What Should I Know About Slip and Fall Accidents in Retail Stores?
September 16, 2020
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI). In addition, more than 95 percent of all hip fractures are the result of slipping and falling. If someone is injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, they may have the right to seek damages. From a legal standpoint, slip and fall accidents belong to the broader category of premises liability claims when the injury occurs on property owned or maintained by someone else. Because falls can have serious health implications, it is important to know what to do in case of a slip and fall accident, and what to expect in terms of recovery.
What Should I Do If I Slip and Fall at a Retail Store?
As with any accident, a victim’s first priority is to obtain medical attention if injuries are serious. Victims who are conscious and alert should pause and look around to find what caused the accident. Taking photos with a smart phone is the best way to collect evidence. If possible, victims should record the dangerous condition that caused the accident. It is also a good idea to take photos of the presence or absence of warning signs as this information may play a vital role in a case. Other actions to take include the following:
- Ask bystanders for their contact information and/or statements about what they saw.
- Report the accident to the store manager, describing any injuries sustained.
- Request that the store manager file a report.
- Ask for copies of security camera footage and record the manager’s response to that request.
- Request medical attention.
- Follow up with all doctor’s appointments.
- Contact a qualified premises liability lawyer.
Victims should also preserve the clothing and shoes they were wearing at the time of the accident.
What Types of Injuries Result from Slip and Fall Accidents?
Some slip and fall accidents may result in minor cuts and bruises that do not warrant medical attention. However, any fall can have serious health implications. Additionally, statistics show that the older the victim is, the more likely the accident will result in long-lasting serious injuries or death. The most common types of serious slip and fall injuries include the following:
- Head injuries and TBI
- Shoulder injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Sprained ankles
- Knee injuries
- Back injuries
There a several types of common back injuries that result from slip and fall accidents, including pinched nerves from herniated disks and fractures to the thoracic or lumbar spine.
Where Do Slip and Fall Accidents Occur in Retail Stores?
Slip and fall accidents at retail stores can occur in many different locations, including the following:
- Parking lots
- Shopping cart corrals
- Checkout lines
Many times, when a shopper slips and falls in a retail store, it is due to the negligence of the store operator or landlord. According to the law, retail establishments have a responsibility to provide the public with safe access to their store and safe passage once inside. Members of the public include not only store patrons but also delivery persons or others who are conducting business with the store. Too often, the property owner ignores and fails to remedy common causes of falls, like:
- Ice, snow, wet leaves, and puddles that obscure trip hazards
- Torn carpeting
- Cracked floors or other uneven walking surfaces
- Improperly stocked shelves
- Display stands that may tip over
- Empty pallets or boxes
- Loose and scattered merchandising items, like hangers, clips, or shelving
- Spills on the floor
- Uneven stairs
- Poorly lit areas
- Congested aisles
- Slippery tile floors, especially entranceways when it is raining or snowing
- Malfunctioning escalators
What are Pennsylvania’s Laws Regarding Slip and Fall Compensation?
Pennsylvania laws affect the amount of damages paid for premises liability claims whether the victim files a claim with an insurance company or takes the matter to court. The following Pennsylvania laws play a significant role in the outcome of these cases:
- Statute of limitations: This imposes a time limit on victims’ rights to have their lawsuit heard in civil court. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years. Courts will generally dismiss a case if the accident occurred more than two years before a lawsuit was filed. If a victim does not file a lawsuit promptly within the Statute of Limitations, they may forfeit their right to obtain any damages.
- Comparative negligence: When deciding the settlement award, Pennsylvania follows the comparative negligence rule. If a victim is found to be at least partially at-fault for an accident, the amount of damages is reduced by that percentage of fault. Victims found to be more than 50 percent at-fault will not be awarded any damages.
Can I Collect Damages in a Slip and Fall Accident?
The likelihood of collecting damages in a slip and fall accident depends on four factors:
- Whether the person has a valid claim
- The amount and quality of evidence gathered
- The skill in presenting the evidence
- The ability to negotiate a full and just recovery
Proving the legitimacy of a slip and fall accident in court can be difficult. Obtaining experienced legal representation gives victims a greater chance of collecting damages. In a retail store, victims may also have the advantage of security camera footage, which they can use as evidence. At the same time, lawyers and insurance companies representing retail businesses may argue that the claim is not valid because the hazard was obvious or that no real injury resulted from it.
How Do I Know If I Have a Valid Claim?
To have a valid claim, victims must prove the following:
- The business or landlord was negligent in allowing an unsafe condition to exist. The business or storeowner may be negligent if the unsafe condition was under their control. Examples include a slippery floor due to a spill, failure to clean up the spill after patrons alerted the manager, and lack of warning signs about the spill. The storeowner may also be liable for congested aisles, improperly stacked shelves, or the failure to remove ice or snow from walkways.
- Their negligence caused the injury. Putting up caution signs or cones may not automatically absolve the storeowner of liability, as it could be interpreted as a failure to address the dangerous condition. Failure to warn of a slippery condition would constitute negligence.
- The business or landlord should have known about the unsafe condition. Landlords may be deemed negligent for structural issues, such as water leaks from the ceiling, stairs in poor condition, malfunctioning escalators, or a lack of lighting in entranceways or parking lots.
Philadelphia Premises Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Provide Skilled Legal Counsel to Victims of Slip and Fall Accidents
If you slipped and fell while shopping and sustained an injury requiring medical attention, the Philadelphia premises liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP provide skilled legal counsel to injured accident victims. We are always available to answer your questions about the validity of an accident claim. Fill out our online contact form or call 800-222-8792 for a free consultation at your convenience. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly help injured workers throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.