your case:
- They’ll examine the scene to determine why and how your injuries occurred;
- Investigate whether property conditions violated any federal, state, or local regulations;
- Subpoena video or camera footage that may prove fault;
- Gather statements from witnesses who were there at the time of the accident;
- Obtain and organize all of your medical records and bills;
- Properly document your lost income; and
- Gather evidence and present an argument for your non-economic losses, like pain and suffering.
Injured In a Store? Our Carrollton Slip and Fall Lawyers Are Here to Help
Slip and fall claims are complicated, and they’re made even more complicated when you’re fighting against a store owner who refuses to accept liability. This is where our Carrollton slip and fall lawyers shine. Our attorneys are well-versed in the intricacies of slip and fall cases and have an extensive track record of securing compensation for our clients. The best part? We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t owe us anything unless you get paid.
Schedule a free consultation with us today. Our team of personal injury lawyers will discuss your case and gather necessary supporting evidence to make sure you get the compensation— and justice—you deserve.