slip and fall

Slip & Fall accidents – What is the Liability of a Retail Store?

Each year, thousands of individuals are injured in slip and fall accidents. These accidents can occur almost anywhere, and many of them are minor. Some slips, trips, and falls can result in serious and catastrophic injuries, however. These include:

  • Head Injuries
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Fractures/Broken Bones
  • Soft Tissue Injuries

Slip and Fall Accidents in Retail Stores

Slip and fall accidents are especially common in retail stores, where dangerous conditions can result in a customer falling and getting injured. When this occurs, there is a possibility that the store may be held liable for the injury.

Slip and fall injuries can happen in retail stores for a number of reasons, some of the most common include:

  • Wet and Slippery Floors: This is one of the leading causes of slips, trips and falls in retail stores. Floors can become wet and slippery because of a substance that spills, a floor that was recently mopped, or other reasons. When a wet or slippery floor is not clearly marked, it can present a hazard for customers.
  • Uneven Surfaces/Torn Carpeting: Some stores have uneven surfaces (either inside or outside) that can become a tripping hazard. Torn carpeting is another common flooring issue that can lead to customers tripping and falling.
  • Poor Lighting: Some areas of the store may be poorly lit because a light is out or broken. This makes it difficult for patrons to see various slipping and tripping hazards, such as merchandize or debris that is on the floor.

The Store’s Duty to Keep the Premises Safe

A customer who enters a retail store is considered an “invitee”. As such, the store has a duty to exercise reasonable care to keep the customer safe. When a slip and fall accident happens at a retail store, the store could be held liable if you can show that they created an unsafe condition, such as a slippery floor. The store may also be responsible for conditions they did not create if they were aware of the condition (or should have been aware of it) and did not take reasonable steps to address it. For example, if one of their lighting fixtures was broken two weeks prior and they did not take steps to fix it and/or warn customers of the problem, they might be liable for a slip and fall injury that occurs because of it.

There is one major hurdle a customer needs to overcome in proving that the store was at fault for a slip and fall accident. You need to show that the hazard that caused the accident was not “open and obvious” to a reasonable person. For example, if you were walking down an aisle that was well-lit and noticed a slippery substance that had spilled from the shelf and walked right through it, the store may argue that you should have seen the spill and walked around it.

Pursuing a Premises Liability Case against a Retail Store in Virginia

When someone is seriously injured in a slip and fall accident, the issue of who is at-fault is central in determining whether or not the injured party is entitled to damages. Virginia applies the legal standard known as “contributory negligence”, meaning that if an injury victim is found to have “contributed” at all to the accident, they can be barred from recovering compensation. This is a very difficult standard to overcome for plaintiffs in a personal injury case, and you can be almost certain that the store’s central defense will be to try to pin at least part of the blame on you.

With that in mind, the keys to winning a premises liability case in Virginia are evidence, preparation, and presentation. You need to have as much evidence as possible to prove your claim; such as detailed notes about the incident, photos of the hazardous condition that led to the accident, testimony of witnesses who saw what happened, medical documentation of your injuries, and anything else that would help your case.

You will also need to be able to prepare your case and present it in a way that will show that the store is fully responsible for damages. These types of cases can be complex and difficult to pursue on your own. If you believe you may have a premises liability claim against a store in Virginia, one of the first steps you should take is to get in touch with a seasoned premises liability lawyer.

Speak with the Experienced Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys at Olmstead & Olmstead

At Olmstead & Olmstead, P.C., we have extensive experience representing clients injured in slip and fall accidents in Virginia. We have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and we have a successful track record recovering compensation for clients in even the most complex cases. If you or someone close to you was injured in a slip and fall accident, call our office today at 703-361-1555 to schedule your initial consultation. You may also send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.

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