Slip and fall accidents account for over a million emergency room visits a year, according to the National Floor Safety Institute. Although many of these accidents occur at home, a significant percentage of them take place in public business establishments such as grocery stores. If you have suffered a slip and fall accident in a grocery store, you may be entitled to compensation.
Common Causes of Grocery Store Slip and Fall Accidents
Although many factors can contribute to a slip and fall accident, most grocery store slip and fall accidents boil down to a relatively small number of causes, such as:
- Food that has fallen onto the floor (a banana, for example)
- Wet floors (in a bathroom that has just been mopped, for example)
- Collapsing stairwell railings
- Icy parking lots
- Recently waxed floors
- Poor lighting (especially in stairwells)
- Debris on the floor
- Uneven flooring or pavement
A Grocery Store’s Liability
If you were shopping in the grocery store at the time of the accident, you were an “invitee” – you were there because the grocery store’s advertising invited you to come. Consequently, the grocery store owes you a higher duty of care than it would owe to a door-to-door salesman or a trespasser, for example.
Despite this relatively high duty of care, the grocery store is not automatically liable simply because you were injured on the premises. The store is obligated to provide reasonably safe conditions for its customers — it must repair or warn of known dangers and non-obvious dangers that can be discovered through a reasonable inspection.
A grocery store is not obligated to provide 100 percent safety to its customers, however. If you slip on a wet floor because someone spilled juice on it ten seconds before the accident, for example, the grocery store might successfully claim that its employees had no time to clean the floor prior to the accident.
Possible Defenses to a St. Louis Slip and Fall Claim
Depending on the facts of your case, any number of possible defenses might be plausible. It is very likely that the defendant will at least try to assert that the accident was partially or fully your fault. Following are some examples of common defenses:
- You were in an “employees only” area of the store without consent (which would turn you from an invitee to a trespasser)
- You were intoxicated at the time of the accident and therefore partially responsible for it.
- The condition that caused the accident was potentially dangerous, but not unreasonably so – for example, a recently mopped floor with a conspicuous warning sign.
- The statute of limitations deadline had already passed by the time you filed the lawsuit (usually two to five years after the accident, but state laws vary).
- A child plaintiff was negligently supervised by his parents.
Depending on the facts of your case, some of the foregoing defenses will not defeat your case even if they are established – they will simply reduce the amount of damages available to you.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident while shopping for groceries, you might have a valid personal injury claim against the grocery store. If your claim is large, however, the grocery store is likely to fight hard to avoid adequately compensating you. In that case you are likely to require the services of an experienced slip and fall lawyer.