When most of us head to the local grocery store, big box chain or other retail establishment, our thoughts are understandably focused on either browsing or making a predetermined purchase. In other words, we are focused on enjoying our shopping experience and simply trust that the store has done everything in its power to keep us safe.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that this trust may be misplaced, as shoppers are injured in accidents attributable to the negligence of store owners on a shockingly regular basis, and there arises a need to call a lawyer, when the situation could be easily averted. Indeed, a large number suffer devastating injuries to their knees, backs, necks and even their heads in slip and fall accidents.

Do these slip and fall accidents always involve wet floors?

While it’s true that many of slip and fall accidents in retail settings are caused by wet floors, there are a multitude of causes, including:

  • Improperly placed displays
  • Items left in aisles
  • Imperceptible floor shifts
  • Improper lighting
  • Torn carpet, cracked tile or warped vinyl flooring

What must a plaintiff prove in order to prevail in a slip and fall case?

In general, a plaintiff is required to demonstrate 1) the accident was attributable to a “dangerous condition” and 2) the store owner knew about this dangerous condition.

What constitutes a dangerous condition?  

A dangerous condition is typically viewed as one that presents an unreasonable risk of harm to those located on the property and is not something the victim should have anticipated under the circumstances (i.e., it wasn’t an open and obvious danger).

How can it be shown that the store owner knew about the dangerous condition?

This element can be proven by demonstrating any of the following:

  • The store owner created the dangerous condition
  • The store owner knew about the dangerous condition but neglected to take the necessary actions to fix it
  • The dangerous condition endured for such a prolonged period of time that the store owner should have known about it and taken remedial measures, as this is what a reasonable store owner in similar circumstances would have done

We’ll continue this discussion in future posts. In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you or a loved one were injured in any sort of retail establishment accident you believe was attributable to the recklessness of a store owner.