Proving Negligence After Store Injury
An ordinary shopping trip shouldn’t result in serious injuries. Unfortunately, shoppers and other customers in public retail establishments are hurt every day. Hazards like leaks, spills, cords that can trip customers, or improperly-stacked boxes all produce a serious risk of injury. A collapsing stack of products can cause blunt force trauma and fractures. Slipping on a piece of fruit can result in sprains, strains, and spinal injuries.
These types of incidents may be referred to as slip and falls, trip and falls, or other names, but they are typically identified as premises liability cases. In many instances, victims believe that simply being injured on the property of a corporation or company means they have a valid claim, but that’s not always the case. In order to recover damages, a premises liability lawyer must prove that the company or its employees were negligent, and that the injuries sustained arose specifically as a result of that negligence.
A common element at issue in premises liability cases is something called “notice”. In order to show that a hazard was caused by negligence, the personal injury attorney must prove that the store either knew about the hazard or should have known about it. For example, if one customer spills a drink and another customer slips in it mere moments later, the store had no knowledge of the hazard and no way to clean it up. Thus, the store can’t be blamed for the second customer’s injuries, no matter how significant or severe they are.
On the other hand, if a customer spills something that could cause a slip and fall and promptly notifies the store manager, but the manager delays in getting it cleaned up or putting up a “wet floor” sign, the store could be liable for injuries. This is true even though the hazard wasn’t originally their fault.
Another way that a slip and fall lawyer can establish liability is to show that the store’s actions were unsafe to begin with. For instance, if an employee stacks heavy boxes of glass bottles higher than the store’s own policy allows, and those boxes then collapse onto a guest, the guest can sue for her injuries because the actions of the store’s employee were a violation of safety standards. In such lawsuits, attorneys will demand that the store disclose its operating manuals and safety guidelines in order to help prove the case for negligence. Cohen & Cohen, P.C.
In the moments after a slip and fall or similar injury in a store, victims are often disoriented and in pain. It’s important, however, that they quickly take stock of their situation and make sure they know what happened. Photographs can help establish what caused the accident and help prove who is responsible. Any witnesses should be asked for their contact information; unless the witness can be reliably contacted at a later date, their testimony is useless.
Any accident should be immediately reported to the store and the injured person should insist that they produce an incident report. However, an injured individual should not sign any paperwork or release. Before speaking to any representatives from the store’s corporate office or risk management group, they should contact an attorney to make sure their rights are protected.