If you are like many shoppers, you are so focused on what you are shopping for, you may not be focused on your feet. You just assume that the aisles are clear of the debris, and the floors are cleared from spills. This is not necessarily always the case. Before you know it, you could be a victim of a slip and fall. But, whose fault is it? Is it the fault of the customer who may have made the mess, or is it the fault of the store owner? Knowing the answer to this may make a difference in whether or not you visit a slip and fall attorney.
What Is Premise Liability?
No matter who made the mess, the store owner has a duty to ensure that their premises are free and clear of any obstacles that could produce a hazard to those who are on their property. This is referred to as premise liability. In other words, they are liable for any accidents taking place on their property as long as the following criteria is met. They must:
- Own the premises
- Invite you to be on the premises
- Have a breach of care, perform a wrongful act, or some other type of negligence
If all of these have been met, and you have been injured at their establishment, you probably have a valid slip and fall case. But, before you get excited, you must know that it can often be difficult to prove that the establishment was negligent.
How Do You Prove Negligence In A Slip And Fall Accident?
All falls are not always due to the negligence of the property owner. There may be some reasons, such as curbs in the parking lot, that may present a natural hazard within your path. It is expected that you would be able to see, as well as avoid this stumbling block. There are also times that property owners may not have been able to, or had time to, clean up messy, or slippery substances on their floors.
For example, if it is raining, they may not be able to keep the lobby free and clear of water. As a courtesy, they should post wet floor signs to warn you that the surface has the potential to be slippery, but that may not even be required. It should be understood that if you walked through rain, or on wet ground, on your way into the building, the floor may be wet where you enter.
To prove that the property owner is negligent, you must be able to show that the owner, or an employee of the establishment did something to cause the hazard, which caused you to slip, trip, or fall. This may have been done by failing to repair an uneven surface, neglecting to replace a worn or torn surface that presents a tripping, hazard, or being responsible for the spill that caused the slippery surface.
You must be able to prove that the owner of the property was aware of the situation, and failed to take care of it in a timely manner. This means that if you saw the person in front of you drop a jar of pickles, and then you slipped and fell due to the pickle juice on the floor, it would be difficult to prove that the owner was negligent, because they had not had time to clean up the spill prior to you falling.
You must also be able to show that the condition, or surface that caused you to fall, was one that a reasonable person would have discovered, removed, or repaired. The definition of reasonable in cases such as these often boils down to what would be common sense in a similar situation.
The good news is, these are points that you do not have to figure out. When you consult a slip and fall attorney, they will evaluate your case and figure them out for you. You can also find more info here on what a lawyer can do to help you with a slip and fall case.