Often, retailers fail to ensure that there are no safety hazards on their property. Such safety hazards can include liquid spills or broken product fixtures that are not taken care of nor addressed with proper warning signals. As a result, customers can slip/trip and fall and suffer severe injuries such as broken bones, head injuries, or spinal cord damage. What should you know if you are involved in a slip/trip and fall incident?
LIABILITY FOR SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS
The legal concept of premises liability states that property owners must maintain safe conditions on their properties to ensure that visitors are not harmed. If the property owners fail to fulfill this legal obligation, they may be liable for injuries that occur as a result of unsafe conditions on the property.
However, property owners can only be held liable if their negligence directly led to the injuries the victim sustained while at the property. If you are involved in a slip/trip and fall incident, you must prove one of the following:
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE RETAILER AND THE PROPERTY OWNER
If a retailer does not own the property, both the retailer and the property owner could be held liable for slip/trip and fall injuries. Before determining who is liable, an attorney must distinguish between who knew about the hazard and who was responsible for fixing it.
For example, let’s say a property had uneven flooring due to improperly installed tiles and a customer sustained injuries due to the uneven flooring. In this case, the property owner would most likely be liable because it is usually the property owner’s responsibility to repair issues with flooring. However, if the retailer never informed the property owner of the hazard, the retailer may be the only liable party.
The retailer is the only responsible party for hazards that are not related to the property or building’s structure. For example, if someone at the property spilled a liquid on the floor and caused a customer to slip and fall, the retailer would be liable for their injuries. The property owner is not responsible for ensuring that tenants are cleaning liquid spills in a timely manner.
Determining who is liable in a slip/trip and fall case may be challenging. It is always best to hire an attorney who has experience and can prove liability in these unique cases.
STEPS TO TAKE AFTER A SLIP/TRIP AND FALL ACCIDENT
Your first step should be to seek medical attention for your injuries. If you are in need of emergency medical assistance, call 9-1-1 immediately. If it is not an emergency, make sure to visit a doctor as soon as possible.
If possible, it is recommended that slip/trip and fall victims gather evidence before leaving the property. Take photos that clearly show the hazard that caused your slip/trip and fall. Be sure to also take photos from angles that show there were no warning signs located near the hazard. If anyone witnessed the incident, ask for their contact information as their testimony may support your personal injury case. Also, take note of any surveillance camera aimed in your direction and the number of cameras in the property.
If the fall is in a retail store, make sure to make the store owner aware of the incident. Find out if the store has a brief form that asks you to explain what happened. Make sure you complete this form before leaving so the accident is documented.
Make sure to find a personal injury attorney that can start investigating the accident and gathering the evidence needed to prove liability. Crucial pieces of evidence may no longer exist if you fail to seek legal representation in a timely manner.