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No one enjoys grocery shopping, but a slip and fall injury in aisle three turns the chore physically painful. When visiting a business premises, the business owes “invitees” a certain level of care.
A slip and fall that leads to injury may be the result of a business that failed to use reasonable care to maintain its premises in a safe condition. Sometimes, businesses do not exercise enough diligence to ensure that their premises are reasonable safe for their customers.
When a store owner does not take the appropriate level of care to ensure safety, they may be at fault for a customer’s injury. However, it is not as easy to prove as one may think.
What Is Premises Liability?
No matter where the location, the basic purpose of premises liability remains the same. When a business opens its doors, it expects that people will come to its property.
This means that they owe those customers a certain level of care. Without premises liability, business would be able to allow their premises to fall into disrepair with no consequences. Think about a store that allows a tile floor to remain cracked and broken, thus leaving the floor uneven and unsafe.
A person enters the store and trips on the uneven floor. If there were no premises liability, that store owner would have no incentive to spend money on retiling the floor. However, with the requirement of the duty of care, a business needs to maintain its facilities in a reasonable safe manner to avoid injuring its customers.
What Are The Standards For Slip And Fall Cases?
Premises liability requires proof that the business did not live up to a certain standard of care. In this instance, a plaintiff needs to prove the following.
First, an attorney needs to prove that the business, or an employee/agent of the business, caused the spill, worn or torn spot, or other slippery or dangerous surface or item to be in the building when the victim fell or was otherwise injured.
Alternatively, you may prove premises liability by establishing that regardless of whether the dangerous condition was caused by the business owner, it existed for such a period of time that the business owner should have removed the dangerous condition or warned his/her customers of the dangerous condition.
Second, you must prove that the dangerous condition was not so “open and obvious” that the customer should have been aware of the dangerous condition and avoided it.
Third, you must show that the dangerous condition caused an injury and prove the nature and extent of any such injury. These liability standards are difficult to prove sometimes which is why having an attorney is important.
For example, if someone is in the grocery store and slips on spilled juice in the refrigerator section, it may be hard to know how long that juice has been on the ground.
If the person who spilled it has just gone to find someone to clean it up, then there may not have been enough time for a “reasonable” person to fix the problem. The idea of what the term “reasonable” means is something that courts have defined in different ways over the course of time.
What Can The Store Owner Say About The Victim?
When bringing a lawsuit against a business, the owner will likely try to protect themselves. Legal defenses can limit the liability of the business owner and lessen the slip and fall settlement.
One such defense is the idea of comparative negligence. This means that both the victim and the business were at fault in different amounts. The victim may not have been looking where they were going when they slipped on a slippery substance, but the grocery store should have cleaned it up.
Both parties may be at fault for the slip and fall and so that fault needs to be apportioned mathematically between the parties. Another defense might be the assumption of risk.
For example, instead of going to the grocery store, say the accident occurred at the gym. While the victim was there, they pulled a muscle on the elliptical. In this case, it would be difficult to sue the gym because they knew going into the building that it was possible to hurt themselves on an elliptical.
This means that they assumed the risk and implicitly agreed not to sue because they were aware of the danger. Slip and fall accidents at a business can be painful emotionally, physically and financially. Being able to recover damages means getting an attorney who can help.
Call Yearin Law Office Today
If you or a loved one have been injured because of a slip and fall at a business, we invite you to give Don Yearin at the Yearin Law Office a call at 480-526-9386 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.