Did you become injured as the result of a slip and fall? Did you fall inside a retail store, or on an exterior sidewalk? Then you may be entitled to compensation for expenses related to your injury. Learn more from our personal injury attorney below.

When Is a Retail Store Liable for a Slip and Fall?

A store or property owner may be held liable for a slip and fall or trip and fall injury if they either create the hazard, or allow it to exist when reasonable care would have led to the hazards discovery – typically a spill or debris on the floor that the management failed to address, or allowing slipping hazards to exist on the walkways. 

The case of Bonnie Gutierrez and Milton Gutierrez v. Stop & Shop provides an example of when a store may be held liable for its patron’s slip and fall injury. The plaintiff was seriously injured as the result of slipping on a grape while shopping at a grocery store. The plaintiff alleged that numerous grapes were present on the floor where she slipped, that the nearby waste basket was overflowing, and that the store was selling unsealed bags of grapes at the time of her injury. The plaintiff’s counsel argued that the store’s management should have known its customers’ careless handling of grapes could create a slipping hazard and taken reasonable precautions against injury. The case was settled out of court for $950,000.

When Is a Retail Store Negligent?

A plaintiff in a negligence lawsuit must establish four elements in order to win: duty, breach of duty, causation and damages.

Bonnie Gutierrez and Milton Gutierrez v. Stop & Shop illustrates all four elements of a negligence lawsuit. The grocery store had a duty to protect its patrons from slipping hazards. The grocery store breached that duty by allowing grapes to accumulate on its floor. A stray grape caused the plaintiff to fall. The plaintiff’s injuries were the direct result of stepping on a grape. Had the case not been settled out of court, it is quite possible the defendant would have been ruled negligent in a court of law.

The key to the case is the ability to prove (through witness testimony or the internal surveillance images of the store) that the dangerous condition existed for a long enough period, that the store either knew of it or in the exercise of reasonable care, would have discovered and remedied the hazard.

What Is a Retail Store Liable for in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?

Several types of injuries commonly result from slip and fall accidents, including broken bones, hip fractures, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and knee injuries. If a store’s negligence directly resulted in one or more of these injuries, they may be legally obligated to pay for the victim’s medical costs. They may also have to compensate the victim for loss of income they sustained as the result of their injuries, as well as pain and suffering. 

When a wrongful death results from a slip and fall injury, the store may be held liable for medical bills, funeral arrangements, and the loss of the financial support and guidance, advice and companionship suffered by the surviving spouse and family members.  

What Should I Do if I Suffer a Slip and Fall Injury at a Retail Store?

If you fall and become injured at a store, remain calm and seek immediate medical attention. Doing so will not just create the best chance of your full recovery. It will establish credibility should you decide to file a lawsuit.

While you await medical attention, attempt to determine the cause of your fall. Is the floor wet despite the absence of a warning sign? Is there a piece of crushed produce where you were standing? Note the presence of any such slipping hazards. Take photos of the surrounding area if possible, request the security footage of the area where you fell, and get contact information from witnesses as well as anyone who comes to your aid. If you fell on a sidewalk, look for design problems that make the formation of the hazard foreseeable, such as allowing roof runoff to cross a sidewalk.  Make a written request that the store preserve any surveillance video. Frequently, unless an effort is made to preserve them, the images will not be saved. Listen for admissions of the store employees. A store employee may admit things that will be admissible in court such as “I told him/her to clean that up” or “that is where ice always forms”. 

File an official injury report, even if the store’s management does not request you to. Go into the greatest detail possible, and make every effort to be completely accurate. This will also help to establish credibility should you decide to file a lawsuit. In addition to the official injury report, record your own account of the accident as soon as you are able. 

Under no circumstances should you give a recorded statement to the property owner or their insurance provider. If an insurance adjuster calls you, politely decline to make any statement regarding the incident. Likewise, refrain from making any social media posts about the incident. Should you choose to file a personal injury claim, contact a slip and fall attorney as soon as you are able. If you live in or near Buffalo, Minnesota, then we welcome you to contact Kiernan Personal Injury Attorney P.A. (763) 682-1082 today for a free initial consultation and case analysis. We do everything within our power to ensure that our clients receive the compensation they are owed.