Who Is Responsible for Falls and Slips at a Store?

Who Is Responsible for Falls and Slips at a Store?
Who Is Responsible for Falls and Slips at a Store?

Who Is Responsible for Falls and Slips at a Store?


One may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the store, the property owner or maybe both if one slips and falls there. However, it is not always simple to substantiate these situations.

The damage claim will probably be heavily influenced by the store liability insurance, but one must be ready to demonstrate some degree of negligence on the side of the business or one of its staff.

Obligation of A Store!

Stores are legally required to have adequately safe property conditions for the protection of customers and visitors, just like any other business that opens to the public.

If the injured party demonstrates that the slip and fall were caused by dangerous circumstances on the property, the business it is a small, neighborhood independent retailer or a national “big boxes” chain like Walmart or Target- may be held accountable for damages and other losses.

Reliability for a slip-and-fall incident at a store typically rests on the legal concept of “negligence.”

Simply put, carelessness happens in these kinds of situations when a customer is hurt due to the store owner’s or an employee’s failure to behave with reasonable care.

  • Typically, this indicates that either a dangerous condition was caused by the store or an employee.
  • Or the harmful condition was known to the store or an employee should have known about it, but it was not fixed timely.

Was the Unsafe Condition Caused by the Store or Employee?

If the business owner used extremely slippery wax to clean the floors, for example, and caused a dangerous condition, they could be held accountable.

Was the Employee/Store Aware of the Dangerous Situations?

Even though it did not cause the illness, the store owner might still be held accountable if it knew about it and did nothing to address it.

For example, if a customer spills their drink in an area and another falls and hurts her back from slipping on the puddle, the store can be held responsible.

In that case, the aggrieved party will need to provide proof that the retailer was aware of the issue or should have been reasonably aware of it.

Was there a Chance for the Employee/Store to Remove or Diminish the Danger?

Evidence indicating that the spill was there long enough for the retailer to notice it and have a fair chance to clean it up and avoid an accident is required.

The person who was harmed may also show that although the store should have known that product spills were frequent, it did not have a monitoring system to keep an eye on and clean up these spills.

Furthermore, the injured client will probably need to demonstrate that the harmful condition was not so evident and open that the client might have taken precautions to avoid it.

For instance, when a large display is in the consumer’s line of sight and is frequently used in similar businesses, the client is unlikely to recover from injuries received from tripping over it.

Put another way, a client cannot hold the store liable for every problem that arises and must instead take reasonable precautions to protect themselves. Whether a reasonably cautious buyer would have recognised the dangerous condition and avoided it is a crucial issue to examine. In that case, the store cannot be held accountable for the injury.

Was There a Notice or Any Other Warning?

The problem with cones, warning signs, and other methods of alerting customers to potential hazards is identical. Whether a reasonably cautious buyer would have seen the sign or other warning, and averted the injury is the most crucial point.

Who To Sue?

Any type of corporate entity, including partnership, company, or other that owns the store is typically named as the defendant in a case related to slip and fall in the store.

A slip and fall lawsuit may be filed against the property owner or whoever was in charge of keeping an eye on the property if the store owner did not own the land when the injury occurred.

The business owner, as the employer, would still be accountable for the slip and fall claimant’s damages and injuries even in the case when a store employee acted carelessly, according to a legal doctrine known as “respondeat superior.”

What Are the Typical Reasons for Slip and Fall Accidents in Stores?

A customer may slip and fall in a business due to nearby any form of obstacle or unforeseen situation. Several often-occurring sources of these types of situations include:

  • Food items, beverages or other liquids spilling in store aisles product that ends up in aisle or other walkways equipment, wires, and other obstacles left in places where customers walk.
  • Shattered floor tiles, ripped carpets, and other problems with flooring defects building of ice or snow in the store’s entrance.
  • Inadequate lighting causes poor vision, and falling to put a warning sign or block off areas of potential dangers is a result of broken handrails or damaged stairstep surfaces on staircases.
  • The causes of the slip and fall accidents could be anything, but in most cases, the store’s legal liability will be determined by whether it had reasonable knowledge of the dangerous condition and an opportunity to remedy it, but chose not to do so.

Actual Cases Including In-Store Accidents

Let us look at a few major events involving patrons who suffered injuries at retail establishments to further highlight the range of problems that might occur in situations such as these.

Employee Ignorance at Costco

A plaintiff who broke her kneecap in a Costco shop after tripping over a pool of liquid soap was found not guilty by a jury in California. Before the plaintiff’s accident, several Costco staff had gone by and ignored the spill, as the plaintiff and her legal team were able to demonstrate.

This was an obvious instance of negligence. Over $400,000 was ordered to be paid by Costco for the woman’s medical care as well as her “pain and suffering.”

The “Pot Sticker” Case from Costco

After tripping over food that was spilled on the floor and breaking her tailbone, a California Costco customer filed a lawsuit. Some nearby had been receiving free samples of “pot stickers” from Costco personnel.

The injured woman claimed that the same clients were strolling around and consuming food that the store gave, Costco ought to have checked the floors more regularly. The jury, on the other hand, disapproved and said that hourly floor checks were sufficient, siding with Costco.

Bringing Lawsuit in New York, But Injuries Happened in Florida

A New York woman fell on a spilled beverage in a Costco in Florida, breaking her back badly. In New York, she filed a personal injury claim against Costco. Costco attempted to transfer the lawsuit to Florida because that state is where the injury happened.

The lawsuit will proceed to trial in New York after the court there rejected the transfer motion. The plaintiff was spared the cost and inconvenience of having to travel while she was hurt, which made the decision noteworthy.

The defendant, in this case, Costco, was ordered by the court to assume the cost of having the case tried in a different case.

“Deleted Evidence” Case (Home Depot)

A lady filed a lawsuit in the Pennsylvania case of Baynes v. Home Depot after she slipped on an unidentified material in one of the chain’s shops.

Home Depot claimed that the pertinent section of the film had been erased when the woman insisted on seeing the video surveillance footage of the accident.

The court ruled in favour of the plaintiff and mandated that Home Depot pay more than $44,000 even in the absence of video evidence.

Home Depot v. Hartner

A woman in Hartner v. Home Depot suffered a knee injury when her shopping cart was rejected after it stuck a manhole cover that was covered in water. Home Depot contended that since the risk was clear and present. The plaintiff should bear some of the guilt for her injuries.

In contrast, the Pennsylvania jury determined that Home Depot was 95% at fault. The injuries were valued at $1 million by the jury, and the court ordered Home Depot to reimburse for $950,000 of those damages.

Employee Forklift Accident at Lowes

A Florida Lowe’s Home and Garden Centre patron suffered severe injuries after a store employee rear-ended her with a forklift. After sustaining many orthopaedic injuries, the woman was awarded $600,000.

Walgreens Triumphs

The plaintiff was unable to identify the source of the liquid after slipping on it at Walgreens in Broadview, Illinois.

The plaintiff maintained that the liquid was already on the store floor, notwithstanding the contention of the store that it melted from his shoes. After losing his case, the plaintiff filed an appeal.

The “Rebuttable Presumption”

A fundamental shift in in-store-slip-and-fall cases was indicated in the “Kentucky” case. The court stated that there would be a “rebuttable presumption” that Wal-Mart failed to maintain a reasonably safe environment in its store if the plaintiff could demonstrate that they fell or suffered injuries because of something foreign being on the floor.

The store would next have to demonstrate that it had taken reasonable care in the above case.

In the case of “Lanier v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.,” the court accepted that the self-service shopping model used by huge retailers like Wal-Mart makes mishaps like customer falls more obvious.

The court also indicated that Wal-Mart arranges its displays in a way that directs customers’ attention towards the displays rather than the floors, where hazards are more likely to be found. This theory was supported by the picture of the aisle where the plaintiff fell.

Keeping a Retailer Accountable for a Fall and Slip

It is now recognised that a store may be held legally liable for accidents caused by dangerous conditions. However, practically speaking, how does a harmed consumer obtain compensation?

Though they are not exclusive, there are often two major options:

  • Making a claim under the store owner’s general liability or commercial liability insurance policy, which if successful, would result in a settlement that would pay you for your losses and injuries, and/or,
  • Suing the store owner for personal injury in court. If successful, the injured plaintiff would receive a judgment and an order requiring the defendant, the store, to pay the plaintiff money.

It should be noted that the store’s liability insurer would bear financial responsibility for this case, up to the limits of the policy.

The fact that an insurance claim can turn into a lawsuit and that a lawsuit can be settled out of court at any point is the reason we say two choices are not mutually exclusive.

Slip-and-Fall Settlement Value

Since each case is different, it is difficult to give an estimate without knowing important details like the kind and extend of the injuries and how they affected the claimant’s quality of life.

Want to Get a Claim?

A claim arising from an in-store slip and fall case is typically not the kind of personal injury matter that makes sense for the claimant to handle alone without legal help.

It makes sense to accept the money and go on without hiring a lawyer if the injuries are relatively mild. Here the liability of the store provider is to provide the injured party with a fair settlement.

But it is usually a good idea to at least consult a legal expert or a lawyer about the case if one has suffered serious injuries. There are concerns about who is more to be blamed for your slip and fall accident. The store/employee/owner/or you.

Hence, if you sustained any such injury at a “big box” or chain store, then there are an abundance of resources and incentives to protect that they can use to protect themselves.



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