Premises liability laws govern the responsibility to maintain safe property conditions and to forewarn trespassers of existing hazardous conditions. When an individual slips, trips or falls and sustains an injury as the result of unsafe or poorly maintained property conditions, they may be entitled to legal compensation for their injuries.
Supermarket Slip and Falls
The average American makes at least 6 trips to the grocery store every month, adding up to more than 332 trips per year. Grocery shopping should be a safe experience, but customers and employees are injured every day due to store negligence. Whether at major chains or local stores, shoppers and employees retain the right to a safe environment.
When a store creates dangerous conditions or has noticed that a dangerous condition exists, it must either fix the condition or warn customers about its existence in order to prevent injuries. The store is also liable if a hazard exists for a sufficiently long time that it does not know of or respond to. Accidents most frequently occur from known dangers such as fallen produce, liquids or advertising displays that pose a slipping risk.
Another retail location that sees unprecedented slip and falls are big-box hardware stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot. These stores essentially operate as warehouses open to the public. Unfortunately, warehouses can be extremely dangerous and injuries that occur can be serious. The high shelving in these stores often hold extremely heavy, dense objects. If items fall or are dropped by an employee retrieving the item, resulting injuries can range from minor to life threatening.
Any retail establishment is responsible to exercise due care to keep its property safe for shoppers. However, even if a fall occurs within a store, the liability does not automatically fall upon the store itself. The injured party has to prove the store’s negligence.
To recover compensation for slip and fall injuries, you must prove negligence. By definition, negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care that would be expected in similar situations. However, proving negligence must contain four elements in order to apply in court.
The law says a claimant must prove that:
- The owner either knew or should have known there was an existing unsafe condition. Whether the owner created the condition or was simply aware of the condition.
- The owner failed to address the dangerous condition or failed to warn shoppers about its existence.
- The failure to warn or correct the dangerous condition directly caused an injury.
- You were injured due to the owner’s negligent conduct in failing to correct or remove the dangerous condition.
If surveillance tapes of the area are available, they might show how much time passed between the creation of the dangerous condition and your injury. They can also show who created the danger.
If no video exists, the testimony of other shoppers or employees may establish the store’s notice of the condition. Also, store records may show maintenance, clean up, and inspection procedures. An experienced personal injury attorney will pursue a thorough investigation into the causes of your accident.
A North Carolina negligence claim, when argued successfully, permits the plaintiff to recover damages for:
(1) past and future medical expenses
(2) past and future pain and suffering
(3) lost wages and diminished earning capacity
(4) permanent scarring
(5) permanent injury.
In the past, Britton Law’s lead personal injury attorney, T. Shawn Howard, has handled numerous premises liability cases, including trip and fall cases. He has handled cases in which the grocery store was aware of the hazard, as well as cases where the store created the hazard themselves.
Our attorneys have 25 years of experience handling complex legal claims. We are aware of the unique challenges presented by cases that do not fit a normal “litigation script” like rear-end car wrecks. We can assist you through the claim and litigation process by identifying the particular industry standards breached and, if necessary, hiring necessary experts to prove the breach.
We offer free consultations to personal injury clients and a contingency fee agreement, so you pay no attorneys’ fees unless and until we make a recovery on your behalf.